Fillmore, Roscoe A.

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Fillmore, Roscoe A.

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Roscoe Fillmore was an horticulturalist, author and political activist. He was a principle organizer for the Socialist Party of Canada in the Maritimes before World War One and joined the Communist Party of Canada in the early 1920s. Born in Lumsden, New Brunswick, on 10 July 1887, in 1923 he spent time at an experimental farm in Kuzas, Siberia, working as an horticultural expert. He was president of the New Brunswick Fruit Growers' Association before losing his job as a large orchard manager in 1924 and moving his family (wife, Margaret, and children, Dick, Ruth, Rosa and Alexandra) to Centreville, Nova Scotia. He built a house and a nursery, and in 1938 became Head Gardener for the Dominion Atlantic Railway, where he was also responsible for gardening at the Grand Pré Memorial Park.

Fillmore was politically active in Centreville and a strong supporter of socialist causes. He wrote numerous political articles for magazines and, with Charles MacDonald, Frank Parry and Jim Sim, he helped to form the Centreville Socialists, a small group that met on Sundays at Sim's residence to discuss politics and government. When the Communist Party of Canada was banned in 1940, Fillmore helped refound the party as the Labour-Progressive Party of Canada. In the 1945 federal election he ran as the Farmer-Labour Candidate in the Digby-Annapolis-Kings riding. He received 362 (1.4%) of the 25,944 votes cast. The Centreville Socialists met regularly until 1951 when Jim Sim died.

After the Centreville Socialists broke up, Fillmore and Parry focused on developing Valley Nurseries. Fillmore developed new plant varieties suitable for Nova Scotia's climate. He also published four books on gardening, which were written without the obscure terminology found in many contemporaneous gardening books, and he became a popular speaker on radio and across Canada under the nickname "Mr. Green Thumbs." Fillmore renounced the Labour-Progressive Party of Canada in the 1950s, but continued to remain politically active until his death in 1968. Since 1978, semi-annual picnics have been held in his honour.


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