When dairy royalty reigned in Glengarry
BY SCOTT CARMICHAEL
News Staff It’s been 25 years since Glengarry had a Dairy Princess, but the legacy of the 33 young ladies who wore the tiara between 1957 and 1992 remains strong.
That was evidenced at the Glengarry Agricultural Wall of Fame dinner and induction ceremony at the Metcalfe Centre in Maxville on April 29 when 27 former Glengarry Dairy Princesses were on hand for their collective induction.
Carolyn McRae, an
Agricultural Wall of Fame committee member, pointed out that a number of former local dairy princesses still reside in the county, while many others live in Eastern Ontario.
However, two ladies in particular “travelled great distances,” added Mrs. McRae, to attend the event – Shirley Grant Ritchie, Glengarry Dairy Princess of 1968, who came from New Brunswick, and Jill Pemberton (1984, 1985) who flew in from British Columbia.
Allison Shannon (née Arkinstall), Glengarry Dairy Princess in 1985 and 1986, grew up on her parents’ Holsten farm in Dunvegan, and now resides with her husband, Greg, in Glenburnie (Kingston), where the couple has owned and operated Sun Harvest Greenhouses and Garden Centre for the past 15 years.
During a brief speech, Mrs. Shannon spoke about the fraternal-like bond between the winners, how their respective tenures as dairy princess helped shape their lives, and the invaluable guidance they received from members of the local dairy community.
“I think there are a few things that we have in common,” she said.
“We’re involved in an industry that is so fundamentally important to the fabric of this county and to who we are, but we wouldn’t be as successful as we’ve been if it wasn’t for our connections with people like Helen Thomson, Lorraine Cameron, Sally Buchan and Joan P. MacDonald, who introduced us to our community of dairy farmers, brought us to their farms, made us part of the program and gave us all the support we needed to become better leaders.
“And there’s also the fact that we are all dairy farmers’ daughters, and still proud to say that,” added Mrs. Shannon.
Clara MacLeod, a native of Carievale, Sask. who later moved to North Glengarry with her husband Rod – a local boy who’d gone out West one summer to work in the annual grain harvest and ended up bringing home a Prairie bride – was Glengarry’s first Dairy Princess in 1957.
Besides a newlyenshrined Glengarry Agricultural Wall of Fame member, Mrs. MacLeod was also a 2005 inductee into the Glengarry Celtic Music Hall of Fame.
Meagan Robertson of Bainsville was the last Glengarry Dairy Princess in 1992, the final year of public competition.
Mrs. McRae pointed out Meagan’s victory also marked the end of an era.
“The first Dairy Princess competitions took place in a barn being with no public audience,” she explained.
“For many years, machine milking was an integral part of the competition, accounting for 50 per cent of the score, with the other 50 per cent awarded for the interview and speech...later those accounted for 70 per cent.
“But the role of Dairy Princess transitioned, from farm girl whose win depended a great deal on her ability to milk a cow, to one who demonstrated an ability to promote milk and milk products to the general public. (By 1992) she became an ambassador to the milk industry... a dairy educator.”