Canada’s earliest dairy farmers left behind all they had ever known to pursue a new life in a vast and often harsh new world. In most cases, the decision to immigrate meant they would never again see their families or take comfort in familiar surroundings. Some had left farms in their countries of origin; others had never farmed before they purchased land and livestock in the New World. However, the basic survival instinct was common to all. These small homesteads sustained their families and fed their communities throughout two world wars, the Spanish Influenza, and the Great Depression.
Today, there are 11,280 dairy farms located in each province across the country. Dairy farms were never established in Canada’s territories due to colder temperatures.
Some of Canada’s dairy farms in operation today were founded long before Confederation. These heritage farms, along with their family traditions and knowledge of the land, have been passed down through generations of descendants for over 150 years.
Throughout the turbulence of the 20th century, four generations of the Wert family have provided succor to the village of Avonmore.
Although the Werts’ farm is older than Canada itself, the forces of history that shaped the nation also shaped the family’s own heritage.
In 1864, Roderick McLennan purchased a 100-acre parcel of land that would become Stanlee Farms. Roderick passed the farm down to his daughter Hattie and her husband Stanley Wert. Their son Sesel and his wife Mavis bought the farm in 1953, and passed it on to Jim and Nancy Wert, the current owners. Jim and Nancy have four sons, Nick, Patrick, Chris, and Ryan. Ryan currently works full-time on the farm.
The fortunes of the Wert family and Avonmore were intertwined through two world wars, the Great Depression, and personal