Farmer, writer, radical, sage: Re-introducing Peter McArthur

Farmer, writer, radical, sage: Re-introducing Peter McArthur

Thursday 22 February at 2.00pm ET.   Hybrid: zoom or attend The Archives, 178 McKellar St, Glencoe, ON N0L 1M0.  Stephanie McDonald, local gal living in Dublin, Ireland, will re-introduce us to our local writer who was very famous in his day. 

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In 1908, at the age of 42, Peter McArthur returned to his family farm in Ekfrid Township with his wife and five children after living and working in Toronto, New York and London, England. For the next 16 years he wrote weekly columns in The Globe, amusing and enlightening his readers about life on a rural Ontario farm. 

 

October 28, 2024 will mark the centenary of McArthur’s death at the age of 58 following an operation. The man dubbed the “Sage of Ekfrid”, who had the most famous farm in Canada, is now nearly forgotten. With wit and wisdom, McArthur interrogated questions that we’re still asking today – how to bridge the rural/urban divide, how to protect the natural environment, and how to spend our days and live a good life.

 

Stephanie McDonald grew up on a mixed farm in Ekfrid Township. She has worked as a newspaper reporter in the Canadian Arctic, and in communications, policy and administration roles in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Ottawa and now Dublin, Ireland. Stephanie has had articles published in various newspapers and magazines, mostly about farmers, farming, food security and the climate crisis.

 

 

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Farmer, writer, radical: the Sage of Ekfrid

 

 

June 21 Victory Garden Launched in Appin

Wonderful event held at the Appin Park. Forty people enjoyed the new community garden, congratulating the local team who have built the raised beds, set up a watering system, and nurtured the plants. Many thanks to our elected municipal leaders for taking the time to attend.

The highlight of the evening was listening to the stories regaled by Bonnie Sitter and Shirleyan English about the farmerettes, the teenagers that harvested Ontario crops from about 1942 – 1952.

Thank you Bonnie and Shirleyann. You have documented a wonderful part of agricultural history that otherwise would have been lost.

Learn more about the Farmerettes in Ontario:

Bonnie Sitter, “Farmerettes in Ontario” in Harrowsmith. February 2021.

And here’s some links to the buzz created by the release of Onion Skins and Peach Fuzz: Memories of Ontario Farmerettes. (2019). by Shirleyan English and Bonnie Sitter

Bonnie Sitter, “Farmerettes: Get Out on the Farm” in The Rural Voice. June, 2018.

Bonnie Sitter, “Farmerettes in Ontario” in Harrowsmith. 2020.

Bonnie Sitter, “Farmerettes in Ontario” in Harrowsmith. February 2021.

McGill Farm History & the Gunnery School

My name is Andrew McGill, I’m a young farmer and a photographer. I grew up on a farm 6 kilometres north of Glencoe, Ontario. In mid 1940 my great grandfather Fred McGill purchased a farm building which was to be moved from the site of the No. 4 Bombing and Gunnery School at Fingal Ontario. The building was dismantled and moved 45 kilometres north of Fingal to its final resting place on the McGill farm at Taits rd. Glencoe where it has sat to this day. My father and I think the building was then reassembled with a new roof sometime in 1941. The site of No. 4 B&G school sat on a swath of 724 acres of land that was returned to the crown for the purpose of building the training facility. One can imagine the numerous agricultural buildings on the land that would have had to be dismantled and moved in short order to make way for the multiple airplane hangers and triangle runway of the Fingal school. 

Aerial photo of the McGill farm circa 1977. The building in question can be seen directly to the left of the barn. (Photo care of McGill family Archive, 1977.)

McGill farm building moved from Fingal Bombing And Gunnery School site in 1940. (Photo: Andrew McGill. September, 2022.)
Aerial photo of the site of the Fingal Bombing and Gunnery School. (Photo: Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum.)
Route from Fingal B&G school site to the McGill farm. (Photo: Google Maps)
Interior detail of the McGill farm building which continues to house tools and horse equipment which would have been used by the late Fred McGill circa 1940’s. (Photo: Andrew McGill, 2016.)
A restored 1942 Minneapolis Moline “Waterloo” tractor stored in the building on the McGill farms site. (Photo: Andrew McGill, 2022.)
Winifred (Eddie), Fred, and Blake McGill using their 1942 Minneapolis Moline Tractor to plant sugar beets for seed to aid the allied forces war effort. (Photo care of McGill family Archive, 1942.)
Alternate angle of Winifred (Eddie), Fred, and Blake McGill using their 1942 Minneapolis Moline Tractor to plant sugar beets for seed to aid the allied forces war effort. (Photo care of McGill family Archive, 1942.)
Clare McGill and Dorothy Brown in front of the McGill homestead with the 1942 Minneapolis Moline “Waterloo” tractor. (Photo care of McGill family Archive, 1942.)
Clare, Winifred (Eddie), and Blake McGill in front of the McGill homestead to mark the moment King George VI announced enlistment of eligible men into the military in Canada. (Photo care of McGill family Archive, 1941.)

 

Blake McGill standing with his newly restored 1942 Minneapolis Moline tractor on the McGill farm in 1993. (Photo care of McGill family Archive, 1993.)
McGill Farm
Aerial photo of the McGill farm taken the year of its 100th anniversary in 2016. The relocated building can be seen clearly to the left of the barn. (Photo care of McGill family Archive, 2016.)
Dorothy (Knapp), Doug, and Ron McRae in Ilderton Ontario, 1955
Dorothy (Knapp), Doug, and Ron McRae in Ilderton Ontario, 1955. During WWII, as a 13 year old, my grandmother Dorothy along with her schoolmates were tasked with finding a plant called Alder Buckthorn, which because of its consistent burn time was used to create fuses for depth charges used to sink German navy vessels. It is told that Dorothy found enough of the valuable plant for her father to pay off the mortgage of their farm. (Photo care of the McRae family Archive, 1955.)

Canadian Farmer – Eric Simpson

Eric Simpson is an egg farmer on Longwoods Road who farms with his brother, Owen, his mother Vicky , wife Sarah, two boys and a couple of staff. Eric was interested in following the YouTube channels of other farmers and decided his family farm had a story to tell too.
Simpson Poultry Farms makes their own feed, so Eric’s egg farm story starts with the corn and soybeans he grows to feed his chickens. Enjoy the day with Eric.
Check out his channel
Here is baby chick day:

Fresh Air Farmer – Andrew Campbell

Search through your family photos and try to find a record of the family farm, or Mother and kids at work in the garden, or photographs of the farmstead buildings. Nothing. The older the photos, the more we are interested in what we see in the background.  People didn’t have the cameras to document their lives.  Or if they did, they documented their trips to other places, never appreciating the value of documenting their daily work.
 
 
Today, with social media our local farmers are documenting ‘ A Day on Farm’. Check out dairy farmer and key note speaker, Andrew Campbell, and his YouTube Channel. A treasure trove of information about today’s family farm. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYcqz2M9zDDO0B-Ley1itkw
 
 
“I’m Andrew Campbell & we’ve milked cows on our farm for a lot of years. And we’ve done it pretty much the same way since the milking machine came along. But now with new technology on dairies around the world, we’re jumping in with both feet. Follow along as we build a brand new barn with brand new equipment – all in an effort to make the cows as comfortable as possible.”
 
 
Andrew’s Website.     Andrew’s YouTube channel includes other farms he has filmed in the past.
 
 
Andrew, your community is proud of you and your family.   Thanks for sharing the life of the dairy farmer.  It will be interesting to see how long this historical record will last on the Internet.