Canadian Genealogy |Ontario Genealogy | Victoria County | Agricultural Transformation

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Agriculture Benefits from Science, Victoria County, Ontario Canada

Scientific investigation has been little less important than improved transportation in its effects. Agriculture was long an art but is now rapidly becoming a science. Botanists produce and test new and better varieties of plants (such as the O. A. C. No. 72 oats, No. 21 barley, and No. 104 winter wheat) and study the control of rusts, rots, moulds, mildews, and other parasitic forms of plant life. Entomologists have saved hundreds of millions of dollars to this continent in the last half century by their intelligent fight against insect pests. Chemists, commencing with Sir Humphrey Davy and Liebig, have analyzed the soil and laid down the chemical prerequisites of successful agriculture. In 1874 the Ontario Government established an Agricultural College and Experimental Farm at Guelph. Since then many hundreds of enterprising young men have studied there and have returned to uplift the standards of farm efficiency in the community of their upbringing. For many years Victoria County, like all other counties in Southern Ontario, has had an Agricultural Representative stationed in it to study local problems and to give expert advice. Many farmers, however, still fail to realize the urgency of the rules laid down by scientific agriculture and have yet to put their farms on an efficient basis.

Two of the most important points on which stress can be laid today are:

(1) the adaptation of crops to soil and
(2) the maintenance of soil fertility by an intelligent rotation of crops, definitely planned out, and by the generous use of fertilizers. The former question has already been touched on in the discussion of recent crops.

When all due allowance is made for the vagaries of seasons, it remains overwhelmingly evident' that many farms in this County are being mined, not farmed, and that the fertility of the land is being steadily depleted without any thought of the future.

Another tenet of scientific agriculture is the establishment of thoroughbred strains of stock. Three organizations in this county, the Hereford Association, the Holstein Association, and the, Victoria County Pure Bred Stock Association are seeking to promote the establishment of thoroughbred flocks and herds, but are meeting with considerable hostility from those who have muddled notions of economy or who are jealous of their own personal right to keep mongrel stock.

The first deliberate attempt to develop thoroughbred stock in Victoria was made in 1880 by the late Mossom M. Boyd, of Bobcaygeon. His aim was to establish a cattle breeding station by which ultimately to revolutionize the herds of the district. With this end in view he visited the principal stock farms of Ontario and bought several pedigreed Herefords and Durhams. In 1881 he began to assemble his famous herd of Aberdeen-Angus cattle. Among his most successful animals were the cows Etaine of Aberlour (8203) and Wanton (4610) and the bulls Chivalry (1765) and King of Trumps (2805) King of Trumps was many times first in Ontario at the Provincial Exhibitions. He was killed on May 20, 1887, by a fall in the course of a battle with Chivalry on board the barge Paloma, on Pigeon Lake.

In 1881 also, the late John Campbell of North Mariposa began to build up a flock of thoroughbred Shropshire Sheep. His ewes "Nancy" and "Topsy," his ram "Gold Medal," ,and many other animals, won countless prizes, sweeping their class even in international expositions. In 1884 Mr. Campbell also won the gold medal then awarded annually for the best cultivated and administered farm in Ontario.

The late George Laidlaw of the "Fort Ranch," Balsam Lake, was a pioneer in the establishment of ranching on a large scale in the waste places of North Victoria.

It is well to remember that to a Victoria County man, the late Mossom M. Boyd, of Bobcaygeon, belongs the sole credit for the creation of a new animal, the "cattalo." Mr. Boyd first secured ordinary hybrids by crossing buffaloes with domestic cattle. He then mated the hybrids among themselves and produced a new stable type which he termed the "cattalo." The aim was to secure animals of a good beef type which would also have sufficient ruggedness and rustling qualities to winter in regions, such as the northern part of the prairie provinces, where the need of winter shelters and of large quantities of stored feed makes the breeding of ordinary cattle impracticable.

The cattalo fulfils these requirements splendidly. Its hide is almost as warm and thick as that of the buffalo. It is hardy and not susceptible to disease. In winter it grazes through the snow. It needs no winter shelter. It faces storms and does not drift with the storm, as do ordinary cattle. On Mr. Boyd's death in 1915 the Dominion Department of Agriculture purchased from his estate twenty head of hybrids and cattaloes and placed them, first on the experimental farm at Scott, Saskatchewan, and later on at Wainwright. Time is only vindicating the skilful enterprise of their Victoria County creator.

Among the many Victoria County farmers who are today maintaining thoroughbred stock may be mentioned the following: G. C. Channon, Oakwood, Aberdeen-Angus cattle; James Callaghan, Reaboro, Holstein cattle; W. J. McNevin, Ops, Ayrshire cattle; A. Jamieson, Woodville, Shorthorn cattle and Shropshire sheep; J. R. Kelsey, Woodville, Shropshire sheep; John Cullis, Oakwood, Leicester sheep; A. E. Whetter, Oakwood, Clydesdale horses; J. Currie, Woodville, Yorkshire swine.

Agricultural Transformation

Victoria County

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