Recognizing a person, persons or organizations for achievement within the realm of agriculture and service of benefit to the rural community of Lambton and beyond.
We are proud to be a part of the Lambton Heritage Museum: there is an interactive display at our local museum that showcases our past inductees and Lambton’s amazing agriculture history. Take a trip and see the display today or visit the virtual exhibit on their website!
The Hall of Fame would like to invite you to support Lambton County, and its agriculture by becoming a member of the Hall of Fame. This program can’t continue without individual and business support from people like you!
The Agricultural Hall of Fame has a volunteer board of nine, with Joanne Sanderson as chair and Gary Atkinson as vice-chair. They welcome any questions or thoughts, and can be reached at [email protected].
Membership form: (Voting) Membership Application
- 3-year term: Gary Atkinson, Irene Jardine, Joanne Sanderson.
- 2-year term: Bryan Boyle, Kyle Maw, John Young
- 1-year term: Brenda Miner, Brenda Stewardson, Blair Williamson
- County of Lambton Representative: Dave Ferguson
- Secretary/Treasurer: Christina Hyatt
- Gary Martin, LFA
The Lambton Agricultural Hall of Fame offers two types of memberships; a non-voting lifetime business and a voting lifetime membership.
The Lambton Agricultural Hall of Fame would like to thank our supporters from the business community:
- Farm Credit Canada
- Breeder Club
- Feeder Club
- Village of Point Edward
- Township of Brooke-Alvinston
- Township of Dawn-Euphemia
- Lambton Grain Farmers
- Lambton Federation of Agriculture
- Walnut Acres
- PJ Seeds
- Moore Agricultural Society
- Forbesvue Farms
- Libro Credit Union
- AGRIS Co-operative Brigden
- Lambton County Woodlot Association
- Lambton County Pork Producers
- Lambton 4-H Association
- Petrolia & Enniskillen Agricultural Society
Click below for a Nomination Form:
Hall of Fame Inductees
Bert Vandendool, 80, received the honours virtually recently with local dignitaries and dozens of family, friends and college classmates on the video call, said Bryan Boyle, a member of the hall of fame volunteer board.
“It showed the influence that Bert has had on others through his life,”he said.
Vandendool, a Ridgetown Agricultural College graduate, was an early member of the Lambton Federation of Agriculture, Lambton Soil and Crop Improvement Association and Lambton Farm Safety Association member, and a provincial director for 15 years with the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association.
The father of four grown children whose 1,000-head-capacity beef feedlot is now owned and operated by his son Derek and his family, founded the Lambton Feeder Finance Co-operative that borrows substantial sums at preferred rates to help beef feeders to borrow easier.
That first cooperative has grown to 16 in Ontario with 800 members who in 2019 borrowed more than $130 million to purchase feeder cattle, Boyle said.
“He will be noted as the founder of that forever,” he said.
Feeder cattle are calves sold to feedlots where they’re fed for beef production.
Also an active member of the Wallaceburg Christian Reformed Church and committee member with the Wallaceburg Christian Reformed School, Vandendool is known for his honesty and integrity, and for providing employment opportunities to those in need, Boyle said.
“Bert was always sensitive to those who were down on their luck, had family issues or possibly substance abuse,” he said. “And he was able to give them gainful employment and mentor them, work with them.”
Vandendool is the 16th inductee to the hall of fame since it began in 2010.
Others have included former ministers of agriculture Lorne Henderson and Ralph Ferguson, and other meaningful contributors to agriculture in Sarnia-Lambton.
Inductees’ names are added to plaques with all hall members, housed at the sites of the Brigden, Petrolia, Wyoming, Forest and Alvinston fall fairs.
They also receive individual plaques to keep.
The hall of fame is part of the Lambton Heritage Museum.
Board members regularly encourage nominees, Boyle said.
“Because people in general are modest.”
Families accept honours on behalf of posthumous inductees, he said.
From: [email protected]
Leonard McNeil was considered – in more ways than one- a giant in Lambton County.
Not just for his physical appearance but also for his dedication and devotion to family, friends and his farm. His wife Margaret and daughter Barbara were his most loved and valuable asset.
He was very proud of his cow-calf operation and the 500 acres of cropland, incorporating conservation practices ahead of the curve.
In addition, Leonard also devoted his time and energy to his community inside and outside Lambton County. It is an impressive list:
- Lambton Plowman’s association
- Lambton Cattleman’s Association
- Lambton Soil and Crop Association
- Councilor, then Mayor of Brooke township 1992-1996
- First Mayor of the newly amalgamated Brooke Alvinston
- Warden of Lambton County
- Masonic Lodge : several positions
- Bass Drum Player with the Petrolia Highland Band
- Auctioneer – in various locations in SW Ontario
- And last but most certainly not least:
Chair of the 1991 Lambton Plowing Match.
Working tirelessly for 5 years to secure the match, he also acted as Chair, leading a large volume of volunteers to a highly successful and very profitable event. Leonard was focused on establishing the ’91 IPM Scholarship from the investment of the profits from the plowing match.
Thanks to his vision and perseverance, 100+ Lambton County post-secondary students have received over $150,000 in scholarship funds.
Leonard McNeil was a generous, honourable and modest man. He made an exemplary contribution to the agricultural community in Lambton County and beyond.
Sarnia Observer article:
The late Leonard McNeil is the 2019 inductee to the Lambton Agricultural Hall of Fame.
