Behind the Lines - December 2009

Farming in the north has its challenges, and its rewards, as Senior Staff Editor Don Stoneman outlines in “Farming Northern-Style,” our cover story this month. The 2009 International Plowing Match was centred around the farm of Norm Koch, a relative newcomer to the area who has become a farming and agri-business force there. But visitors to the match will have noticed some other challenges as well. Some of them have to do with a simple thing such as spelling.

The Province of Ontario refers to the District of Timiskaming in all of its literature that we could find. The event north of New Liskeard was called the 2009 Temiskaming International Plowing Match and Rural Expo.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture refers to farmers and staff that represent the Temiskaming area. The lake is Temiskaming. The region of Quebec on the other side of the river is called Abitibi-Temiscamingue.

Clearly, “Temiskaming” appears to be the preferred local spelling. What gives?

An article from the local New Liskeard newspaper (published by the Temiskaming Printing Company), just after the plowing match, sheds some light. According to a report in The Speaker, the Territorial District of Temiskaming was formed in 1912 with the correct and locally preferred spelling. When the boundaries were re-aligned in 1927, the name was misspelled in the amended act and this spelling has been used by official bureaucracy ever since. There is a movement afoot in the north, partly precipitated by interest following the plowing match, to have the name officially changed to the preferred local spelling and bring the confusion to an end.

The real story about farming in the north, however, is the people. Although we’ve both visited the region often, we always come away with new respect for their warmth and enthusiasm. And that’s why a plowing match held so far from the hub of Ontario agriculture was such a remarkable event.

This month, we’re pleased to welcome farm writer Bernard Tobin to the pages of Better Farming. A former editor and colleague from Farm & Country days, Bernard has been writing about farming for two decades and we’re glad to have him take over our Crop Scene Investigation feature. Starting in this issue, Bernard will be working with a range of provincial field crop specialists and leading agronomists to bring you a new agronomic adventure along with a chance to win a weather station every issue.

Kevin Simpson is another former Farm & Country writer who is making his debut in this issue. The Certified Financial Advisor is a futures broker working almost exclusively with agricultural businesses, helping them to put together and execute marketing strategies. He will be contributing to our Better Decisions column on a variety of business topics. We are happy to have him aboard. BF

Robert Irwin & Don Stoneman

Better Farming - December 2009