I would like to voice the fate of the Kapuskasing Beef Research Farm as a result of the recent budget cuts. As a long time resident of Kapuskasing and as a life time resident of Northern Ontario, I do not agree with the decision to close this Historic site. As we all know, this research farm was established in 1914 and developed by “prisoners of war”, who in our Government’s eye represented a risk to the security of our country:
“The internment camp at Kapuskasing served two purposes for the government: it confined persons who supposedly posed a security risk, and it used their labour to clear forest for an experimental farm and develop new territory for future settlement. Kapuskasing is located in the GreatLakes drainage basin that was discovered during construction of the National Transcontinental Railway (later Canadian National). Authorities hoped to open the Clay Belt for settlement but it was first necessary to develop and test hardy food crops that might grow in such a harsh climate. A site for a federal experimental farm was provided by the Ontario government on a tract of 1,282 acres that lay west of the Kapuskasing River and south of the newly-built railway line. There was no human habitation at Kapuskasing at that time, merely an abandoned suveyors’ camp at a railway siding known as Macpherson Station. The name Kapuskasing, was not adopted until 1917.”
This information and more can be found at the following link: https://www.cdli.ca/monuments/on/kapplaq.htm
It seems that back then, our Government along with our Clergy, had the practice of relocating their people wherever they seemed favorable, whenever they felt either at risk or not in control. When I say this I think of the horrible Residential School events; I think of the Internment Camps, where innocent people came to Canada to escape the oppression of the Hapsburg regime and showed no inclination to return and fight in the Austrian army. I also think of how Northern Ontario (I’m not talking about NorthBay or Sudbury here – I’m talking about Northern Ontario – Kapuskasing, Hearst, Cochrane ect…) was colonized; how our parents and their parents were bought a one way ticket to an unfamiliar part of the country where they had to start to build a home from lands of standing timber and where black flies could drive you absolutely crazy…
It is exactly what they did; they built houses, homes and communities of strong, generous and courageous people. It was difficult for these families to leave behind all they had and start a new life that according to authorities, was the only way to survive the Great Depression of the 1930’s. My parent’s families, as many, left all behind, under authorities’ recommendations to come and colonize Northern Ontario which has now become our home.
I’m sure all these decisions were taken in good faith and with the best interest to all at heart and although these events turned out the way they did; we are where we are today and decisions are being made about the North without consideration to the citizens living in the North – again, I’m thinking here of the province wanting to sell off the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission. I could go on and on talking about issues that I feel are unjust to our remote area but I want to concentrate on the closure of the Beef Research Farm.
As I understand, one of the arguments is that Beef is now out West; although when it was convenient to parties involved (and it seems it was convenient up to now and for many years), research and experiments were being conducted in a very serious effective manner. Results came out of these experiments and researchers in collaboration with the employees and other partners worked laboriously attaining their goals.
The Kapuskasing Research Farm is a valuable partner to Science results in the Agricultural field. This fact cannot be overlooked or ignored. It has to be seriously taken into consideration. Employees at this experimental farm have been working without a superintendent for years and yet are at work each and every day, on time and they accomplish the submitted protocols. These employees are very versatile in the work they do. They have learned to put all skills at work and to be very resourceful in their everyday commitment to the employer.
If indeed Beef is now out West and this statement certainly can be debatable, let us not forget that agriculture does not include strictly beef; although this branch of research is serving its purpose and attaining its goals. Here is one of the definitions of agriculture:
The science of cultivating land, producing crops, and raising livestock.
The Kapuskasing Beef Research farm consists of a lot of land where a large variety of crops can be tested and a large variety of livestock can be promoted for research. There is a multitude of possibilities that this establishment can continue to serve in the research branch. There is no cost involved in establishing facilities since they are up and running and this valuable asset cannot go to waste. I am not disputing the fact that our government needs to reorganize their finances but they are cutting at the wrong place. There is also a huge difference between reducing operations and closing a place all together; especially an establishment with such an important history.
For years now our youth have been fleeing the North. It starts when they leave to go get an education; either College or University and they never come back because of the restrained opportunities offered to them. We need an investment from our Government to develop the North. What our Government is doing now is taking away, one by one, what our generation, our parents and grandparents have worked very hard to establish.
There is so much available land and space in our region that employers should be encouraged to develop businesses and employ people, not shut down entirely because the North lacks priority in the government’s eye. There are boundless opportunities for economic growth, one of the engines of development, especially during a financial downturn. The North is blessed with endless natural resources, not to exploit, but to research, study and develop accordingly. There are countless opportunities in the North and it is best to address its dwindling chances now rather than later when the government realizes that the North does indeed have precious resources that can benefit the larger populace, or hard working individuals that can innovate, create, develop an industry and maintain it. It is important to notice that Northern Ontario climate does not only reflect this particular province, but similar climates across Canada. What we research, study and develop here is of benefit to various regions and people, more than one could imagine.
It’s not too late.
The North possesses rich farm land where crops can be cultivated in large volume and feed a lot of people and the Kapuskasing Research Center has to continue to be the Heart of our Future. I ask that our Government concentrates its energies and finances in a growing Northern Ontario instead of participating in endangering its future. Help us be part of the solution and not part of the problem.
We’re all familiar with the saying “out of sight, out of mind”, but to the residents of Northern Ontario, these economic and political decisions are hitting home pretty hard.
We might be far, we might be few, but this time, we’re taking a stand. There is power in numbers, so even if there might be 100 degrees of separation between you and Northern Ontario, I hope you spread the word with us as it is now time for our voices to be heard.