The former mayor of Brooke Township – and first mayor of Brooke-Alvinston after the neighbouring communities amalgamated – was also a warden of Lambton County, an auctioneer, a cattle and cash crop farmer, and leader of a group that brought the International Plowing Match to the county in 1991.
McNeil was born in 1950 and died in 2002.
Kyle Maw, chairperson of the hall of fame, didn’t know McNeil personally, but said when people are still talking about the impact someone had nearly 20 years after their death, “that certainly is a testament to what they achieved.”
The announced from the hall of fame noted the International Plowing Match group McNeil led used the profit from the event to create a scholarship program that has awarded 99 post-secondary students more than $150,000 in total in the years since.
It said McNeil was proud of his beef herd that was part of a cow-calf operation on his farm.
“He was certainly a well-rounded individual,” said Maw, noting McNeil’s involvement in farming, auctioneering and municipal politics.
McNeil was a councillor in the former Brooke Township from 1992 to 1998, and then became mayor. He was county warden in 1999 and then, when Brooke and the village of Alvinston amalgamated, he became the new municipality’s mayor in 2000 and served in that post until his death.
McNeil made an impression when he entered a room.
“You couldn’t help but see him,” said Don McGugan, a former Brooke-Alvinston mayor and neighbour of McNeil and his family.
“He was nearly 400 pounds and six-foot, six, roughly,” and was a “jolly” person who “always had a joke,” said McGugan, who became mayor following McNeil’s death.
McGugan said McNeil was a supporter of the community and a busy auctioneer.
He added McNeil and his father kept a team of horses, and both took part in plowing matches.
from: [email protected]
Brandon Brothers Stables and Robert & John McCormick
Brandon Brothers Stables – James Brandon, William J. Brandon, Robert Brandon
Brandon Brothers Stables has a long and storied history with the Clydesdale horse. William Brandon began the legacy of Brandon Bros. in the 1880’s as livestock dealers, cattlemen and Clydesdale horse breeder.
The Clydesdale horse was integral as a draft horse, known for its strength stamina, confirmation and beauty.
The Brandon brothers, James, William Jr and Robert established a breeding program and produced top quality and sought-after horses from 1904 to 1948. James and John were six horse hitch drivers, showmen and breeder for Brandon Stables until the early 1950’s.
R. James was a director for the Ontario Clydesdale Club in the 1940’s . His continued involvement with the breed as a show judge continued until his retirement in 1990.
John had a term as the President of the Ontario Clydesdale Club and became a lead driver for the U.S. companies using 6 -8 horse hitched for advertising and showing at the national and world level in the 1950’s and 1960’s. During the 70’s and 80’s he continued as a horse owner, dealer as Brandon Horses and judge.
Don Brandon continued in the family business with his father in Brandon Horses, showing until the mid 1990’s.
Four generations of horsemen made an impact on the industry for over 100 years in Lambton County, provincially, national and internationally.
The Brandon families of Warwick Township were second to none when it came to the breeding history of the Clydesdale, and that’s what was needed Smart breeding, not just on the Sire’s side but the Dam’s as well.
The preferred colour of the Clydesdale is a bay body with four white legs and a white face. Sounds easy enough. At one time the Clydesdale horse was white in colour. It’s quite possible to get a bay horse from a roan coloured pair of breeders, but it’s also possible to get the opposite, bay to roan. It was the right combination of blood-lines that made it all work.
The Brandon’s were horse people “plain and simple”. Stallions and mares for breeding, geldings for work, the catching of pee for medical use, dust from their coats also a medical use, tail and mane hair for the stuffing of furniture & the making of violin bow’s, and their manure for the strawberry patch, even when the horses hoofs were trimmed, throw the disregarded hoof pieces to the dog, they love chewing on them. Everything with the horse was used. They were in the horse industry.
Their talents raised them to the top and they held that position a long time. By my time, and I was only involved with the hitching part of the business, it seemed as if we were just part of a circus at times.
Robert & John McCormick
Four brothers, Robert, John, Richard and Joseph McCormick, whose family was originally from Ireland, either worked or operated a brick and tile making business and were farmers in Warwick Township operating eventually as “McCormick Bros. Brick and Tile Yard”.
The business operated on two farms, one on Kingscourt and the second one on Brickyard Line and eventually the business included a sawmill.
The brothers operated the largest brick and tile manufacturing business west of London from 1869 to 1904.
Many of the brick businesses and homes in Watford, Forest and Warwick were built with McCormick Bros. brick and farms were drained with McCormick Bros tile.
Both John and Robert owned farms. Robert was a breeder of Shorthorn, Durham and Hereford cattle and Shetland ponies on his farm John and Robert were involved with municipal affairs, both locally and provincially.
Thousands of acres of land have been drained by the tile and many carloads of brick were shipped from the Kingscourt station. It was said the bricks were well made and sold from three to four dollars a thousand and were made taken from clay taken from McCormick Farms.
Robert J. McCormick (1848–1943) was born in Ireland, but his parents were Scottish. He came to Warwick Twp. in 1862 or 1863, where he was a farmer and brick maker. McCormick was a Councillor from 1882 to 1891, Deputy Reeve in 1891, Warden of Lambton County from 1892 to 1894, and was elected MPP for Lambton East in 1908 and held it until 1914.
