By Tom Collins
ROSLIN — Former Ontario Pork chair, innovator and hobby pilot, Doug Farrell, was never one to avoid hard work.
Back in the 1960s, Doug had the novel idea for slatted floors to allow pig manure to fall between the slats into a holding tank underneath. You couldn’t buy manufactured slatted floors, so Farrell built them himself.
The sixth-generation farmer would show his kids an old picture of a 350-foot long, four-foot deep ditch that he once dug by hand since he couldn’t afford to rent a backhoe.
“Hard work was nothing,” said his son Kevin. “You put your nose down and you made it happen.”
Doug Farrell died from pancreatic cancer on Feb. 1 at the age of 78.
After graduating from Kemptville College in the late 1950s, Farrell spent a year as a poultry inspector before moving back home to farm with his brother Don near Roslin, north of Belleville. Doug Farrell was a director with the Quinte Pork Producers for almost 60 years, director for Eastern Ontario on the Ontario Pork Producers Marketing Board from 1974 to 1990 (including chair from 1981-1984), a founding member of Canada Pork Inc. and served 10 years on the Canadian Pork Council. He was inducted into the Quinte Hall of Fame in 2006.
People frequently asked Doug when he planned to retire. “He just laughed,” said Kevin. “He said, ‘if I retired, I’d do what I’m doing.’ Farming was his passion. He lived and breathed it right up to the very end, always calling me out to the barn and reminding me about things. Even at 78, I couldn’t keep up with him.”
Farrell was also an avid flyer. He earned his pilot’s licence in the early 1960s and kept his plane on the farm. There was a grass strip for takeoffs and landings.
He also enjoyed photography and he and son Kevin took aerial photos of the local plowing match.
“We had a bit of a competition of who could take the better photo,” said Kevin. “It was like ‘You take the stick.’ ‘No, you take the stick: I’m taking photos.”
Former Canadian Pork Council chair Tom Smith said Farrell, while chair of Ontario Pork for three years in the early 1980s, served Ontario producers with dedication and excellence, and was well respected for his straightforward manner.
“When discussions became difficult and consensus was strained, we would hear Doug say, ‘Shucks,’ and we would know that he was about to bring everyone back to reality,” said Smith. “Doug would look a person directly in the eye when speaking and expect you to do the same and answer in the same way the question was asked.”
Smith visited Farrell about a month before his death to laugh about the good times they had in the 40-plus years they had known each other. At that get-together, Farrell had told Smith that Farrell’s insurance company had caught on to his age and had cancelled his insurance for flying.
“Well Doug, you have your wings back,” Smith said during the eulogy. “Fly high, good man. Watch over and help keep your family safe. We can all reflect on a life well-lived, what you achieved and who you were.”