The Werts: Pillars of the community
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.