When Robert J. McCormick (1848–1943) came to Canada with his two younger brothers, Richard and George, he hired out as a farm boy in the summers, his first wages being $9 a month plus board. In the winters he attended school when not doing chores. He spent two years with Isaac Eves, learning the brick making business and then he made bricks for John D. Eccles. By 1869 he had started making bricks for himself, renting the Eccles brickyard. Eight years later he bought the Eccles brickyard and farm, located on Lot 14, Con. 2 NER. In 1882 he took his brother Joseph into partnership with him, forming the firm McCormick Bros. Brick and Tile Yard. In 1887 he took his brother John as partner in a second brickyard on Lot 7, Con. 4 SER, where they also built a sawmill. Robert J. and John ran this until 1904. The brothers operated the largest brick and tile manufacturing business west of London. Many of the brick businesses and homes in Watford, Forest and Warwick were built with McCormick Bros. brick and the farms were drained with McCormick Bros. tile.
R. J. McCormick married Elizabeth L. Smith, daughter of George and Mary Ann (Thomas) Smith. Their three daughters were Mary Alice (Allie), Pearl (Perley), and Ruby.
Robert J. McCormick was a breeder of cattle and Shetland ponies on his farm. He also took an interest in municipal affairs and served both locally and provincially.
John McCormick (1859–1941), Robert J.’s brother, was born on Lot 12, Con. 5 NER. He farmed 400 acres, raising cattle and breeding horses. He also operated the brick and tile yard business south of the Egremont Rd. with his brother.
John married Susan Jane Luckham (1859–1944). They built a beautiful, large brick home at Kingscourt. John and Susan had six children: Louisa Myrtle (1888–1969) married Frederick Paul (1889–1966); John Russell (1890–) married Martha McLeay (1886–1966); Joseph Cecil (1892–1939) married Lillian Irene Rankin (1900–1939); Sarah Jane (Jean, 1895–1960); Mary Edythe (1896–1981) married Dr. Russell G. Woods (1895–1973); and Thomas Luckham (1898–1948). John was also active in municipal politics. He died at Kingscourt.
Kingscourt was also known for its extensive brickyards run by John McCormick, who opened the first plant in 1872. R. H. Stapleford explained:
The first brick ovens in Lambton County were built by the late John McCormick. The McCormick brothers came to this country from Ireland and all four brothers opened up brick making plants at different points in the Township of Warwick. The other brothers, Robert, Joseph and Richard, along with Robert furnished most all the bricks which went into new homes in the east part of Lambton County. Thousands of acres of land have been drained by the tile made at the McCormick ovens. Many carloads were shipped from the Kingscourt station. The bricks were well made and sold from three to four dollars a thousand and were made from the clay taken from McCormick farms.
W. P. MacDonald and J. Arthur Griffith
Petrolia resident served as Lambton County’s Agriculture Representative for 40 Years
Many of the older farmers in the area have often commented that that few men were more instrumental in the agricultural development of Lambton County than Petrolia’s W.P. MacDonald.
William P. MacDonald was born in 1886 near Stayner, Ontario where he grew up on the family farm. After attending local schools he enrolled at the Ontario Agricultural College, graduating from that facility with honours in 1915.
Fresh out of college, he moved to Petrolia, Ont. where in 1916 he assumed the position of Lambton County Agricultural representative and held that post until his retirement on June 1, 1956. It has been said that several times during his long career he had passed up offers for promotion, rather than leave Lambton County. Known to all at the time as one of a most highly respected and knowledgeable men in Ontario agriculture, it left many to speculate that he may well have become the deputy minister of agriculture had opted to move on from his post in Lambton.
In an article in the Petrolia Advertiser Topic its editor described MacDonald as a man of another age who saw farming not so much as an industry but as a culture. “He had an encyclopedic knowledge of Lambton soils and Lambton people,” stated the article. “To him the soil and the people were as one and he condemned the oil industry for drawing farmers away from their land and handing them false premises of quick riches.”
It is widely agreed among those who knew him that W.P. MacDonald’s greatest contribution to agriculture was his role in overseeing the formation of the many farmer organizations that over the years have greatly benefited Lambton’s agricultural community.
He was instrumental in the organization of the Lambton Junior Farmers Association, Lambton Federation of Agriculture, Lambton County Soil and Crop Improvement Association and numerous cattle clubs throughout the county.
The Hon. Ralph Ferguson, former Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MP and Minister of Agriculture, noted that it was W.P. who prompted many young farmers to take an active role in both federal and provincial farm organizations which helped develop leadership skills that were sadly lacking among farmers of that era.
Ferguson noted that he was among many who came up through the ranks of the Junior Farmers and many other Lambton farm organizations with the inspiration and encouragement of W.P. MacDonald.
Ferguson added that it was only years later when he read W.P. MacDonald’s memoirs that he understood his reason for encouraging the formation of Junior Farmers Clubs across the entire county.
“He wrote that the farm community of that era, before and after the Great Depression and World War Two, lacked capable leaders who could advance farmers and their organizations to a better and more prosperous life in society,” said Ferguson. “His goal was to see those leadership skills instilled in Lambton County’s young farmers.”
He added that when one considers, the number of number of leaders of both national and provincial marketing boards who have originated from Lambton County, W.P. MacDonald’s foresight and objectives were certainly achieved.
Brooke-Alvinston mayor Don McGugan recalled attending Junior Farmer meetings in the old Agriculture Office on Petrolia’s main street as a teenager and greatly admired W.P. MacDonald for his commitment to agriculture and young people.
“I don’t think he ever spent a night at home,” said McGugan.“He was out to a Junior Farmers, 4-H or a commodity group meeting every night, he inspired a lot of young people to become active in these organizations.”
