To find a young
pioneer in old Ontario would seem almost an impossibility in the year
1910. There are many of them, however, and one of the most prominent is
Mr. James E. Johnson, of Simcoe, Ontario, better known amongst the farmers
of Norfolk as "Jim" Johnson.
He, in his county, as
a number of others like him in theirs, is the pioneer of a movement in
Ontario which is gradually transforming the older sections of the Province
into new fields of agriculture. Districts where were been abandoned for
richer soil in the west are being redeemed under a form of tillage best
suited to meet new economic conditions in Canada, and old Ontario is on
her way to doubling, within a few years, the value of her natural
The hundred-acre farm
can no longer compete with the quarter section of new, fertile prairie
land. The older land must be used for dairying, horticulture, gardening,
or for the raising of live stock.
In Norfolk county
fruit-growing is the industry that has proved most successful in the past
five years and the story of this half decade is linked inseparately with
the name of "Jim" Johnson.
Story of his
Mr. Johnson was born
and reared in Norfolk, and when a very young man went to Chicago, where he
started a commission business, dealing abundantly in fruit. He travelled
extensively in the States, became acquainted with the art of growing
apples and how to market them, and then, because of poor health, returned
to his native county to carry on a fruit trade there.
It was 1 years ago
that Mr. Johnson took up his second abode in Norfolk, and for four years
he endeavored to get the farmers around him to take proper care of their
orchards. "I knew," said Mr. Johnson to the writer, "that
this county was as fit for growing apples as any district in
The only thing to do
was to demonstrate the possibilities of a scientifically trained fruit
farm, and in 1903 he purchased twelve acres near the town of Simcoe. There
were some 300 trees on the land, which was not in the most desirable
location, and previous to Mr. Johnson's ownership no more than
seventy-five dollars' worth of apples had been taken from the orchard.
It was from the
cultivation of those 300 trees that Norfolk county was taught its lesson.
In the first year the owner spent $100 in cultivating the soil, in pruning
and spraying, and as a result he received over $1,200 for the first real
harvest of apples. That was enough. In 1906 Mr. Johnson succeeded in
organizing a co-operative society which undertook to market the fruit of
its members. The initial membership of this association was only
seventeen, and during the first season of its existence these seventeen
farmers sold 4,000 barrels of No. 1 apples.
In 1907 there were
fifty-two members, who sold 10,000 barrels; in 1908 the membership
increased to 152, and the output for that year was 15,000 barrels, and in
1909 the list of members numbered 188 and 19,000 barrels were shipped that
Since last year,
however, the expansion has been most marked. for 1910 the membership of
the Norfolk Co-operative Society was 333, and during the past season
36,000 barrels of choice apples were sold, giving returns amounting to
Besides this amount
over $25,000 was received for "peckers" which went to the
canning industry. All this money was in the bank at Simcoe at the end of
"November, awaiting the farmers' demands for shipments of Norfolk
fruit are made only on the basis of "f.o.b. Simcoe."
development in five years, due mainly to the efforts of one man, for he
has been Secretary-Treasurer of the Norfolk Fruit Growers' Association
since its inception, and has marketed its fruit every season, is a tribute
both to scientific farming and to the system of co-operation in production
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