By Stephen Dafoe
Sturgeon County – Four Sturgeon County farm families were recognized Aug. 5 with the County’s 100 Year Farm Family Award. The Shaw, Como, Lekochinsky and Gibson families were all recognized for a century of homesteading in Sturgeon County during a special ceremony at the Morinville Seniors’ Rendez-Vous Centre.
The centennial recognition concluded the 2010 Agricultural Service Board Tour, a day-long trip through Sturgeon County which included stops at a state-of-the-art dairy operation, a peek at the Sturgeon County Shelterbelt demo, a look at some alternative forms of crops, a low volume manure/compost spreading demonstration and a visit to First Choice Tree Nursery and Garden Centre.
Sturgeon County Councillor Tom Flynn said it was encouraging to see the new things growing in the County and the number of young people that are getting actively involved with agriculture and bringing new ideas forward.
But while the County residents who took this years tour got a look at the future of farming in Sturgeon County, they also got to pay tribute to the families who have been working the land for a century or more.
Councillor Flynn said that John and Elizabeth Shaw began homesteading in 1903 and the land has been farmed continuously since that time. The original landowner’s great grandson took over the quarter section 20 years ago and continues to run a cow and calf operation on it.
Next to be honoured was the Como family, who have been farming land settled by their ancestor in Riviere Qui Barre in 1908. By while those gathered to honour the Como family may have been singing the family’s praises, Raymond Como decided to sing a little something back with an impromptu rendition of Rock-a-bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody, a performance that earned him a standing ovation.
The Lekochinsky family, who were unable to make the presentation, began homesteading in the Radway area in 1909. The land is still being used by descendents of the original homesteaders to raise cows, pigs and chickens.
The final family to be recognized was the Gibson family. Councillor Flynn said John Gibson began breaking a half section of land in 1894, before bringing his wife Maude to live with him in 1900.
“Today, their daughter-in-law Gladys still lives on the home site and two of her children make their homes on the original farm,” Flynn explained.
In addition to the 100 Year Awards, the County also recognized residents who improved their properties, presenting Sturgeon County’s annual Farmstead and Acreage Beautification Awards.
This year’s recipient of the Farmstead Beautification Award was Ernest and Shirley Comeau. There were two runners up in the category: Jacob and Jantje Middlekamp and Wayne Bokehfohr. Michelle Michalczyk was the winner of the Acreage Beautification Award, with Gordon and Evelyn Carson being this year’s runners up.
Although pleased with the two bus loads of people who took this year’s tour, Councillor Flynn said Sturgeon County wants to build the annual event back to the days when it was not uncommon to have six bus loads travelling the County’s roads.
“It’s a wonderful adventure and a great way for us to learn the secrets that are hiding in our county,” Flynn said.
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100 Year Farm Family Recipient Raymond Como sings for the crowd.