Lives Lived Archive

John Harrington Ferguson
APRIL 18, 1851 - OCTOBER 16, 1931
John Harrington Ferguson was born on a farm in Chinguacousy township, Peel County (part of the modern municipality of Brampton) in 1851 to Samuel Ferguson and Ellen Harrington. John’s remarkable life would likely have been lost to history alongside countless other farmers in Victorian Canada were it not for his extremely detailed and valuable farm diary which he kept from 1869 to 1884. The diary, which survives to this day, provides considerable insight into the life of a bright young...
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Bertram Stewart
AUGUST 19, 1932 – FEBRUARY 12, 2018
Dedicated 4-H volunteer; dairy cattle consultant. Born Aug. 19, 1932; died Feb. 12, 2018, age 85, in Fergus, Ont. In his 2010 Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame citation, Bertram Stewart is described as a “pioneer in preparing and exhibiting dairy cattle.” After learning of Stewart’s recent passing, Semex CEO Paul Larmer described Stewart in a statement as “an international icon.” His early experiences showing cattle in Halton Region led to...
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Jay Anger
JANUARY 9, 1942 – JANUARY 15, 2018
Farmer; Essex County Agricultural Hall of Fame inductee. Born Jan. 9, 1942; died Jan. 15, 2018, age 76. Brenda Anger (née McKinlay) met her late husband Jay Anger at a Junior Farmers’ event in the early 1960s. That meeting began a life together working what has become a five-generation 3,000-acre cash cropping operation near Harrow. The couple were also active supporters of key agricultural organizations in the area. Manager of the Harrow Fair at the time of his death, Jay was...
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John G. Rayner
OCTOBER 1, 1890 – JUNE 30, 1952
John George Rayner was an agriculturist in Saskatchewan who was involved in various notable organizations. However, it was his work in rural education for which Rayner will always be best remembered. He was born on October 1, 1890, in London, England. His family emigrated to Canada when he was only two years old, settling in the farming community of Virden, Manitoba and adopting the life of Canadian farmers. He graduated from the Virden high school before attending the Manitoba College of...
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Gordon Ribey
June 1, 1927 – January 6, 2018
Auctioneer; retired farmer; founding member of the Bluewater Angus Club. Born June 1, 1927; died Jan. 6, 2018, age 91. Gordon Ribey, a long-time Bruce County auctioneer, “was a landmark,” according to Garry Kuhl, Keady Livestock Market manager. Ribey died suddenly in early January of an apparent heart attack, his younger brother Rodney Ribey said. Until Gordon retired from farming and moved to Port Elgin, he maintained his purebred Ryebee Angus herd on 145 acres near...
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Norman Dow
JULY 24, 1920 – NOVEMBER 6, 2017
Farmer; Second World War veteran; International Plowing Match and Rural Expo enthusiast. Born July 24, 1920. Died, aged 97, on Nov. 6, 2017 in Mitchell. Norman Dow used to tell a story about the pig who rode with him in the cab of an army truck he drove in Italy during the Second World War. The piglet appeared as a practical joke in the bed of an unfavoured corporal, Norman reported once to The Memory Project, a Historica Canada platform. “The (men) decided that, since I was a...
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Audrey Brown
MAY 24, 1930 – OCTOBER 1, 2017
Farmer; teacher; former executive committee member of the Shorthorn Lassies Auxiliary. Born May 24, 1930; died Oct. 1, 2017, age 87. Audrey Brown operated Glenrothes Farm near Beaverton with George, her husband of over 65 years. The couple met at high school and eventually settled in Pickering, where they both taught school. Audrey and George began their purebred herd in the early 1960s and moved permanently to the farm in 1984. Their 2008 “Legends of the Breed” award from...
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Freeman Boyd
OCTOBER 7, 1952 – JUNE 22, 2017
Farmer; outdoorsman; passionate local food advocate. Born Oct. 7, 1952; died June 22, 2017 in Meaford, age 64. A foundational figure for local food in Grey and Bruce Counties, Freeman Boyd died suddenly following a cardiac event at his home in late June. Raised on a Guelph-area poultry farm, Freeman and his wife, Marion, acquired their own farm near Walters’ Falls in the 1970s. “We travelled a bit and … wanted to buy some property in Ontario somewhere (but)...
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William ‘Bill’ Heeman
DECEMBER 1, 1933 – JUNE 28, 2017
Farmer and innovator. Born Dec. 1, 1933; died June 28, 2017 in London, Ont., age 83. Bill Heeman worked literally until the day he died at the London-area retail greenhouse operation he and his wife, Susan, established 54 years ago. The couple emigrated from Holland in the late 1950s. While Bill was a mechanic by trade, Susan was raised in a family greenhouse business and urged her husband to enter this field. In 1963, the couple built a 10,000-square-foot (929-square-metre)...
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Thomas Crerar
JUNE 17, 1876 - APRIL 11, 1975
Thomas Crerar was born in Molesworth, Ontario, but moved to Manitoba during his youth. Crerar established himself as a notable farmer in the province. He grew grain and taught at a rural school in the newly developing province. Around the turn of the century, Crerar expanded his portfolio to leadership, as the manager of the Farmers’ Elevator Co-op, president of the Grain Growers Grain Company and the first reeve of Silver Creek, Manitoba. Crerar would come to national prominence in...