In the early days of the 20th century school fairs also played an important role in agricultural education.These were popular social events for rural schools and often involved the entire community, not just the students and teaching staff. Once again it was W.P. MacDonald who came to the fore in preparing and executing the school fair program throughout Lambton County.
Enniskillen Township farmer Roy Elliott recalled as a teen taking part in agricultural field trips lead by W.P. MacDonald. “Mac always told us that a farm that would grow good crops would also grow good weeds,” he said. “We always joked that in that case there were a lot of good farms around in those days.”
W.P MacDonald also took a keen interest in the political and civic affairs of his home-town of Petrolia. He was a long-time member of the Petrolia and Enniskillen Agriculture Society and was active in that town’s Chamber of Commerce. An avid curler, he was a founding member of the Petrolia Curling club and once guided that organization to a provincial championship.
In addition to being a charter member of the Petrolia Rotary Club he was an active and devoted member of St. Phillips Church. He was among those who participated in the sod-turning ceremony to launch construction of the town’s new arena and fair exhibit building in 1961, having participated enthusiastically in the three-year fund -raising campaign that proceeded that joyous occasion.
W.P. MacDonald remained an active member of the Petrolia community until the time of his death on Mar. 5, 1971 at the age of 85. He rests at Hillsdale Cemetery.
J. Arthur Griffith
Arthur Griffith was a highly respected Egg Producer.
As well as taking pride in producing eggs, he felt compelled to become involved in the business side by becoming a councillor on the Lambton County Egg Board. He served many years on the board and was highly respected. He gave up his position on the board as he was becoming more involved in the farming side of business.
Arthur demonstrated a supporting cast for Carolynne as she became more involved in the Egg Board and took on positions at the board level. Arthur and Carolynne were partners and they conveyed the complete package to represent farming. Arthur was willing to give advice when many others would not. His advice would be confident and yet very encouraging. If you were to talk to a number of farmers they would tell you how Arthur’s kind and inspiring words helped them have the assurance in their decisions.
As Arthur became older his health deteriorated and he wasn’t able to be involved in farming as much physically, but he always was on top of the latest farming news and technologies and he would gladly converse with anyone at anytime. Even in his travels locally and abroad Arthur always loved to talk about his experiences in farming and how it affected his life.
Arthur loved farming, working on the land and he felt it an obligation to leave the world a better place then when he found it. We always looked to Arthur as an example for his work ethic, which was a major factor in his success. Arthur wanted to exemplify the importance of being a farmer as well as being a businessman and he did this well. He treated his farming as a business and it was evident in the success he achieved.
As well as his participation in farming Arthur was involved in many other associations. He became a seed sales representative in his area. He was a prominent individual in his community and he took every advantage to display his love for his community whenever he could.
Arthur was also an avid member of the Inwood Fireman’s Association where he was a volunteer for many years. Here he also liked to promote the “Inwood Firemen’s Fish Fry” that was run yearly. It was at venues like these that you could find Art and visit with him and catch up on news and such.
Arthur loved his family and friends. Arthur was definitely a people person and his lineage of friends and peers that he left behind was evident. His outgoing personality gave him the ability to attract friends whenever he went.
As Arthur moved on in his life and his son became more involved, Arthur adjusted to a more managing position but still did some jobs around the farm. He did it with grace and dignity and when we would run into Arthur at various events he would always tell us what was happening on the farm and what a great job his son John and his farm managers were doing.
Also, when you would run into Arthur he would always start a conversation with “Remember When?” and then we would start reminiscing about stories that had happened. It was always fun to remember these good times with Arthur.
We had much respect for Arthur as he spoke of his passion for agriculture and for life in general. He set many goals and he met them. He worked hard for his success and when he met adversity he adjusted accordingly. When he met his goals, he set new goals. We always looked to Arthur as an example for his work ethic. The Egg sector was a major contributing factor to Arthur’s succces and he never forgot this and expressed this on a regular basis
Arthur’s life was cut too short but in his lifetime he became a respected farmer and businessman and most of all a very good friend. His contributions to farming will not be forgotten and his legacy lives on.
Anthony Noorloos and Raymond Moorehouse
On July 3, 2012, the OCA and Lambton communities lost a valued member with the passing of an OCA Past President, Tony Noorloos. Tony had many attributes that are part of his legacy.
Tony was a key member and supporter of his local church community. When demand emerged for a new church in his community Tony was a key catalyst in translating that interest into a new building to serve the community’s needs. He made a specific effort to assure that his six children, 28 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren shared his faith as an important part of their lives. Besides witnessing his faith in his busy weekly work activities, Tony always valued time for church involvement.
Tony showed great respect for others and as a result earned respect from people in the community. He always valued the perspective of other beef producers, even if their approach differed from his own. His feedlot was always open and welcomed many visitors ranging from Cattlemen’s bus trips to politicians to seniors to school children. Despite many other time commitments, Tony and his family always shared their time and welcomed visitors.
One of Tony’s most notable characteristics was his work ethic, exemplified by his long hours committed to his farm and feedlots. At a time when others might be considering retirement, Tony still demonstrated a strong example in his work habits towards which others could aspire. From the time he arrived in Southwestern Ontario as an 18-year-old immigrant from Holland, Tony pursued his dream of an active and vibrant farming operation. From his start in the sugar beet and seed corn fields through farm labour on local livestock farms and evening work in a local industrial factory, Tony never lost sight of his goal. In many cases, piecework allowed him to be rewarded financially for his noted work ethic. That work ethic helped translate his modest beginning in farming into the large and viable beef and cropping operation that currently exists.
