The late Jerry Tiffin Ferguson (1892-1978) was a champion plowmen, shorthorn cattle breeder, and one of the first in the area to own a flock of Barred Rock laying hens.
Aug. 25, 1892 in Cumberland, England, Jerry came to Canada at the age of 18 and stayed for a short time with his brother’s in-laws in the Ridgetown area.
Shortly after his arrival in Canada, he started working
on a farm, his wages being $40 a year plus board.
According to family lore, after his first year on the job he had $39.50 in the bank.
His brother had secured a position
managing a farm on the 11th Concession of Dawn Township for the Farm International Corporation and asked Jerry to come and work for him at this location.
As fate would have it, just around the corner
was the love of his life, Mary Evelyn (Effie) Ward.
The two were married on Jan. 12, 1921 and took up residence at Lot 33, Concession 11 Dawn Township where they started their family.
About 1932, in the midst of the Great Depression, they moved down the road to Lot 29 with their three sons.
At the new location, they had one more child completing their family of four boys: Lyle, Allen,
Donald and Ross.
Jerry farmed the property at Lot 28, Concession 11 and in the late 1950s bought another 100 acres across the road, giving him a 150-acre farming operation.
Jerry had an affinity for Shorthorn cattle, possibly because they originated in his homeland of North Eastern England but more likely as a result of the great knowledge he gained of the breed from researching the many books he had on the subject in
his extensive home library.
He became highly regarded by his peers for his knowledge of the Shorthorn breed and for many years operated a cow-calf herd, paying close attention to their breeding in order to keep
their bloodlines pure.
He was often consulted by other farmers on blood lines and always seemed to know where there was a good Shorthorn bull for sale.
He also kept a
small herd of Yorkshire sows, a breed that also originated in England and introduced to Canada in the 1940s, proving to be the right class of pig for the Canadian market at that time.
He also dabbled in the poultry
market and his flock of Barred Rock hens supplied eggs for the Lambton Kent Creamery, which had locations in both Wallaceburg and Petrolia.
Jerry Ferguson was always willing to share his knowledge of raising livestock
and was often called upon for his expertise in the care and doctoring of animals.
It was often said that a veterinarian was seldom seen, if ever, at the Ferguson farm.
Plowed at the IPM
Jerry Ferguson was best known for his plowing abilities.
plowed with a tractor and two-furrow plow in competitions all over Ontario and Michigan.
His plow was a customized Massey Harris 26 and was used for competitions only.
1959 he purchased a new model 22 Massey Harris tractor and with the help of his son Lyle, a trailer was built that allowed him to take both the tractor and plow to the various competitions he attended each year.
Ferguson family have since donated that tractor and plow to the Lambton Heritage Museum where it remains on display.
Bill Bilton, secretary of the Lambton County Plowmen’s Association, noted that in
1956 Jerry was made an honorary member of the local plowmen’s organization and also served as Lambton’s representative on the Ontario Plowmen’s Association in the years 1965 to 1967.
He was also
called upon several times to serve as a judge at the International Plowing Match as well.
Bilton noted that Ferguson competed at the International Plowing Match for many years and brought honours back to Lambton
County on numerous occasions.
He recalled that back then good plowing was given more importance than it is today and Ferguson used the same skills when he plowed at home.
can remember my father stopping at the Ferguson farm to show me what good plowing looked like,” he said.
Jerry Ferguson was also a prominent member of Alexandra Masonic Lodge in Oil Springs where he served
as Worshipful Master in 1944 and was elected District Deputy Grand Master of the Sarnia District in 1954-55.
he was presented with a pin in recognition
of his 50-years of service to that organization.
Ferguson continued to play an active role in Lambton County’s agricultural community until the age of 85 when he retired to live in Exeter with his son Ross.
He will be inducted into the Lambton County Agricultural Hall of Fame on Nov. 14, 2014.