The Canadian Cancer Society’s Daffodil Days began
in Toronto in the 1950s. A group of Canadian Cancer Society volunteers
organized a fundraising tea and decided to decorate the tables with
daffodils. The bright, cheerful flowers created an atmosphere that seemed
to radiate hope and faith that cancer could be beaten. Soon these
gatherings came to be known as Daffodil Teas.
Jackie Brockie, a volunteer who also worked at Eaton's, supported the
idea of Daffodil Teas and arranged for Lady Eaton to host a Tea in the
store. Seven hundred women attended.
Another volunteer, Lane Knight, arranged for restaurants to give part
of their receipts to the Society on the opening day of the residential
canvass in 1956. Canadian Cancer Society volunteers were on hand at local
restaurants to give patrons a daffodil when they paid for their meals as a
token of appreciation. The sight of so many daffodils being carried around
the city created interest. When some recipients tried to pay for the
flowers or make donations, the Society quickly realized that the sale of
daffodils would generate additional revenue.
Canadian Cancer Society volunteer Fran Shannon headed the team that
planned the sale of daffodils on the streets of Toronto the following
year. An anonymous donor paid for 5,000 blooms to be flown from British
Columbia where the growing season starts earlier than in Ontario.
The daffodils were an instant success, raising more than $1,200 the
first year. The idea was adopted by other provinces across Canada as well
as the American Cancer Society. Today the Canadian Cancer Society is the
world's largest purchaser of daffodils and the growers in British Columbia
must arrange their plantings to accommodate the Society's spring demand
for live blooms.