Tony was always at the leading edge of production technologies. Balanced rations, feed storage and handling, marketing, equipment and animal husbandry are some of the areas that hold many examples of Tony’s innovations.
Tony followed in the footsteps of one of his early mentors, Lawrence Markusse, in getting involved with the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association. He served on the OCA board from 1976 to 1985, was OCA president in 1982 and a member of the OCA Executive Committee from 1977 to 1983. He also served on the Board of Canadian Cattlemen’s Association from 1980 to 1982. Tony’s involvement at OCA was during difficult times – wage and price controls in the mid-1970s, high inflation in the late 1970s, interest rates in excess of 20% in the early 1980s and the aftermath of debt problems through most of that decade. His work ethic, integrity and commitment to a market-driven beef business helped to shape the years in the Ontario beef sector that followed.
Sharing for the Collective Good:
Tony was continually eager to share his knowledge and interests with other producers. His role as a key player in Lambton Cattlemen and the OCA was a classic example. Lambton Future Feeders, a group of 50 Lambton beef feeders who contributed to on-farm feeding trials enjoyed the benefits of his input and support. From his initial efforts to attend the Michigan State University beef short courses, the event has grown into one that attracts several American presenters to bring their latest beef production right to Lambton County each year for a large number of interested beef producers.
Tony created many lasting personal relationships in his business and personal life. Cattle buyers, feed companies, transporters, input suppliers and packers all know that he valued service and integrity above costs. His word was golden with them and his customer loyalty was strong.
Tony will be greatly missed by all those who knew him, but the large and active beef and cropping operations involving his spouse Tena, sons John and Al, their spouses Margaret and Marlene and the next generation assure that his legacy and values will live on.
- Very involved with re-birth of sugar beet production in Lambton County
- Dedicated member of his church community
- Passed on love of farming to sons John and Alfred, who are also very respected among fellow cattle producers
Contributions to Cattlemen Associations
- Lambton Cattlemen director for many years and County President in 1974
- Participated in Lambton Future Feeders, which involved feeding trials with local farmers
- Hosted many visits to his beef feedlot over the years, including groups and schoolchildren
- Attended Michigan State University beef short courses and helped bring the courses to Lambton County
- Provincial Director 1976-1986 for Lambton
- Hosted feedlot demonstration day in 1976 for County producers
- Served on Ontario Board from 1976-1985
- One of two Lambton County residents to become an OCA President in 1982
- OCA Executive Committee from 1977-1983
- Served on Canadian Cattlemen’s Association from 1980-1982
- Well known and respected by fellow producers, cattle buyers, feed companies, transporters, input suppliers and packers
In 1965 Ray started Stormor Ltd. at the family farm to supply and install on-farm grain handling, drying and storage systems. This allowed farmers to keep their grain at their operation allowing them to market or process it independently.Rays entrepreneurial and innovative skills were transferred to his customers contributing to their own success. By using his products, farmers were able to achieve value added prices by seeking markets not available at harvest.
Starting from a small barn servicing local producers Lambton Conveyor has grown to a 200,000 sq ft factory selling grain systems to all grain producing regions of the world. Ray experimented with bio-fuels to dry grain in the 1980’s and growing corn in 19″ rows before adopting 30″ in the 1970’s. The business has grown from a reseller to manufacturer of grain equipment. Who doesn’t remember “yellow tile” that Ray imported to help farmers save money.
The company has expanded beyond Lambton County to the entire province and eventually to the world market. The names Stormor, Eeze-Dry and Lambton Conveyor are known worldwide. They even have a facility in China serving the Asian market!
Many a farm boy got his start working for “Stormor” saving up for his first tractor or farm. Many have become large and successful producers contributing to their own local communities. This year Ray and his family are celebrating 50 years in business.
Jerry Tiffin Ferguson and Charles Lawes
Jerry Tiffin Ferguson
Ferguson was born in England and moved to Canada in 1910. He was employed on a farm and received board and $40 per year. At the end of that year he had $39.50 in the bank. His brother Joe moved to Canada and secured a position managing a farm in Dawn Township, where Jerry went to work.
Jerry met his wife, Mary Evelyn (Effie) Ward who lived just around the corner and they were married in 1921. They lived on Concession 11 in Dawn Township and had a family of four boys : Lyle, Allen, Donald and Ross.
Jerry farmed the 50 acre property at Lot 29 Concession 11 of Dawn Township and in the late 1950s bought the 100 acre Angus MacAlpine farm at Lot 28 Concession 11.
Jerry was always willing to share his knowledge of raising livestock, and was often called upon for his specific expertise with the care and doctoring of animals. A veterinarian was very seldom, if ever, at the Ferguson farm.
Jerry was held in high regard by his peers for his knowledge of the Shorthorn cattle breed which originated in the Northeastern part of England. He operated a cow/calf business for many years paying close attention to breeding of these cattle to keep the blood lines pure.
The sow business was primarily selling the wieners but he kept the odd one to butcher for his family. The Yorkshire hog originated in England and was introduced to Canada in 1940. It proved to be the right class of pig for the Canadian market.
Barred Rock Chickens
In the 1940’s and early 1950’s Ferguson’s flock supplied eggs for the Lambton Kent Creamery; with business in both Wallaceburg and Petrolia. With the family’s help, the eggs had to be weighted and candled manually before packing for shipping.
