The ‘dy­ing art’ of plow­ing

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - News


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.”

Match re­sults

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.

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