Feed mill founder lauded for honesty, work ethic
BY ANGELA BROWN
Staff The area has lost a wellrespected businessman, Wilfrid Major, a prominent member of the farming community for 50 years, and whose business once received accolades from a Prime Minister.
Founder of North Lancaster feed mill Wilfrid Major Ltd., Mr. Major died January 26 from advanced Alzheimer’s at the age of 86.
He was passionate about his business all his life and enjoyed going to work even into his late 70s.
“It was his dream to build a business one day and do important things,” said his daughter, Nicole Renaud Léger. “He fulfilled his dream.”
Originally from North Lancaster, Wilfrid Major lived in Montréal working for ShurGain prior to returning to the area in 1959, when he first purchased the mill, a Shur-Gain dealer.
Mr. Major and Thérèse, purchased the mill on Concession Road 5 from his uncle, Donat Major.
With his enterprising talents, Mr. Major worked diligently to expand the business and keep it going for the next 50 years. The Majors were helped by their daughter, and son, Jean, who eventually took over the mill while Wilfrid still maintained part ownership.
On its 50th anniversary in 2009, Wilfrid Major Ltd. was recognized with awards from MP Guy Lauzon as well as thenPrime Minister Stephen Harper.
Brothers Michel and Fernand Hubert and Mario Côté from Québec then purchased the mill the same year, while retaining the company’s well respected name.
Since starting his business, Mr. Major had made many upgrades to the operation, installing a new pellet machine, a computer system and a fullyautomated batching system. He also expanded the mill many times, increased staff and product lines. Later, he began making animal feed at the mill to serve other feed mills in the region.
“He had to invest a lot to make the mill bigger to serve other feed mills,” said Mrs. Renaud Léger.
Mr. Major would often go to work during off-hours to meet customers’ needs.
“He would get up in the middle of the night to deliver fertil- izer and if someone needed feed on a Sunday he would deliver it,” said Mrs. Renaud Léger.
Her father always valued the importance of being honest with his customers, selling only quality products, and being “a man of your word.”
Thérèse Major recalled when she first met Wilfrid at a dance at the Green Valley Pavilion dance hall in 1946 she was especially impressed that even then he would say his plans were to be a successful businessman.
“He always told her that one day he was going to be a very important man, and that fascinated her,” recalled his daughter.
The couple dated for five years before getting married in 1951. “They wanted to be sure they were making the right decision,” remembered Mrs. Renaud Léger.
Thérèse said she appreciated Wilfrid’s dancing skills; the couple went on to take dancing lessons in Valleyfield, Que.
“He had a passion for dancing,” added his daughter. “It was beautiful to see them dance together.”
Mr. Major had a strong work ethic and was a self- taught handyman who enjoyed fixing equipment or doing landscaping, using a little know-how combined with perseverance.
Mr. Major also was a strong family man; he loved spending time with his seven grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
Mr. Major was communityminded, too, and made contributions to The Optimist Club, and youth hockey and sports groups, among others. He also supported his church, St. Margaret of Scotland Parish in Glen Nevis. “He was very involved in the community and helping people who were having a hard time,” said Mrs. Renaud Léger.
She describes her father as a people person who enjoyed seeing friends and snowmobiling.
A good friend, Bruce Munro, had the utmost respect for Mr. Major. He helped Mr. Munro and his wife, Rhona, start their own farm- supply business, Lancaster’s Munro Agromart Ltd., in 1977, even though the new business was a competitor.
“He is responsible for helping us establish our business. No one did more,” said Mr. Munro. “He was a God-fearing, honest man. He would help people do anything.”
Wilfrid Major Ltd. mill’s current general manager, Roxanne Lauzon, echoed Mr. Munro’s sentiments. After working 15 years under Mr. Major’s supervision earlier in her career, she valued him as “the most hardworking man I every met. He represents integrity, honesty and respect.”
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