This breeding flock was one of the first in this area. Glasses were put on the hens and roosters after they were blood tested to maintain a healthy flock. The glasses served as a measure to prevent cannibalism in the flock by distorting their vision.
Jerry was best known for his plowing abilities. He plowed with a tractor and a two furrow plow in competitions all over Ontario and Michigan. For many years he borrowed a tractor; either by calling ahead to the match organizers or making a deal with a friend. Doing this allowed him to load the plow in the back of his pickup truck and travel easily to matches.
Around 1959 he purchased a new model 22 Massey Harris tractor. This plow was a customized Massy Harris 26 plow for competition only. With the help of his son Lyle, they created a specialized setup. A trailer was built that would tilt to allow the plow to be loaded in the back of the pickup, then they could load the tractor on the trailer.
Jerry was called upon to be a director and a judge of the International Plowing Match and various county matches. He was Champion Plowman at the Lambton County match on several occasions. He was honoured when he and his son Ross were declared as having the best two plowed lands on the grounds at a match in Shetland.
In 1956, in Essex, Jerry won the Ontario championship and came second the next day for the Canadian championship. Jerry plowed his last IPM in 1973 in Alvinston at the age of 81 where he placed second in the Open Class for Ontario.
On Display at Lambton Heritage Museum
After Jerry’s passing the Lambton County Plowman’s Association asked his family if they would be interested in donating his tractor to the museum. The family graciously donated the tractor, plow and several trophies. They can be seen in the white agricultural display building.
- Over 20 years as a member of Lambton County Plowmen’s Association
- Lambton’s representative on OPA from 1965 – 1967
- Treasurer & committee member of the Oakdale Picnic
- Member for over 50 years of Alexander Masonic Lodge No. 158 – Oil Springs. Served as Worshipful Master in 1944
Charles H Lawes’ dedication to family, farming and community service have been high priorities in his life. He bought his first farm in Brooke Township at 20 years of age. The farm expanded over the years to encompass 250 acres and produced crops common to the area.
He served as an outstanding member of the Lambton Ploughmen’s Association for more than 20 years. Charles was always willing and able to help with organizing plowing matches and his leadership helped secure the I.P.M. (International Plowing Match) held in Enniskillen in 1991.
Charles was very involved in local politics, serving as Councillor, Deputy-Reeve and Reeve of the Township of Brooke. In 1974 he was the first Deputy-Reeve to be elected Warden of Lambton County.
Anyone who ever worked with ‘Charlie’ found he possessed excellent leadership qualities and was a joy to work with.
When he retired from farming he and his wife, Ruth McTavish moved to Inwood.
- Secretary/Treasurer of Fairbanks School 1944 – early 1960s
- 20 years as Director of Lambton County Plowmen’s Association
- Assisted at International Plowing Match held in Brooke in 1973 & Enniskillen in 1991
- President of OPA in 1995
- Councillor for Brooke Township 1965-1967
- Deputy Reeve & Reeve of Brooke Township 1967 – 1978
- Warden of Lambton County 1974
- Alvinston Community Centre Committee representative
- Brooke Municipal Telephone Board 1981-1991
- Inwood United Church Member
- Member of Brooke, Alvinston & Watford Fair Board (president 1971)
Lorne Henderson and Hon. Ralph Ferguson
Lorne Charles Henderson was born in Enniskillen Township, the youngest of three children born to David and Elizabeth (Robinson) Henderson. When Lorne was a month old, his parents moved the family to Lot 8, Concession 5, Enniskillen, the farm on which he grew up, farmed, and where the Henderson family continues to reside today.
Lorne began farming on his own account during the dark days of the Great Depression and got his start in the fall of 1937 when he entered a share-crop agreement with the owner of a farm on the 8th Concession.
He once recounted that his income from the first year of that venture was $50 and two loads of hay. The following year he fared a little better with the take being $100.
In 1939 Lorne began farming at Lot 6, Concession 5 Enniskillen, which belonged to his uncle, Arthur Henderson. Farming was a little better that year and he often recalled that 1940 brought bumper crops of wheat and oats that carried harvesting into Christmas.
Among the many to have made their mark on agricultural and the rural communities of Lambton County, few have left a more indelible imprint than the Hon. Lorne C. Henderson.
With a long and distinguished career of public service at both the local and provincial levels, Lorne was the consummate grassroots politician.
He was known for having the unique ability to set aside partisan political differences to work in the best interest of all his constituents and for the benefit of all farmers across the province.
In January 1946, Lorne was first elected as a councillor on Enniskillen Council and served in that capacity until 1950 when he was elected Deputy Reeve. In 1952 he was elected Reeve and in 1957, Warden of Lambton County. While best known for his role as the long-time MPP for the provincial riding of Lambton and his time as Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture and Food, Lorne was first and foremost a farmer and remained in this vocation his entire life. All who knew him could attest that he loved people, loved his province and certainly held a special affection for Lambton County.
In the summer of 1963, Lorne was encouraged to seek the nomination for the Conservative party in that fall’s provincial election. On Sept. 25, 1963 he was elected with more than 50 per cent of the vote. He was returned to that office in the elections of 1967, 1971, 1975, 1977 and 1981, increasing his majority of the vote each time. In all Lorne served 23 years as the MPP for Lambton.
In 1979 Premier William Davis gave him the job of his dreams when he appointed him Minister of Agriculture and Food. However, it really couldn’t have been a worse time to be Minister of Agriculture.
