A rich family history told in farming

By  | April 24, 2013 | 0 Comments | Filed under: Golden Years
Kenneth Hood from his home at Queen’s Square Terrace.

Kenneth Hood from his home at Queen’s Square Terrace.

Eleven miles east of here stands a farm ­– family owned and operated for nearly 125 years. Through World Wars, the Great Depression, fires, and family losses, the 100 acres still stands firm, as does Kenneth Hood, one of the four generations who made a living and raised a family on its soil.

“I can’t see myself doing anything except farming,” says Kenneth from his home at Queen’s Square Terrace in Cambridge. “I kept my head to the ground and worked hard. I loved to do that.”

Now living away from his beloved land, he takes comfort knowing that it has passed onto good hands; his daughter’s hands. The field still yields crops of hay for a local dairy farmer, but “…unless you count racoons and skunks…” the barn is empty of livestock.

For many years, including the war years, beef cows, calves and pigs filled the barn built by Kenneth’s grandfather.

Those pigs helped the war effort. Yes… pigs.

Back in 1889, Peter Hood, Kenneth’s grandfather, flew the coop to get away from the large, boisterous family farm near Flamborough to make his own, quiet way in the world. He bought these 100 acres in what was once called Beverley Township, near Valens; now part of Hamilton. Here, he and his wife, Hanna, raised 10 children.

“They all averaged over 200 pounds apiece!” Kenneth recounts. “They were great farm hands.”

Kenneth’s father, Stanley, left that boisterous household and wound his way to Winnipeg via the Canadian Pacific Railway. After 20 years of farming in Manitoba, he returned to the family homestead and married his sweetheart from school.

Three years later, the Great Depression was felt throughout the United States and Canada. The gross national product dropped a whopping 40% between the years 1929 and 1939. Farms all over Canada felt the effects. Men looking for work occasionally took refuge on the farm.

Stanley and May raised three children in the home – Kenneth, Arnold and Florence. May, a vocation guidance teacher for 25 years, taught at the public school her children attended in Valens.

Kenneth was in high school when World War II broke out. Many Canadians did all they could from home to support our soldiers and allied forces.

“Bacon for Britain” originated in Canada and was initiated by the Canadian Swine Breeders Association. Over 3.5 billion pounds of pork, mostly bacon, was shipped overseas between 1940 and 1945.

“They had a push on for Canadian troops waiting to invade Normandy. My Dad did that from the farm,” says Kenneth. “My mother used to say, ‘A hungry man is an angry man. They have to be fed.’”

After the war, Kenneth attended the Rockton Agricultural Short Course where “boys took farming and girls took home economics.” There he met Marion James. “We went through the winter course and I asked her out to a skating party,” Kenneth says with a smile as he shows me a picture of the class of 1947. She accepted his invitation.

She also accepted his marriage proposal. They raised six daughters and a son on the farm. They kept the farm alive and growing for 60 years raising beef cattle and calves; 45 of those years included raising and selling pigs.

“Marion was raised on a dairy farm. Couldn’t tell her much about farming,” Kenneth says with a chuckle. “She was a good critic to have around.”

Fourteen years ago, Marion lost her battle with cancer. When the cancer moved to her lungs, the hospital moved her home to be with her family. Dr. Gowing still made house-calls and helped the family through.

“It was a different time,” says Kenneth also recalling the fire that engulfed their house in 1967. Neighbours came from far and wide to help rebuild. The original barn remained untouched.

His family thrives. Down the road a-piece, Yee Haw Adventure Farm is an agricultural playground for children of all ages. The Reklaws, a country band formed by two of Kenneth’s grandchildren, will debut their single in time for summer 2013.

Now, from his new home, Kenneth misses the routine of the farm. “But, you have to do what you have to do… no getting out of it,” he says. “Sometimes, it’s a long road that has no turn.”

For Kenneth, that long road leads to a farm – ­­­­11 miles east of here.

 

Bacon Bits

  •  …“Bacon for Britain” efforts originated with the Canadian Swine Breeders Association and was further publicized by Harry William Hays, P.C. (1909-1982), a Canadian politician and Minister of Agriculture under Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson.

-Vintagepostcards.org

  •  Canada agreed “…to supply Britain with 4,480,000 lbs. of bacon and ham weekly until the expiration of the agreement on October 31, 1940.”

-Toronto Star, December 5, 1939

  •  ”Bacon for Britain” was one of Canada’s most important contributions to the war effort; altogether from 1940 to 1945, 3.5 billion pounds of pork, mostly bacon, was shipped to Britain, to German-occupied Denmark and to troops in the field. At the same time, the campaign provided better farm incomes on the home front.”

-Vintagepostcards.org

  •  …what are the responsibilities and duties of the Board? As I see it, the first and paramount responsibility is to deliver bacon to Great Britain in the volume required throughout the period of the war…

-Courtesy of the Canadian Swine Breeders Association (archives)

  •  …Early in December the Dominion Government announced it had entered into a contract with the British Ministry of Food to endeavor to supply weekly until October 31, 1940, a minimum of quantity of 4,480,000 lbs. of Canadian bacon and hams. The ministry agreed to accept weekly supplies of 5,600,000 lbs. and as much more as they required at a gross price of $20.18 per 112 lbs. … During the war Canada has the opportunity of being the country that is the chief supplier of good quality bacon…

-Courtesy of the Canadian Swine Breeders Association (archives)

 

Mother Goose

This little pig went to market

weighing two hundred and ten

its bacon was sweet

for Britons to eat

as they wallop Herr Hitler’s men.

This little pig was slaughtered,

too light at one seven five;

sixty platters were bare;

Britons cannot eat air

and fight to keep freedom alive.

An underweight hog is a slacker

he’s not doing all of his bit

to feed those who fight

through day and through night

and must be kept healthy and fit.

-Found in a March 1942 Canadian Swine publication.

No author was credited.

 

Built in 1889, the farm has passed through four generations.

Built in 1889, the farm has passed through four generations.

About 

Shelley Byers has worked in the charitable sector for over 25 years promoting her passion through newsletters, local newspapers and various publications throughout the region. In 2007, she wrote and told stories on behalf of Pride Stables and won the United Way Speakers Award. Currently, she is working on a graphic children’s story with a local artist and hopes to one day give a copy to her mother.

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