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Jim Dalrymple
OCTOBER 6, 1943 – JUNE 10, 2017
Animal agriculture specialist and passionate advocate; born Oct. 6, 1943; died June 10, 2017 in Trenton, age 73. Jim Dalrymple’s career in animal agriculture continued long after his 1998 retirement from a 27-year post as the Ontario government’s Brighton-based swine specialist. Until recently, he maintained active involvement in animal agriculture projects for both industry and government through a personal consulting firm, Livestock Technology Services, Jim’s wife...
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James ‘Jim’ Magee
NOVEMBER 2, 1942 – JUNE 24, 2017
Farmer; conservationist; agricultural advocate. Born Nov. 2, 1942; died June 24, 2017 in Woodstock, age 74. Jim Magee was “a binder. He could bring people together to do things,” says Mike Cooper, a friend who served with Magee on the Ontario Farm Animal Council (OFAC). Magee “did a lot of good for the industry. He could say, ‘Here’s what the problem is. Let’s solve it, then, let’s go onto the next one and get it done.’” It was...
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John H. Saunders
FEBRUARY 11, 1856 – FEBRUARY 18, 1950
John “Jack” Huse Saunders was an Ontarian farmer who involved himself in various organizations associated with agricultural development, mostly focusing on poultry. For many years he was associated with several movements for the advancement of the poultry business, and he served as president of some of Ontario’s leading fairs. Saunders was born to American parents on February 11, 1856. He immigrated to Ontario in 1870. Not much is known about his early life, but he...
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Craig Switzer
DECEMBER 6, 1948 – FEBRUARY 24, 2017
Farmer; 4-H Club leader; life member and past-president of Erin Agricultural Society. Born Dec. 6, 1948; died Feb. 24, 2017 in Erin, aged 68. Erin-area residents may have known Craig Switzer as the tractor pull announcer at local fairs. June Switzer met her future husband “in 4-H, of course, showing cattle,” she recalled recently. At the time, Craig was among the University of Guelph’s first agricultural diploma students in farm mechanics. He commuted from his...
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John L. Stansell
JUNE 17, 1875 – OCTOBER 21, 1956
John Lawrence Stansell was a model Ontarian farmer and livestock breeder who actively involved himself in the development and growth of the livestock industry. He was born on June 17, 1875 in Haughton, Norfolk County, the son of Joseph A. Stansell, a descendant of United Empire loyalists. He attended public school in Aylmer before attending the Collegiate Institute in the same town, reaching an academic level that was considerably higher than that of the average farm boy of the time. Upon...
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Gilbert “Gil” Henderson
SEPTEMBER 5, 1926 – JANUARY 30, 2017
Farmer and conservationist. Born Sept. 5, 1926; died Jan. 30, 2017 in Brantford, age 90. Conservation influenced most of Gil Henderson’s work in agriculture. He earned a 2010 Lieutenant Governor’s Heritage Award for lifetime achievement for his conservation efforts. Together with his wife Molly, Gil won the Environmental Stewardship Award from the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association in 1998. The couple also won the Brant County Farm Family of the Year Award in 1997. They...
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James A. McSloy
SEPTEMBER 5, 1855 - APRIL 10, 1926
James A. McSloy was a manufacturer, fruit grower, dairy farmer, and horseman of considerable reputation and capability. He was most well-known for founding the Canadian Hair Cloth Co., a company which thrived under his leadership, and operating the Martindale dairy farm, which was famous for its Guernsey stock. McSloy was born on September 5, 1855, in St. Catharines, where he would spend the majority of his life. He was educated at a private school before attending the St. Catharines...
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Frederick Stimson
NOVEMBER 27, 1842 - JANUARY 15, 1912
The son of a wealthy merchant and farmer Frederick Stimson, born in 1842, had many advantages while growing up in Compton, Quebec. Upon his father’s death Stimson inherited the family farm and much of his father’s money. While in charge of the farm he grew it until it was one of the largest farms in the district with 124 cattle and 23 horses over 1,000 acres of land. In 1881 Stimson decided to change his path and become a rancher out west due in part to the economic...
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Brenda Lammens
SEPTEMBER 19, 1955 - FEBRUARY 11, 2017
Farmer and industry leader. Born Sept. 19, 1955; died Feb. 11, 2017 in Woodstock, age 61. Interest rate challenges 30 years ago led Norfolk County farmers Brenda and Raymond Lammens to their Spearit Farms asparagus operation near Langton. That decision led, in turn, to Brenda’s distinguished career as a champion of fresh, local produce and her advocacy for a higher profile for women in agriculture. Brenda was a past winner of the American Agri-Women Vision Award. She also served,...
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Morris Sagriff
1955 - 2016
Agronomist; CCA-ON. Born in 1955 in Ernestown Township; died on Nov. 10, 2016 in Chatham, aged 61. In his earliest memory of Morris Sagriff, Dave Harwood recalled recently, he was to speak following the highly-regarded, DuPont Pioneer Hi-Bred agronomist at a crop information meeting in southwestern Ontario. Sagriff was well known among colleagues for energetic talks. But Harwood, fresh out of school and working for a competitor, remembers thinking “that was a very tough act to...
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Celebrating 150 Years of Canadian Agriculture