With interest rates at the time eclipsing 20 per cent and commodity prices in a slump, there was a flurry of farm bankruptcies and the Minister of Agriculture received most of the heat.
David Henderson recalled:
“Pig and cattle farmers were going broke by the handful and every morning there were calls for father’s resignation from the floor of the legislature,” he said. “They were difficult times for everyone.”
Nevertheless, Lorne was re-elected in 1981 with more than 63 per cent of the vote and the following year was appointed Provincial Secretary for Resources Development. After suffering some ill health, Lorne resigned from cabinet in 1983 but completed his term as MPP for Lambton.
In 1985, he retired from provincial politics and returned to the farm where he remained highly active in the local community until the time of his death in 2003.
Lorne attended a one-room school and while he advanced no further than Grade 8, education was always of great importance to him. As former Lambton MPP Marcel Beaubien noted:
“Lorne’s formal education was at the elementary level, but when it came to politics, he certainly had the equivalent of a PhD.”
The heavy clay soil in South Lambton, was for the most part poorly drained and did not lend itself to the production of cash crops. Consequently, most farmers in the area restricted their farming operations to growing hay and pasturing cattle.
However, a neighbouring farm did have four runs of tile across it and at an early age Lorne recognized the value of tile drainage, taking notice that the land above the tile drains maintained better soil structure, was less compacted, and generally grew far superior crops. As a consequence, Lorne was one of the province’s most vocal advocates of farm tile drainage.
Hon. Ralph Ferguson
Ralph Ferguson, an agricultural activist, was born in Mosa Township. He was MP for the federal riding of Lambton-Middlesex from 1980-1984 and again from 1988 until his retirement in 1993. During his tenure as MP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex and Federal Minister of Agriculture and Food, he wrote many policy papers on agriculture that eventually formed the basis of government agricultural policy.
He was appointed parliamentary secretary to two different ministries, appointed Minister of Agriculture and in opposition served as Agriculture Critic and Assistant Critic for International Trade. During his time as Minister of Agriculture and Food, Ferguson welcomed many high-level Canadian and International officials to his home in Lambton.
Ralph is probably most noted for his ”Compare the Share” report which documented the farm gate price, the wholesale price and the retail price of each of the commodity groups. This study illustrated the comparatively low share of margin that accrued to farmers.
After retiring from politics he returned to his Brooke-Alvinston farm where he has remained active in many community projects, including a study of cancer rates in rural Lambton County.
Ralph Ferguson could always be counted on for his sound and practical advice. He was a long-time advocate of supply management and orderly marketing. In the late 1950s Ferguson lobbied for the creation of the Ontario Pork Producers Marketing Board, and in the 1960s, the formation of the Ontario Egg Producers’ Marketing Board. He believed that both would have a positive impact on Lambton’s agricultural community. In the 1970s he was appointed a charter member of the Farm Products Marketing Council.
Always a visionary and often ahead of his time, in the 1970s Ferguson was instrumental in establishing a pilot ethanol research facility in Brooke Township and lobbied the Federal Government to waive the excise tax on fuel alcohol, both measures that helped pave the way for today’s burgeoning ethanol industry.
In 1977 Ferguson was awarded the Queen’s Jubilee Medal his for work in agriculture and community development. An avid conservationist with a special interest in woodlot management, he was the 2004 recipient of the Conservation Farm Award from the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority, recognizing his early efforts at wildlife conservation and woodlot sustainability.
A true innovator, he was an early adapter to liquid fertilizer for field and sweet corn and modified his corn planter for liquid application which enabled him to plant Green Giant sweet corn in the Lambton/Middlesex County area.
- Founding President of Brooke Township Junior Farmers
- Active Lambton 4-H parent
- Founding committeeman of Lambton Pork Producers Association
- Committeeman on Lambton Wheat, White Bean & Soybean Producers Association
- Lambton delegate to Ontario Egg Board
- Lobbied for creation of Ontario Pork Producers Marketing Board & Egg Producers Marketing Board
- President of Brooke-Alvinston Agricultural Society
- Board of Directors for McNeil Feed & Grain Limited
- Member of the Watford High School Board of Education
- Rotary member in Alvinston
- Member of St Andrews Society
- Alvinston Robbie Burns evening committee
Russell Hazzard and J. Edgar Evans
He was 23 years old when Harley Bishop, a local businessman approached him about buying his local feed mill business. Russ had no money but Bishop insisted that he didn’t need any money and could pay him when he was able. He agreed and his business career began January 2, 1947.
He met his wife Margaret at the Royal bank in Wallaceburg where he went weekly to deposit his money from his feed mill business. They were married in August of 1947 and the couple raised 12 children together.
Margaret stood by him as a confident partner and joint owner of the business, she looked after the accounting responsibilities for the business.
Russ established Hazzard’s Grain Elevator in 1947 and later became a founding partner of South West Ag Partners Inc.
Hazzard’s commitment to the customer was the key to the growth experienced by the business over the years. Russ never considered himself a businessman, but rather a farmer from downtown Becher.
He noted that in a few short years this enterprise grew to include a seed cleaning business, an Allis Chalmers dealership, a CIL Fertilizer dealership, a grain elevator, multiple farm service locations, a joint venture with Cargill and an amalgamation with Kent County Fertilizer.
The business today operates as SouthWest Ag Partners Inc and is one the major farm service companies within the region.
