By Tom Collins
ELMIRA —A Western Ontario dairy farmer who died in a crash in Saskatchewan while driving across the country in a tractor with a large sign reading “Ask this dairy family about Canadian milk” was remembered as a hard worker with a spunky personality.
Bettina Schuurmans, 55, was travelling to British Columbia with her husband, Henk, in an open-cab John Deere 6430 tractor when the tractor was rear-ended by a semi-truck trailer just outside Saskatoon on July 9. Bettina was killed. Henk was taken to hospital in critical condition.
Henk broke his right pelvis. His left pelvis was fractured. He now gets around in a wheelchair and is meeting with a surgeon in August. But Henk is driving again and is expected to make a full recovery.
The accident happened on a sunny day on a straight, clear highway. The tractor had flags and a life-size plastic cow was attached to the back of the tractor. No charges had been laid as of Aug. 1.
At Bettina’s July 26 funeral, pins were handed out with the words “Keep my milk 100 per cent Canadian.”
The couple was making the trip they called the Canadian Milk Tour to teach non-farmers about the supply management system and why the two believed it should not be changed during trade negotiations. The duo would stop to talk at community parks and were frequently seen at a Tim Hortons drive-thru.
The plan was to go to British Columbia before coming back home for their son Jim’s wedding in September. Then they were planning to hop back on the tractor and drive to the east coast.
They left the farm and 200 milking cows in the hands of their three sons, Tom, Jim and Eric. The Schuurmans also have two daughters, Lize and Emily.
A gofundme page had raised $85,006 as of Aug. 1, with all the proceeds to go to the family.
Henk is planning to finish the trip, although it is not expected to go by tractor.