The Quebec Farmers’ Association has a very rich history and a wonderful group of dedicated members. The QFA is not only about hard work and farming. It has also been about coming together to enjoy life as a community and as friends.
In 1982, a book was commissioned by the organization to tell the fascinating story of the first 25 years since its inception in 1957. You can review this here.
Below you will find two historical texts submitted by long-standing members of the QFA family, Lavina French and Lydia May.
Early QFA memories from Lavina French
In the 1940s and 1950s the counties of the Eastern Townships had a study group called the Farm Radio Forum. They met on Monday evening at someone’s house, listened to a half-hour radio broadcast on rural problems, and sometimes had special speakers. This was followed by a discussion, then the playing of cards or other social activities. It always ended with a good meal. There was always a good turnout, and problems were discussed at length.
Our annual meetings were generally held with the Catholic Farmers’ Union (UCC). They rented an extra room for the Protestant Farmers as we were studying the same issues as they were.
I was voted to go to the Farm Radio Forum to tell other Protestant farmers of a new idea Compton County farmers had been studying. So, in 1955, I left the hired man to do the chores (at his insistence), sent the children to my parents’ house, met our provincial president (Walter Hodgeman) and one of our local Farm Radio Forum members (Reggie Hodge)—and off to Montreal we went.
We met at one of Montreal’s leading hotels and spent the first day dealing with the business at hand. The next morning new business was on the agenda. It was time for me to present the idea of a new organization, which would grant us membership in the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA). I remember sharing a noontime dinner with Douglas McKinnon. After a busy meeting we returned home.
The new ideas were taken to Forums across Quebec, and a year later we formed a new organization which was later called the Quebec Farmers’ Association (QFA). Together, the QFA and the UCC had enough members to qualify for a voting membership in the CFA.
My husband, Gordon French, submitted the original design for what is now the familiar QFA logo featuring a walking plow and furrows silhouetted against a rising sun.
Submitted by Lavina French of Sawyerville, Quebec
December 2, 2005
Quebec Farmers’ Advocate, Ayer’s Cliff Branch
Once upon a time, back in the early 1950s, there was an active organization in rural Quebec communities called the Quebec Farm Radio Forum.
The Second World War was over, the population was increasing, and people needed to eat. This mainly English-speaking farming group throughout the province supplied important information by radio to those of us in the agricultural sector. For farmers, it was the only source of information and experience and connection with each other. In those days, farming families knew little of television, microchips, satellite dishes, or computers. They did know about, and most had, radio—therefore the Quebec Radio Farm Forum was invaluable.
This forerunner of QFA was connecting and assisting farmers with such things as feeding nutritionally, raising crops efficiently, treating animals with disease, and so on.
Farmers (at least in our area) would meet in kitchens on a Monday night to listen to the farm broadcast. Discussions took place and agricultural experiences were shared. Soon, the Quebec Farmers’ Association was as vital to farmers as the Forum had been.
Food production, working efficiently, business acumen, and cleanliness were and are important to us. My mother used to say to me as a child, “You are what you eat!”
From helping make executive decisions to slinging burgers and fast food at the Ayer’s Cliff agricultural exhibition to helping organize provincial phone-ins—all were part of belonging to the QFA.
Mayholm Farm has been a part of the social aspect of the Ayer’s Cliff QFA, as a picnic meeting would be held each July. The farm has been in Wilson May’s family for the last hundred years. In 1903, the original farm was purchased by Wilbur May and his wife Mildred Martin May when they first married. The farm is on the north side of Baraston Mountain and The Pinnacle and Lake Lyster (Lester). No two people were more dedicated to their piece of land: “working fingers to the bone” was not just a saying. Wilbur had dairy cows, pigs, horses, and chickens, all frequently needing veterinary care. He also made sugar and cut lumber on the farm. He found time to train in the army at Saint-Jean Barracks in 1914 during the First World War. Mildred upheld her responsibilities with homemaking, churning butter, and selling it along with other farm produce.
Wilbur and Mildred kept abreast of farm news in the 1900s by subscribing to the Winnipeg Free Press and the Ottawa Farmers’ Advocate, issues of which can be found in their house today. They, and the second generation, are passed away and gone to their rest. The third and fourth generations are not actively farming.
The “hip-roof” barn that was once so full of animals was enlarged and rebuilt in 1923. Even it has gone to history, with memories of bygone days through photos and reminiscing.
We have hosted numerous picnic meetings at Mayholm Farm in July. Sometimes more than 60 members, farmers, would-be farmers, and retired farmers attended this function at 1620 Chemin May, Coaticook, Quebec.
My guess is that the next two generations of family will not see the old Mayholm Farm involved in any farming, as we know the business today.
September 9, 2005