From The Scrapbook By Rev. Bill Randall

From The Scrap Book

1990 January 26

Royal Winter Fair

Getting ready for the Royal  Winter Fair in Toronto was a busy time for the Harvey Jersey farmers. Selecting the right animals from the herd; getting them in top condition; getting all the support systems ready – it all took weeks of careful preparation.

It was this care and skill that made the Jersey Breeders of Harvey internationally famous. Yes that’s true. No other community in the Eastern part of North America had such outstanding success in both butter for production and class winning show animals.

But getting ready! Feed boxes and feed; tie and show halters; blankets; horn and hoof polish; shampoo; brushes; hairsprays (1936?), so maybe Vaseline; and all this stuff is just for the cattle! Soda and ginger? Yes, just in case milking schedules got fouled up and cows had udder bloat…

The herd staff had to get their sleeping equipment ready; show clothes; barn clothes; and stacks of staple foods, for the herdsmen never were very far away from the cattle. In fact Harvey farm children still believe the Christmas Carol, “Away in a Manger”, was written about the early show barns. The herdsmen literally slept with the cattle, at the show and en-route to and from. In the 30’s, cattle were shipped by train. Special boxcars that could  accommodate as many as twenty cattle would have an elevated scaffold at one end of the car, and there their equipment was stored, and there the herdsmen slept for the thirty six hour train ride. Obviously the cattle would contribute their body heat to the atmosphere. The men would have a small primus stove to make tea and warm soup – generally for safety sake they would have the stove on the floor of the car.

In 1938, DeWitt Lister, now of Harvey, was herdsman for Bantry Bay Farms, and on such a cattle car. He and Arnold McLeod had gone back to Tony Taylor’s car for a cup of tea, but the stove malfunctioned and oil trickled out on the floor spreading to the straw where it soon become a choking, panic making fire. DeWitt, with great agility, climbed out of the fast moving car door, swung him self up on the roof and sprinted across seven car tops to alert the engineer and stop the train. Miraculously all but one of the cattle were pushed out onto the track side near Magantic, Maine. The burning car was uncoupled and the train continued onto Toronto.

Two days later the surviving cattle were delivered at the Royal; were shown, and did well.

On with the Show! Harvey Jersey Breeders have not shown at the Royal Exhibition since 1966.

Source: Rev. Bill Randall’s “From The Scrapbook Vol. One.”


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