The 2023 Ottawa Carleton Plowmen’s Association annual plowing match came back to its roots in Richmond this year.
The annual match visits a different farm in a different part of rural Ottawa each year. This year, the match took place on the Chris Schouten Farm on Eagleson Road between Ottawa Street and Brophy Road in Richmond.
The event opened Friday morning (Aug. 25) with the celebrity plowing match, featuring local politicians. This year’s winner was Carleton MPP Goldie Ghamari while Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe came in second. Others taking part included Councillors David Brown, George Darouze, David Hill, Catherine Kitts and others, as well as Ottawa Carleton Queen of the Furrow Rhiannah Gallagher.
Queen of the Furrow
The Queen of the Furrow has been a big tradition locally since 1977, when Ottawa Carleton crowned their first Queen of the Furrow, Margaret Drough. Since then 27 young ladies have represented the association with grace and style.
In 1988, Jill Patterson, the daughter of Gib and Elsie Patterson of Emerald Links, was crowned Queen of the Furrow at the Richmond Fair and became Ontario Queen of the Furrow. Several of the girls have placed in the top 5 competitors at the International Plowing Match.
Every year, each Queen must compete in their own county or region the year prior to the International Plowing Match. The requirements are an interview, plowing a parcel of land, and giving a speech. Personality and being able to present oneself are very big factors too.
The young ladies, between the ages of 16 and 24, are usually rural girls with a farming or an agricultural background and must be knowledgeable in the latest methods of plowing, agriculture, food production, safety, environmental issues and other community programs.
As a representative of the local association, the Queen of the Furrow participates in a number of activities such as local fairs, Food Aid Days, milking competitions, Farm Shows and 4-H Education Programs.
Former North Gower Township Reeve and Nepean Carleton MP Dr. Bill Tupper welcomed everyone during the opening ceremonies. He spoke about the 1983 Ottawa Carleton Plowing Match in Richmond, which drew 120,000 spectators over five days.
According to Tupper, it was the largest event ever held in Ottawa-Carleton. As a plus the event realized a substantial profit. However it was more than that. It was a remarkable social event. Committee members from across Ottawa Carleton made life-long friendships. They were proud to have organized the plowing match, and they were even more proud to be a part of an agriculture community which had the vision and talent to seek out and organize such an event.
The proceeds from the Plowing Match were in large part used to create two endowment funds which would provide bursaries and scholarships for students from Ottawa-Carleton who were studying agriculture. One of the endowment funds was set-up at the Kemptville College of Agriculture, the other at the University of Guelph. Shortly after the endowment funds were created the Province of Ontario developed a program to assist students by matching funds obtained by Colleges and Universities for bursaries and scholarships. The endowment funds qualified and doubled in value. The University of Guelph has managed the endowment funds in a very professional manner. Only the earnings from the endowment funds are used to fund the bursaries and scholarships. When the Kemptville College of Agriculture closed in 2014 that endowment fund was transferred to the Ridgetown Campus of the University of Guelph.
Currently three scholarships are awarded annually at the University of Guelph, one in the College of Agriculture, one in the College of Veterinary Medicine and one in the Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition. Students from Ottawa entering second year in the above programs at Guelph are eligible to apply for the 1983 plowing match scholarships. Students from Ottawa enrolled at the Ridgetown Campus who are entering the second year of an Associate Diploma program in agriculture, environment management, horticulture, or veterinary technology are eligible to apply for the scholarships (merit) and bursaries (need).