Lois Hole, entrepreneur of today, presently owns Hole's Greenhouse, one of the most well known garden centers in Canada. She is also the author of several books on gardening, and most recently an autobiography. Lois is and has been, since 1981, the St. Albert School District Trustee.
Born in Buchanan, Saskatchewan, in 1933, Lois's love for gardening and interest in growing things was identified at a very young age in her mother's garden. Much of her time as a girl was spent at her grandparent's farm. After a long day at the farm, her mother could remember her saying, "I'll never marry a farmer!"
"And why not?" her mother would reply back.
"Because," she would say, "farms are the loneliest places on earth." This is where the title of her latest book came from, on "life, learning, and vegetable gardening."1 This book is called "I'll Never Marry A Farmer." It is much like an autobiography/ gardening hand-book, and story about how she married the love of her life, Ted, a farmer.
In the early harvest of 1959 two immigrants were driving by on the road that Lois's garden was beside. When they saw the amazing cucumbers in the garden, they immediately pulled into the driveway. They didn't speak much English, but managed to ask Lois if they could buy some of her prized cucumbers. After a bargain the men made off with twenty-five pounds of cucumbers for one dollar! One week later the men were back for more. Lois thought to herself, "we can make profit from all our extra vegetables!" " In the past, we just gave them away, that's why we never thought of this before." The next day Lois and Ted placed an article in the paper for "vegetables for sale." After one day Lois counted the profits, thirty-six dollars! They called this "accidental gardening"2 Hole's Greenhouse was born.
In the early 1960's Lois and Ted's first child was born. It was a boy, William George Hole they named him. In 1965, they had a second son. Michael James is the name they gave him. One of Lois's young strong worker girls was named Valerie. She was always the favorite around the farm and did exceptional work for Lois. She was the same age as William, and not a bad looking girl. Lois always hoped that William would notice her someday, but wasn't going to be the one to butt her nose in and "arrange a marriage." In 1983, William finally took the time to notice and ended up marrying Valerie in 1986. It was what you would call an arranged marriage!3
Lois Hole had a few major inspirations in getting where she is today. Two of the most important ones were Virginie Durocher and her mother- in-law, Grandma Hole. Virginie was born in 1898, and was one of the first workers at Hole's Greenhouse. Lois used to pick her up every day from her small log cabin with a dirt floor to go to work. Hole said that Virginie knew every natural remedy there was, and had a kind heart. Virginie was always taking kids off the street into her small home and supporting them as a parent would with whatever means she had. Grandma Hole was Ted's mother and was the most amazing person Lois knew. She had raised nine kids to start with! All seven of her boys, and both her girls were never hungry and always thanked their mother for everything she did for them. When Grandma Hole caught one of her children helping with housework, she would send them into their room to study. She would say "I can do the housework, but I can't do your studies for you!" She wanted to give her children everything she didn't have, and education was one of them. As a result of this, all nine of her children graduated from the University of Alberta. When a problem arises in Lois's life and she can't find a solution, she asks herself, "How would Grandma Hole have done it?"4
"Ninety-nine percent of things you worry about don't happen; the other one percent you can't do anything about, so why worry at all?" Is, and I quote, one of Lois's favorite sayings. It sums up about how she feels about life in general, and gardening in particular.5
Holes Greenhouse has gone from a garden off the side of a well traveled road, to one of Canada's best known independent retail greenhouses. Through her books, Lois has shared hundreds of valuable gardening secrets and has unselfishly shared her talents with her peers. There is no doubt she has acquired over a dozen awards, including the Presidents award in 1992. In 1994, the Safe Cities Award, and the Edmonton Business and Profl. Award. In 1996 she was nominated for the third time and won the Woman of The Year, and the Woman Of Vision Award. In 1997, The Melvin Jones Fellow Award and Bahai Faith Community of St. Albert recognition. Also in 1997 the Paul Harris Fellowship and the Edmonton Rotary Club, in 1998.7 Lois has the potential in receiving many more awards in the future. One of her most recent accomplishments is being elected sixteenth Chancellor for the University of Alberta6
Reading Lois's books make you feel as if you know her, like she is a friend of yours, telling you a story in her kitchen over a cup of tea. She is a kind and practical person, who has many stories to tell. Lois also writes numerous articles in the Edmonton Sun and Journal. When you have a chance you should make an effort to read some of them. They are educational, informative and even fun and usually and suprisingly entertaining. Lois writes on a personal level that many people enjoy, she is a "down to earth" person that has normal experiences and beliefs. Sharing them is a strength.
Her books make gorgeous coffee table books, with the wonderful, lush, and innovative photos. I'll Never Marry A Farmer; I'll have to say is one of the best. Everything ties together to make an exceptional reader and handbook. Unlike a novel it doesn't tie you down to a story plot. Lois expresses everything in short, grade seven reading level stories. She has an entrepreneurial spirit that permeates the entire book and "whole" business.