Seven lifelong Canadian agriculture ambassadors from across the country were formally inducted into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame on November 4 at a ceremony in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. The 2023 inductees are Garnet Altwasser, John Bragg, Rory Francis, Marcel Groleau, Ron Helwer, Robert K. Irving and Ray Robertson.
“This year’s lineup of inductees represents the diversity that drives the longstanding success and outstanding reputation of Canadian agriculture, says Ted Menzies, president of the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame. “These individuals have made lasting impacts on the agricultural landscape across the country with a common drive for innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit that spans across primary production, value-added food processing, agricultural extension, farm input retail, farm organization leadership and the startup sector. We’re proud to honour the contributions these individuals continue to make for Canadian agriculture.”
Garnet Altwasser is an agribusiness entrepreneur whose vision for Alberta as a hub of Canada’s beef industry saw him establish Lakeside Farm Industries Ltd, a multi-faceted business that includes Lakeside Feeders – the largest single site feeding operation in Canada. Beef products from the Brooks, AB operation are marketed across Canada, North America and 20 other countries around the world. Garnet Altwasser lives in Brooks, AB and was nominated by the County of Newell.
John Bragg is the dominant force in the evolution of the wild blueberry industry in the Maritimes. At Bragg Foods Group, he built the sector from a cottage industry to the high-tech, export-driven sector it is today. His visionary leadership saw expanded production, a focus on research and development, new export markets and innovation in processing. John Bragg lives in Collingwood, NS and was nominated by Honourable Greg Morrow, Nova Scotia Minister of Agriculture.
Rory Francis has dedicated his career to the agriculture and life science sector in Canada with a particular passion for island agriculture. His work and vision as a dedicated public servant and business founder have changed the commercial landscape of PEI, where he is CEO of BioAlliance and founder of the annual VetHealth Global conference. Rory Francis lives in Charlottetown, PEI and was nominated by the PEI Department of Agriculture and Land, and Byron Beeler.
Marcel Groleau is a dairy farmer and pioneer in Canadian agricultural leadership. An accomplished farm leader including leading the Union des producteurs agricoles, Groleau is guided by collaboration and cooperation. He’s an advocate for sustainable development with a drive to improve the social-economic situation of farmers. Marcel Groleau lives in Thetford Mines, QC and was nominated by Union des producteurs agricoles and Les Producteurs de lait du Québec.
Ron Helwer is a visionary agribusiness leader and owner/founder of Shur-Gro Farm Services – one of the most effective independent fertilizer operations in Canada. A tireless entrepreneur with a generous spirit, Helwer founded what is today the Canadian Association of Agricultural Retailers and believes strongly in the value of giving back to support agricultural education. Ron Helwer lives in Brandon, MB and was nominated by Ray West.
Robert K. Irving’s agricultural legacy began when he established Cavendish Farms in 1980, a frozen food plant in PEI that created a local opportunity for processing and value-added agriculture. Cavendish is now the fourth largest producer of frozen French fry products in North America. Irving also heads Cavendish Ag Services – an agricultural inputs and services company. Robert Irving lives in Dieppe, NB and was nominated by Potato Growers of Alberta.
Ray Robertson is a recognized and highly regarded champion of forage production in Canada. A former dairy farmer and extension specialist, Robertson developed Grey Agricultural Services Centre to provide fee-for-service extension programs. His leadership saw the development of the Canadian Forage and Grasslands Association, building a national vision, international markets, and research and development for Canadian hay. Ray Robertson lives in Markdale, ON and was nominated by Joan McKinlay, Canadian Forage and Grassland Association, Ontario Forage Council, Grey Bruce Farmers’ Week, Grey County Agricultural Services Centre, and the Ontario, Georgian Region and Grey County Soil and Crop Improvement Associations.
For more information on these inductees, visit www.cahfa.com where videos and citations are posted – search under “Inductees.”
The Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame Association (CAHFA) honours and celebrates Canadians for outstanding contributions to the agriculture and food industry. Portraits are on display in the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame Gallery located at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. The CAHFA also publicizes the importance of inductee achievements to Canada. The Association was organized in 1960 and is administered by a 12-person volunteer Board of Directors residing in regions across Canada. www.cahfa.com