Plowing Match Has Long History in Stormont Dundas and Glengarry

August 31, 2015
By Bob Peters

Cornwall Ontario – This September will mark the third time that Stormont Dundas and Glengarry has hosted the International Plowing Match and Rural Expo.

The major event, the largest of its kind in North America, was previously held in Cornwall in 1936 and in Crysler in 1958. This year’s event will take place over 6 days from September 22-26 in Finch Ontario.

The 1936 Plowing Match was held on D.L. MacLennan’s farm on South Branch Road, just north of Cornwall.  At the time, the Ottawa Citizendescribed Mr. MacLennan’s reaction to the event:

“He had never before witnessed an International Plowing Match. In fact he was at first just a little quizzical but when he saw people swarm over his property in the amount of 40,000 in one day; when from his broad patios and terraced lawns he surveyed a line up of 40 spans of heavy horses that would do credit to the Royal Winter Fair; when he beheld 2,000 cars parked on the slopes of the farm across the South Branch Road, he was so speechless he could scarce express his surprise and enthusiasm. He declared he never expected to again witness such a spectacle!”

The Plowing Match featured horse plowing competitions as well as a tented city where vendors and equipment dealers displayed all manner of goods. The matches were spread over 40 farms along the South Branch Road, mostly between Eamer’s Corners and Grant’s Corners to the east. Over 175 acres of land were turned by the plowmen throughout the four day event.

At the time, electricity was not available outside the city but lines were extended to provide power to the tented city. It wasn’t too long after the match that the neighbouring farmers got power as well.

Cornwall’s Mayor Horovitz helped conclude the event by hosting a dinner at the Cornwall Arena on Water Street for over 700 participating plowmen along with invited guests.

By the time the IPM returned to Stormont County in 1958 farming had changed considerably. Rubber tired tractors had largely replaced horses, as well as iron-wheeled tractors.

Prime Minister John Diefenbaker opened the 1958 Plowing Match in Crysler to an enthusiastic crowd of 15,000. Mr. Diefenbaker noted that he had done some plowing himself when he was younger.

Armand Clouthier granted permission to use 35 acres of his farm for the tented city, and local farmers such as Bernard Raymond and Ralph Beehler, well known international plowmen, also offered their nearby farmlands for the plowing competition. Bernard Beehler was very involved in Stormont Plowing Association, and his seven sons participated in the competition, something that has likely never been repeated.

It would be over 50 years before the Plowing Match would return to SDG, but local organizers are excited about once again hosting thousands of visitors.

About the International Plowing Match & Rural Expo

The International Plowing Match and Rural Expo is a premier five-day event promoting agricultural and rural lifestyles. Each year, over the five days, more than 75,000 people attend to view education and commercial exhibits, and at the same time enjoy live music and local food vendors. The 2015 IPM will be held in Finch from September 22-26, from 8:30am – 5:00pm daily.

More info can be found online:

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