Origins of Lanark County Junior Farmers

Posted by on September 2, 2016 in Community & Family History, Featured Flag | 2 comments

Yes I have been doing art and art things but I’ve been diverted …to one of my other interests, family and community history!

Just before leaving for Phoenix I received a phone call – a voice from the past. Alvin wanted me to get in touch with someone who was urgently trying to find out information about the Lanark County Junior Farmers. I delayed in making the requested phone call to Barclay Nap until Wednesday and as a result spent yesterday delving into the history of an organization that intertwines with my family history. This is a plea for contributions to this story!

Origin – The Agricultural Extension Programs and Farmers Clubs in Lanark County

Lanark County was one of the first six counties(Lanark, Dundas, Victoria, Simcoe, Waterloo, and Essex) to get an agricultural representative in 1907. (Roy Hamer 1907-1911). He worked with the Perth Collegiate to launch an agricultural course which was still part of the curriculum when I attended in the 1960’s and organized the first Farmers Club in Perth in 1907. This led to the establishment of Farmers Clubs in a number of communities throughout the county where speakers for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Agrologists from the Canada Experimental Farm in Ottawa brought information about egg candling and grading, control of weeds in crops, new cattle breeds and crop varieties, control of potato blight, wheat rust and smut and a host of other topics of interest to farmers in the area.

Additional research is required to find out more about the Perth Farmer’s Club (and others) but I was able to glean some insight into the activities of the Almonte Farmers’ Club via the Almonte Gazette. A detailed report of the discussion of wheat rust and smut can be found in a January 1913 Almonte Gazette article that proclaims this the reorganization of the Ramsay Township Farmers’ Club. Sixty were in attendance. In July the members met to hear Mr. Newman, Department of Agriculture and secretary of the Canadian Seed Growers Association speak about the organization of seed depots for the distribution of registered seed across Canada. In February 1916 Professor Elford addressed both the Farmers’ Club and the boys short course in Almonte on the topic of poultry management. At the regular Farmer’s Club meeting the concept of cooperative marketing of farm produce was the topic of discussion. In January 1917 prices for different varieties of seed from various sources were presented and orders taken. No 1 Marquis wheat would be available to Farmers’ Clubs at a cost of $2.75 per bushel in the car loads ordered by the club. A report of the recent Eastern Ontario Dairy Association meeting was presented discussing reasons for resisting the introduction of pay by butterfat test for milk received at local cheese factories.

Mr. Hamer oversaw the introduction of the South Lanark Cow Testing Program that was introduced in 1908. I well remember the monthly visits from Record of Performance (ROP) reps who visited regularly during my childhood. The ritual of testing for butterfat that followed the weighing of milk production from individual cows was a fascination of my childhood. An Ottawa Citizen article about the 75th anniversary of Agricultural extension program (1982) indicates that by 1915 there were more than 60 farmer’s keeping records of their milk production in Lanark.

Not all of the activities were so serious as a ‘basket picnic’ was announced for the end of June 1924 in Barker’s Grove. All were welcome, not just farmers. I’m sure there were many more social events but my archival research to date has skipped around a bit. More research is required!

Ernest Miller - Lanark County,

Ernest Miller – Lanark County, Showing Sheep at Ottawa Winter Fair

 JFAO  4 Apr 1944. The fourteen provisional directors of the newly formed JFAO were: Bernard Valiquette, Arnprior; Ernest Miller, Perth; William Nightingale, Belleville; Charlie Lane, Oakwood; Gordon Orr, Maple; Charlotte McCullough, Georgetown; Raymond Jagelevski, Walkerton; Lloyd Rouse, Beamsville; Warne Emmott, Brantford; Harry Gehrin, Delhi; Raymond Arbogast, Stratford; Harry McCracken, Longwood; Janet Munro, Embro; and Howard Laidlaw, Norval. 

Courses for Farmers’ Sons

At the 75th anniversary of the Extension Service Branch held at the Perth Fairgrounds, one speaker noted that the biggest obstacle these early Agricultural Representatives faced was summed up by an old farmer who was quoted as saying “I don’t want some clean shaven young fellow fresh out of college telling me how to run my farm.” As a result the programs of the day were often aimed to the young people.

By the winter of 1914, a short course in agricultural practices were offered for sons of farmers and was well attended. It was held in Pakenham with 25 in attendance. In 1915 six attended a course in Drummond Centre at either the Township or Orange Hall. In 1916, also under the guidance of P.S.D. Harding, a four week course began 24th of January in the Orange Hall Club Room, Almonte with a social at the end. In 1917, under the leadership of J.N. Allan, a short course was held in McDonald’s Corners with about 14 in attendance. The class held a musical performance at the end of the course. In 1918, only 3 people attended the course at the Rosedale township hall.

Each year during the spring season, seeds from new varieties were distributed to students in rural schools and each year a school fair was held where the produce was judged and prizes awarded. I loved this report in the Almonte Gazette, May 14, 1915.

When luxury becomes a necessity. Through the untiring efforts of Mr. Harding: manager of the Ontario Department of Agriculture at Perth to look after the interests of the farmer, who realizes the advantages to be gained through this source, and along with the supplying to the children of sixty schools -with seeds, etc., for a production to b e shown at their annual school fair, has made it necessary to make the purchase, of a Ford car which will enable Mr. Harding to complete this commendable work in- a much- shorter time. Already three school sections have been supplied, Lanark, Bathurst and Drummond and it is anticipated by the beginning of next week that the school fair work will be completed.

In 1921, Profit Competitions focused on the raising of crops or livestock were conducted through Junior Farmer organizations, open to men under 20, under the direction of the Agricultural Representatives. The prize was a two week course in Agriculture at the Ontario Agricultural College, Guelph or the Kemptville Agricultural School. At this time the Junior Farmers groups (Boy’s Clubs?) were locally based – the Ontario ‘umbrella’ organization did not form until the 1940’s. In May 1927 it is announced that T.A. Thompson has donated a cup to be won during the Girls Softball tournament at the Junior Farmer Field Day to be held at Kemptville Agricultural School in June.

The camaraderie that developed during these activities led to the formation of Boys’ Clubs where judging competitions and animal husbandry clubs continued the learning process while fostering a sense of community.



  1. This info was all gleamed from one day? That’s very fast reading

  2. Hi Diane
    An excellent start to this project.

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