Three individuals were inducted in 2004 – Tommy Thomas, Keith McLean and Steve Walters.
Fletcher Steward (Tommy) Thomas
1897 – 1957
Tommy Thomas was born June 7, 1897 in Streetsville, Ontario in Peel County and attended School in Trafalgar Township and Streetsville High School. In 1915, he entered Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) in Guelph. His education was interrupted with WW1 and enrolled for training at Camp Petawawa, going overseas the summer of 1916. He received an honourable discharge in 1919 and re-entered OAC to graduate in 1922. He became an assistance agricultural representative in Grey County June 1922. In 1923, he moved to Port Arthur as Ag Rep. for Thunderbay District.
He married Myrtle Symes of Fort William, On. in 1927 and moved to St. Thomas in September 1927 to be Ag Rep. for Elgin. Tommy successfully ran for the Progressive Conservative Party in Ontario to represent Elgin from 1945 to 1956 and was Ministry of Agriculture 1953 – 1956. They had 4 children, Patricia, Carolyn, Shirley and Robert.
In 1936, he purchased a farm on Union Road in Southwold, just west of Port Stanley where he grew apples and flue-cured tobacco.
In 1930, he helped organize the first fruit grower’s co-op and Elgin Fruit Growers Co-op was found in 1935
1940 he organized the IPM which was the first IPM to feature County exhibits and livestock displays. It set the pattern for future matches
1940 he conducted the meeting to form Elgin Co-operative Services
He introduced orchard and weed spray services to Elgin and soil survey of Elgin. The soil map has become the basis of all soil and field crop programs
Tommy was the Agricultural Rep. for Elgin County for 18yrs until he resigned to carry the Ontario PC banner to victory in June 1945 and again in 1948 & 1951. He was sworn in as Minister of Public Works and Minister of Agriculture in 1951.
Tommy was a member of the Kiwanis Club in St. Thomas, a member of Trinity Anglican Church, a member of Talbot Lodge A.F. and A.M; the OAC Alumni Assoc.; the Agricultural Institute of Canada and an honorary member of the St. Thomas Golf and County Club.
Tommy organized the first Boy’s Club in Elgin, a potato club sponsored by the St. Thomas Kiwanis Club; He organized the first Elgin Junior Farmers judging competition. He helped to organize the first corn and livestock clubs. He organized the first Elgin County Tobacco Growers’ Assoc. and getting Elgin its first rep. on the Tobacco Marketing Board at Simcoe.
The first Elgin County dairy cattle exhibit was taken to the CNE under Mr. Thomas’ direction.
1921 – 1985
Keith McLean was a life long resident of Southwold township, receiving his early education from Boxall Public School and Fingal Continuation School. He furthered broadened his knowledge through night school classes at Arthur Voaden S. S.and courses at the University of Guelph. Keith, along with his wife Ann Tufford and three children Lyle, Heather and Bonnie, operated McLean Family farm in Boxall
Keith was a very innovative man who became the first farmer int he area to grow see corn. He also had one of the first Polled Hereford herds in the area. Keith was Past President of the Elgin Middlesex Hereford Associatio and a Member of the Elgin Services Co-Operative Board. He was a strong believer in the strength of unity among farmers and a member of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.
Keith’s interest in his community:
Sunday School Superintendent at Fingal United Church 1953 – 1973
member of Southwold Volunteer Fire Department
3 terms on the Pearce Williams Christian Centre Board as well as past Chair
Member of the Elgin District High School Board when Parkside Collegiate Institute was built
member of the Southwold Central School Board when Southwold Elementary School was built
Southwold Township Councillor 1970 – 1974, 1983 – 1985
Deputy Reeve of Southwold 1975 – 1976
Reeve of Southwold 1977 – 1978
served on Kettle Creek Conservation Authority being instrumental in trees planted on water runs near Lake Erie in Southwold,
designed the Southwold Township flag
instrumental in securing a Shedden branch library in the Elgin County System.
Chair of the Southwold Liberal party,
Past Master and Life Member of Warren Lodge, Fingal
player and manager of the Boxall Soft Ball team
Chair of the Fingal Community Centre Board
Chair f the men’s Breakfast for Cancer for 10 years.
R. G. Steve Walters
Steve Walters and his wife, Betty Tapsell, operated a dairy farm offering hay and custom harvesting services to the farmers of Elgin County from his farm on Southdale Road in St. Thomas. The Walters have three children; Bill, Sherry and Sandy. Steve’s interest in the many aspects of rural life are reflected in the success of his dairy program, participation on various boards and his gracious hosting of car and bus tours for school children and fellow farmers. Steve has always been interested in promoting and educating agricultural awareness.
Steve established a successful purebred herd of Holstein cattle with 55 milking cows of which, currently 23 are classified Very Good and two, Excellent. The excellence of his breeding program has resulted in export sales throughout Canada, USA and Mexico. The Walters business offers a custom forage harvesting service for local farmers as well as the buying and selling of hay throughout Southwestern Ontario and USA.
Steve Walters’ active career includes the following credits:
Director and Past President of the Elgin County Holstein Club
Director and Past President of the Elgin County Milk Committee
Counselor for Elgin County Holstein Club to Ontario Branch
Director and Past President of Ontario Branch of Holstein Canada
Director of Ingreen Valley Foods Co-Operative Inc.
Steve’s dedication to promoting agriculture is visible through his work on various boards. His good sense or humour and people skills have made him an accomplished representative of Elgin County farmers. Yet, Steve acknowledges that all these things would not have be possible without the love, support and hard work from his wife Betty and their children.