Sunday, September 24, 2023

The beginning of farming with Chris Judd

Farming expert, Chris Judd, presenting
to the approximately 30 attendees.

Connor Lalande
Shawville April 19, 2023
The Pontiac Archives hosted an informal presentation on the region’s agricultural roots at the Shawville Community Lodge this past Wednesday. Moderated by farming expert Chris Judd, the presentation covered topics relating to the inception and development of agriculture within the Pontiac region. The event attracted approximately 30 attendees.
The event began with Judd providing a succinct overview of early farming practices within the Pontiac. Employing his characteristic quick-wit, Judd regaled the audience with anecdotes concerning early agriculture within the region.
Judd recalled the story of how, in 1827, Joseph Brownlee’s serendipitous experience with his ox led to him picking the site of his eventual farm. Walking through the dense bush to his newly granted land, Judd explained, Brownlee tired and unloaded his ox so they could both rest. After falling asleep, Brownlee later awoke to his ox having disappeared.
“He woke up and the bull was gone,” said Judd. “He spent half the next day tracking the bull and finally found it drinking out of a spring. He was so thirsty that he took a big drink of water. The water was nice, cold and fresh. And so he said, ‘if the bull picked out this spring, that’s the place to be’.”
After the experience, Judd explained, Brownlee traded in the land he was originally granted for the one where the spring resided.
Aside from the human side of early agriculture within the region, Judd spoke about the crops and animals early farmers within the Pontiac were most likely to utilize. Often poor with little extra income, Judd explained how farmers applied their own ingenuity and industriousness to eke out a living amongst the harsh elements of the early Pontiac. An example of this can be seen in their use of cows.
“The early cows were all multi-purpose,” said Judd. “They would milk them to provide dairy for the house, use the bulls to pull plows because they couldn’t afford horses and kill them and eat them once they got too old.”
The second half of the presentation was more informal, with attendees being given an opportunity to ask questions relating to the subject matter. One attendee asked how early farmers, with limited technologies and arduous workloads, were able to complete all they needed to.
Judd stressed how community cooperation was crucial for everyone’s survival.
“Back in those days, everybody worked together,” said Judd. “Amongst them there was a lot more give and take, because if they didnt work together they wouldn’t survive.”
Judd’s presentation concluded with him reflecting thoughtfully on the degree in which life has changed within the Pontiac since the days of European settlement. Equal parts concerned and hopeful for the future of the region, Judd encouraged everyone to look into their family’s history and learn more about those who came before them.
“If you haven’t researched your ancestors, I highly suggest you do,” said Judd.


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