The ‘dying art’ of plowing
BY TARA MACDONALD
Staff Competitors from across Ontario and Québec turned up at the annual Glengarry County Plowing Match at Charlottengro Farms near Williamstown.
“You’ve got to stand back and look at the whole thing,” advised Ross MacGillivray, judge and President of the Glengarry Plowmen’s Association. “It’s either you like it or you don’t. You want to see a nice level plot with a clear finish and you don’t want the crown to be too high or see much growing.”
Mr. MacGillivray began competing when he was a boy.
“I learned from my father,” he said. “You’ve got to pay attention and know what you’re doing. You can’t just go out and drive a tractor. You’ve got to practise, practise, practise.”
“It’s an art to plow,” added Doug Sturgess, Director of the Ontario Plowmen’s Association. ”You have to understand it to appreciate the artwork that the men and women do.”
“It’s got less and less every year; there’s no young people seem to have any interest because it’s all big business with chisel plows,” lamented organizer Henry Kinloch. “It’s not an art of today, it’s a dying art. There’s not too many; now and again we get a family that has interest and they come to it.”
“It was our fathers who taught us but not a lot of young people are coming into farming and with the new technology a lot of farmers don’t know how to set a plow anymore,” agreed North Lancaster farmer and competitor Rob McDonald. “It’s a dying art. For instance at home it’s all no-till. We haven’t plowed for more than 20 years. No-till is cost effective and gets the same results as plowing.”
Many of the die-hard competitors fondly remembered their fathers and grandfathers turning the sod when they were young. “It’s in the blood,” said André Joly, of Hammond. “I love it.” When asked what draws competitors and spectators to the local plowing matches, Mr. Sturgess responded: “Good food, good people, good company and good plowing.”
“I’ve been involved with the association since 2009 and have been all over the province,” he continued. “That’s my holidays and I enjoy it. It’s the people you meet that keep bringing me back. I could go anywhere now and I’d know someone.”
“I’ve gone so often now it’s a nice holiday and good to see everyone,” agreed local competitor Ian Vallance who has been competing since 1984. “I look at it as a working-vacation,” chipped in Rob McDonald of North Lancaster. “I’ve met many new people over the years that come and go but there is a handful that have been in it as long as I have. We are all friends and keep in touch with each other throughout the year.”
Tractor two furrow open, 1st Barb Maitland, Jasper, 2nd Allison Dangerfield, Mountain; Horse walking, 1st Samuel Bourgon, StIsidore, 2nd Aurel L’Heureux, Ferme-Neuve; Antique trailer plows, 1st Jean-Marc Dessaint, Sarsfield, 2nd Michel Calande, Alfred; Advanced two furrow mounted, 1st Allen Hills, Ashton, 2nd Chris Allen, Vankleek Hill; Advanced three furrow mounted, 1st Ian Vallance, Dalleith, 2nd Rob McDonald, North Lancaster; Antique tractor with hydraulic plows, 1st Nicole Calande, Alfred.