QFA History

The Quebec Farmers’ Association has a very rich history filled with a wonderful group of dedicated members. The QFA is not only about hard work and farming. It has also been about coming together to enjoy life as a community and as friends.

In 1982 a book was commissioned by the organization to tell the fascinating story of the first 25 years since inception in 1957. You can review this by clicking here.

Below you will find two historical texts submitted by long standing members of the QFA family, Lavina French and Lydia May.

Early QFA memories from Lavina French

In the 1940’s and 1950’s the counties of the Eastern Townships had a study group called the Farm Forum. They met on Monday evening at someone’s house, listened to a half hour radio broadcast on rural problems, sometimes had special speakers, followed by a discussion, then the playing of cards or other social activities, and always ending with a good lunch. There was always a good turn out, and problems were discussed at length.

Our annual meetings were generally held with the Catholic Farmers’ Union (UCC). They rented and extra room for the Protestant Farmers as we were studying the same issues as they were.

I was voted to go to the Farm Radio Forum to tell other Protestant farmers of a new idea Compton County farmers had been studying. So, in 1955, I left the hired man to do the chores, at his insistence, sent the children to my parents’ house, met our provincial president Walter Hodgeman, and one of our local Farm Forum members, Reggie Hodge, and off to Montreal we went.

We met at one of Montreal’s leading hotels and spent the first day dealing with the business at hand. The next morning new business was on the agenda. It was time for me to present the idea of a new organization, which would grant us membership in the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA). I remember sharing a noontime dinner with Douglas McKinnon. After a busy meeting we returned home.

The new ideas were taken to Forums across Quebec and a year later we formed a new organization which was later called the Quebec Farmers’ Association (QFA). Together QFA and the UCC had enough members to qualify for a voting membership in the CFA.

My husband, Gordon French, submitted the original design for what is now the familiar QFA logo featuring a walking plow and furrows silhouettes against a rising sun.

Submitted by Lavina French of Sawyerville, Quebec
December 2, 2005

Quebec Farmers’ Advocate, Ayer’s Cliff Branch

Once upon a time… back in the early 1950s there was an active organization in rural Quebec communities called radio Quebec Radio Farm Forum Association.

World War II was over, population was increasing and people needed to eat. This mainly English-speaking farming group throughout the province supplied important information by radio to those of us in the agricultural sector. For farmers, it was the only source of information and experience and a connection with each other. In those days, farming families knew little of television, chips, satellite dishes or computers — they did know about, and most had radio — Quebec Radio Farm Forum Association was invaluable.

This forerunner of QFA was connecting and assisting farmers with such things as feeding nutritionally, raising crops efficiently, and treating animals with disease, etc.

Farmers (at least in our area) would meet in kitchens on a Monday night to listen to the farm broadcast. Discussions took place and agricultural experiences were shared. Soon, the Quebec Farmers’ Association was as vital to farmers as Farm Forum had been.
Food production, working efficiently, business acumen, and cleanliness were/are important to us. My mother used to say to me as a child, “you are what you eat!”

From helping to make executive decisions to slinging burgers and fast-food at the Ayer’ Cliff agricultural exhibition to helping organize provincial phone-ins – all part of belonging to QFA.

Mayholm Farm has been a part of the social aspect of Ayer’s Cliff QFA annually when a picnic meeting would held in July. The farm has been in Wilson May’s family for the last hundred years. In 1903, the original farm was purchased by Wilbur May and his wife Mildred Martin May when they first married. The farm is on the north side of Baraston Mountain and Pinnacle and Lake (Lester) Lyster. No two people were more dedicated to their piece of land, “working fingers to the bone” was not just a saying. Wilbur had dairy cows, pigs, horses and chickens, all frequently needing veterinary care as well as making sugar and cutting lumber on the farm. He found time to train in the army at St-Jean Barracks in 1914 during the First World War. Mildred upheld her responsibilities with home-making, churning butter and selling it along with other farm produce.

Wilbur and Mildred kept abreast of farm news in the 1900s by subscribing to the Winnipeg Free Press and the Ottawa Farmers’ Advocate; issues of which can be found in their house today. They, and the second generation, are passed away and gone to their rest. The third and fourth generations are not actively farming.

The “hip-roof” barn that was once so full of animals was enlarged and rebuilt in 1923. Even it has gone top history, with memories of by-gone days through photos and reminiscing.

We have hosted numerous picnic meetings at Mayholm Farm in July. Sometimes more than 60 members, farmers, would-be farmers, and retired farmers attended this function at 1620 Chemin May, Coaticook, Quebec.

My guess is that the next two generations of family will not see the old Mayholm Farm involved in any farming, as we know the business today.

Lydia May
September 9, 2005