The Ottawa Valley Seed Growers Association is rich in family and traditions and is strengthened by its volunteer directors. The Posthumus family of Wolfe Island is an excellent example.
Henry Posthumus recently joined OVSGA as a director and is “excited to carry on the Posthumus legacy at the Ottawa Valley Seed Growers Association.” OVSGA is very fortunate to have Henry sharing his expertise, wisdom, and island ag knowledge, building on the foundation set in place by his father, John.
Born in Hoornsteerwaag, Friesland in the Netherlands, John Posthumus’s story of “Coming to Canada”, published in the Island Gazette of Wolfe and Simcoe Islands, back in the days of the 15 cent papers, is a fascinating read.
In the 1940s, John left for Canada in search of a farming life, via the “Flying Dutchman,” landing in Montreal and taking the train to Tweed to meet his sponsors. There he milked and did farm chores, finding that farming in Canada was similar to Holland.
In 1950 he first saw Wolfe Island when he drove to visit friends. John liked what he saw as it had a similar geography as Holland. He later returned to the Island and put a deposit of $500 on his first farm. It was 100 acres with a little house and no hydro or phone … but it was home.
After years of working in the lumber camps with both horses and Caterpillars, and then in saw mills to support himself and get his farm running, John at last returned to Wolfe Island to stay. He married his wife Saakje in the Island’s United Church and together raised their family, welcoming the births of Garry, Joanne, Henry, Eddy and Sally. They bought more land, got hydro and a telephone!
In 1963 they built a new barn which held 50 dairy cows and had stalls for calves. Installing a pipeline and milking with a bulk tank, one of the first on the island, gave them a $0.10 premium on their milk. In 1965 they built two silos for corn silage, followed by a Harvestore silo for high moisture corn. By this time, they had expanded to farm 390 acres, and later added another 100 acres with the help of kind friends.
John has always been proud of his family. He believes it is important for them to understand their roots and the rewards of hard work. His children have all been to Holland to explore their heritage and he hopes the grandchildren and great-grandchildren will all have the same opportunity.
During the 1960s, John joined and became active in the Federation of Agriculture, Farm Safety Association, Plowmen’s Association and Soil and Crop Improvement Association. Not long after, he became involved with the Ottawa Valley Seed Growers Association, leading the organization as its president in 1984 and 1985. At that time, OVSGA hosted the annual Ottawa Valley Farm Show at Ottawa’s Lansdowne Park.
John judged hay, seed and grain at seed fairs, and plowed at a host of plowing matches. In recent summers, he volunteered at Wolfe Island’s tourist information booth, proudly sharing the island’s features and history, and enjoying the many interesting visitors. Today, John keeps busy with his many hobbies including woodworking, card playing and spinning wool. From being crowned the pumpkin king at Pumpkinfest 2004, to receiving many farming awards, John has always been proud to farm.
John has now settled into retirement, enjoying visits with friends and family. “I have lived a very full life on Wolfe Island, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I have learned from the many experiences, and it has been wonderful.”
OVSGA is grateful for the opportunity to work with volunteers like John and Henry.