Essex County Agricultural Hall of Fame welcomes two inductees

Filed under: Headline,In Our Community |

by Adam Gault

The Essex County Agricultural Hall of Fame inducted two long-time contributors during its annual Hall of Fame ceremony at the Harrow & Colchester South Agricultural Building on Thursday, April 5.

The Agricultural Hall of Fame recognizes the lifetime achievements of farmers who have gone above and beyond to contribute to the development of agriculture in Essex County. The class of 2018 included Charles Desmarais of Stoney Point, sponsored by the Town of Lakeshore, and Terry Wright of Harrow, sponsored by the Town of Essex.

Charles Desmarais was born in 1946 and grew up on a mixed farm in the former township of Tilbury North. Charles has had two very successful careers, first in agricultural retail when he served the La Cooperative de Pointe aux Roches as their General Manager for 32 years. He provided supplies and services to the agricultural sector, as well as the management of the full-service grain handling and grain marketing facilities at numerous locations owned by the cooperative. His second career has been his lifelong attachment to the family farm, to which he has committed to working fulltime for the last 12 years as a cash crop farmer.

With Desmarais’s leadership, the re-positioning of the Agricultural Co-operative enterprises in Essex County were championed, including the organization of a county-wide farm petroleum enterprise. This opportunity included the United Co-operatives of Ontario local branches and the Harrow Farmers Co-op onto one balance sheet. It further offered one management umbrella and one board of directors, all operated from Pointe aux Roches.

Desmarais also served his community as a Eucharistic Minister at the former Parish of l’Annonciation and served his parish as the Parish Council Chairperson. He is an honorary member of the Knights of Columbus Council 8783.

“When you’re able to succeed in something, it’s because you’re surrounded with people who have the same passion that you have,” Desmarais said upon receiving the award, thanking his parents, wife, and family for their support throughout his many years in the business.

Terry Wright was born in 1939 and grew up in the Harrow area. A graduate of the Ridgetown Agricultural College in 1960, Terry has farmed for over 50 years, growing processing tomatoes, seed corn, and a variety of different kinds of fresh-market vegetables and fruit. Currently, his two youngest sons, Rodney and Greg, farm with him. Rodney has responsibility for the greenhouse operation and Greg for the field crops and apples.

Wright was a Past Chairperson of the Essex County Associated Growers as well as a past Director and Vice Chair of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association. He has served also as a Director of the Canadian Horticultural Council. A founding member of the local Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, at the County and Provincial levels, he served from 1984-88 as a Director with the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers Marketing Board as well as a past Board member and Vice-Chairperson of the Seed Corn Growers of Ontario from 1988-98.

A long-time member of Harrow United Church, Wright is also a founding member of the Essex Region Goodfellows and has served with them since 2005. He also served as a Councillor for the Colchester South Township for 14 years and was the Warden of the County of Essex in 1980.

Many organizations have recognized Wright. In 1976, he received the Award of Merit from the Essex County Associated Growers. In 1992, he received the Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada in recognition of significant contribution to community and Canada. He also received a Conservation Award for the Essex Conservation Association for planting grass strips next to municipal drains.

“We are so pleased to see so many friends here tonight, that have worked with dad both locally and from afar,” one of Wright’s sons said, speaking on his behalf. “We appreciate all of you being with us for this special event tonight.”

The recipients also received certificates from MP Tracey Ramsey and MPP Taras Natyshak, to further recognize Desmarais and Wright for their powerful contributions to Essex County farming.