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Recognizing an agricultural pillar

CHRIS LOWERY
PONTIAC April 29, 2020
When Pontiac resident Melissa Nyveld saw that agricultural organization, Holstein Canada, put out a call to recognize agricultural mentors, She knew exactly who to write about – Winnifred Pirie.
Pirie is a mainstay on the agricultural scene in the Pontiac, and if you’re in the business, odds are you know Pirie.
Now just past her 80th birthday, Pirie still helps out the next generation running things at Elmside View Farm.
“There aren’t many people in the world like her,” Nyveld said. “She’s someone you want to aspire to be.”
In her submission to Holstein Canada, Nyveld remembered tender moments she shared with Pirie during times of loss and joy.
“Winnie is a pillar in the community,” Nyveld wrote in her submission. “In times of crisis, she’s one of the first to send food. When there’s a party, she’s one of the last to leave.”
Nyveld’s submission was shared by the Shawville Fair social media account and several local people chimed in with their memories of working with Winnie.
But many who come in to contact with Pirie are left with one question: How do you do it all?
So when someone asked Pirie what her secret was to having such vitality into her eighth decade, she was typically light-hearted.
“Well her answer was ‘I just put one foot in front of the other and keep going,’” Nyveld said.
“So, she just has such a good but simple attitude to life,” Nyveld said. “You don’t have to make it complicated.”
Not only does Nyveld consider Pirie a pillar in the agricultural community in the Pontiac, but she serves as a sort of matriarch for women in farming locally.
“There’s not a lot of women in farming, but there are a lot of women in farming around here,” Nyveld said. “And maybe that’s why: Because there are a lot of really good female mentors around here.”
As a testament to Pirie’s can-do attitude, Nyveld recounted this past Shawville Fair where Pirie – five months removed from a hip replacement surgery – said she felt bad that she couldn’t help more, but vowed she’d be back with a vengeance the following year.
It’s this kind of attitude that inspired Nyveld to write the homage to Pirie in the first place.
“When you see something nice about a person, you should say it out loud,” Nyveld said. “I don’t think we say things out loud enough.”
She said it’s the least she could do for Pirie, who’s been there for her through so much.
“She’s just one of the kindest people I know,” Nyveld said.

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