Statement of Significance
Formal Recognition Type
Porter’s Farm was established around 1875 when Robert Porter received a grant of land about ten miles west of Lewisporte, a growing community based on fishing and lumbering. Soon a community of farms developed and became known as Porterville. In the early years, the vegetables and sheep products were exchanged for barter. But as time passed, towns developed in the region and provided a secure cash market. In the 1890s Botwood developed nearby as a sawmilling centre. In 1907 Grand Falls began to produce newsprint and to export it through the port of Botwood. In 1911 a pulp mill was established in Bishops Falls and later the town became a regional centre for the railway. Buchans developed a mining industry. These growing towns provided good markets for the farms at Porterville. The railways connections to the industrial towns allowed the farms to market their products throughout the region. Porter’s Farm also sold a lot of product to Fogo Island to the Fish Union Trading Company. “That was before they had the ferry. In the fall of the year they could come up here and fill up by the boatload.” The towns prospered through the 1920s and the Depression, and also through the military activity of World War II in the Botwood region. This strong regional market has held through to today. Robert Porter’s sons, Kaleb, Alvin and Norman, each had farms of their own which in turn were farmed by their sons. Hubert Porter is Norman’s son and the original Robert Porter’s grandson. Norman died in 1956 and Hubert and his brother Arthur took on the farm. The farm was expanded after they acquired a tractor in 1960. From about 10 or 12 acres, the farm is now 130 acres. Arthur retired in the 1970s. Hubert now farms with his son Mark as a partner, the fourth generation of Porters on the farm. The farm has produced different products through the years: originally vegetables and sheep, later on hens and foxes. Today, Hubert and Mark focus on a full range of vegetables, and sheep, and hay. They also sell feed and fertilizer. They butcher their sheep themselves and sell the wool to a company in Prince Edward Island. Sadly, Porter’s Farm is one of the last in the community where once there were many. Hubert Porter remarks: “It would break your heart to see some of the land built up with houses on it.” But he declares that he has always been able to make a good living from his farm. “It’s a challenge. I love farming, that’s it. I always liked it. You accomplish something. Everyday you can see the results of something you have done….” * With acknowledgement to Karen Wells of The Lewisporte Pilot, Transcontinental Community Newspapers. All content and images copyright Agricultural History Society of Newfoundland and Labrador
The Agricultural History Society of Newfoundland and Labrador is mandated to collect and honour the history of agriculture in this province and to raise public awareness of agriculture as a theme in the story of the province. In 2005 the Society created the Century Farm Award which is meant to identify, recognize and honour any farm family who have continuously farmed the same land for one hundred years or more and who continue to farm it at the present time. This award represents the pioneering agricultural history of the province: some farms supplied the growing town of St. John’s with milk, produce, meat and forage for livery stables; other farms supplied vegetables and butter to fishing communities by coastal boat; and others sent produce and dressed poultry by rail to the new resource towns, such as Grand Falls. Some of the early farmers came directly from the British Isles and others came to Newfoundland from earlier settlements in Nova Scotia. From their early beginnings these farms have survived as productive agricultural businesses by adapting successfully to changing market demands and changing economic circumstances and by adopting innovative technology. They have kept their land in good heart through as many as half a dozen generations. The Century Farm families have earned the Century Farm Award in recognition for their contribution to the history of our province and for their commitment to agriculture in the province’s future.
Location and History
Not specified (Newfoundland)