The Werts: Pil­lars of the com­mu­nity

The Glengarry News - Glengarry Supplement - - News -

The Wert fam­ily of Avon­more is fea­tured in a Dairy Farm­ers of Canada book­let cel­e­brat­ing the dairy in­dus­try’s roots. loss. Dur­ing the First World War, Hat­tie Wert helped feed many of the young men from the area be­fore they left for ba­sic train­ing. Dur­ing the De­pres­sion, Hat­tie found her­self once again pro­vid­ing meals to men rid­ing the rails in search of work. The un­writ­ten rules were that the farm would pro­vide a meal at night and the men could sleep in the barn but in the morn­ing, they had to move on.

The Se­cond World War brought labour short­ages to farms when most men went over­seas to fight, so Hat­tie’s 16year-old son, Se­sel, trav­elled out West to help bring in the har­vest.

Through two wars and the Great De­pres­sion, the farm sus­tained both the Wert fam­ily and mem­bers of the com­mu­nity. “I can re­mem­ber my mother talk­ing about sell­ing eggs for eight cents a dozen and we al­ways had eggs to eat. Su­gar and but­ter were ra­tioned be­cause we were send­ing them to Bri­tain,” says Mavis.

In the Fall of 1953, the com­mu­nity of Avon­more ral­lied around the Werts when dis­as­ter struck their farm. Se­sel and Mavis had just been mar­ried and taken over the farm when an elec­tri­cal fire de­stroyed the barn and, with it, all the feed nec­es­sary to sus­tain their live­stock over the win­ter. “We didn’t have much money so we were try­ing to de­cide what to do be­cause my hus­band could have got­ten lots of good jobs,” ex­plains Mavis.

They were weigh­ing their op- tions when vol­un­teers from the vil­lage of­fered to help milk their cows in the morn­ings and af­ter­noons. One even­ing their neigh­bours came by.

“They had al­ready col­lected money and hay and every­body of­fered to help, so we re­ally had no choice,” re­calls Mavis.

“The neigh­bours de­cided for us.”

With the help of the en­tire com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing the town’s min­is­ter, the barn was re­built and the farm saved for an­other gen­er­a­tion.

“We may not be sit­ting here to­day if it had not been for those neigh­bours!” says Nancy Wert.

A sta­ble life

The im­ple­men­ta­tion of sup­ply man­age­ment ush­ered in an era of eco­nomic sta­bil­ity pre­vi­ously un­known to Cana­dian farm­ers. This sta­bil­ity has al­lowed dairy

RE­SILIENT: Mavis, Nancy, Jim and Ryan Wert epit­o­mize the re­siliency that is a hall­mark of the farm­ing com­mu­nity.

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