- Bethel Pentecostal Church member, ran the bus ministry and occasionally a preacher
- Missionary in Canada, Sri Lanka and around the world
- Member of Gideon‘s International
Induction into the Agricultural Hall of Fame
John Goodison was born in 1849 in Wicklow, Ireland. Together with his parents, five brothers and two sisters, John moved to Canada in 1857, when he was eight years old and settled on a farm in Toronto.
He moved to Strathroy where he conducted a farm equipment business for 14 years, building up a good trade. After selling out of the business, he and his wife, Ida Marger, and two sons, Edwin & William, moved to Sarnia in 1882.
In Sarnia he was employed by the Sarnia Agricultural Implement Company, which would eventually become the John Goodison Thresher Works.
Goodison was one of Sarnia’s most prominent and highly respected citizens. He was known far and wide as the manufacturer of the Goodison Threshing Machine and Tractor Engines.
Goodison brought the rights to the Canadian Thresher, an innovation that dramatically improved the harvest of all local grain growers. His products also improved the harvest for Canadian wheat growers all across the western provinces.
John Goodison was a member of Sarnia’s city council from 1906 to 1915 (excluding 1912) and he also served on Lambton County Council. He was a Liberal and wielded considerable political influence.
He and his two sons owned a stock farm near the city. He also an oil filed in Moore Township, on the 200 acres were eight producing wells.
He was a member of the Methodist Church, the Masonic Craft and the Beaver Lodge.
After moving to Sarnia Goodison worked for the Sarnia Agricultural Implement Company which operated a factory for manufacturing implements. The company was successful in making reapers, threshers, mowers, plows, corn shellers, etc. and expanded in 1884. In 1886, they were forced into liquidation as a result of adverse experimentation and manufacturing difficulties.
Goodison, together with George H Samis purchased the interest and factory of the insolvent company and operated it successfully. The following season, it was sold to Sawyer-Massey of Hamilton. The new firm retained Goodison as the manager.
By the fall of 1889 Goodison again secured sole ownership and renamed it Tunnel City Thresher Works but soon changed it to the John Goodison Threshing Company. With a great deal of determination and business sense he succeeded in building the most thriving threshing machine industry in Ontario. The John Goodison Thresher Company factory was located in Sarnia on Mitton Street between Essex and Maria Streets. The frontage covered the entire distance of the street and three quarters of the block.
At this time John McCloskey of London was becoming famous for the success of his improved design of threshing machines. In 1892, John Goodison secured the rights to build the machine and persuaded McCloskey to work for him, until McCloskey’s death in 1902.
By 1914, the company employed 150 men in the factory as well as six travelling salesmen. Goodison machines were used extensively all over Canada and could be found in every US state, Argentina and South America.
“If it’s as good as a Goodison, it’s a Goodison”
Goodison was also a distributor for Hart-Parr tractors, and later the Oliver line.
On May 5, 1915, Goodison secured a large order of 300 threshers for Western Canada. On the following day, after supervising the loading of machines on the rail car , he did not feel well. His son drove John home and he passed away shortly afterwards.
Edwin, his son and former secretary, took over the firm until he died the following year. John’s son William then assumed the presidency until his death in 1928.
The firm continued to prosper despite these deaths. Among the improvements made were the change to all-steel construction in frames, which completely replaced wooden frames by 1926, the gradual adoption of self-aligning, dust-proof ball bearings by 1927.
Beginning in 1921, to keep up with changing times, the company sold Hart-Parr fuel oil tractors. Hart-Parr merged with Oliver in 1930. Fuel oil was dropped when gasoline was found cheaper to use. Goodison stopped manufacturing steam traction engines in 1927.
Despite the depression of the 1930s, the company built a new factory in 1936 and became one of the largest thresher companies in Canada.
On Display at Lambton Heritage Museum
Don’t miss the collection of Goodison steam engines and the other Goodison artifacts in the white barn.
Lorne Telfer Gordon
Lorne was recycling long before the blue box was invented, taking papers and bottles to the depot in Sarnia and metals to London. Used lumber was never wasted on the Gordon Farm.
It was said that good husbandry was very important to him. Crop rotation and using organic fertilizer were just some of the early practices to which he adhered.
Planting trees along roadsides and around buildings for windbreaks helped stop the movement of loose soil in the summer and snow in the winter on the farm. Trees were planted along fence lines to control surface water runoff as his farm seemed to be a bit lower than his neighbours and was often flooded.
Gordon also planted trees along an open ditch and planted a woodlot on an established gully. Reforesting after logging for lumber and fuel for cooking and heating were important practices for Lorne.
Lorne lived on Gordon Line in the former Bosanquet Township, on a road now named in his memory.
Gordon was an active member in the local farm forum meetings that extended education to the rural areas from 1941 to 1965.
Gordon continuously updated the equipment on his home dairy operation with modern technology and also did some custom work for his neighbours.
He purchased his first tractor in 1944 and eventually expanded with a forage harvester, self-unloading wagons, balers, sprayer combine and self-unloading hoper wagons.
Lorne Gordon died in 1994 at age 87. His grandson Bill Gordon now runs the home farm and fondly remembers all his grandfather taught him about farming.
- Member of Ontario Federation of Agriculture
- Lambton County Milk committee
- Founding Member of Bluewater Transport Company
- Sponsor of World Vision children
- Member of Knox Presbyterian Church in Thedford, served as Elder, Clerk of Session s and on the Board of Managers
- Trustee and Secretary-Treasurer for SS. No 6 Bosanquet School
- Cemetery Board Member
- Active member of the Arkona Seniors Group