Statement of Significance
Formal Recognition Type
In 2004 Cormier Dairy Farm Ltd merged with Chaffey Dairy Farm. This combined operation has 2100 head of dairy cattle of which 1000 are milking. And the combined forage consists of 900 acres of corn silage and 1000 acres of grass silage. This represents state of the art agriculture on a very large scale in Newfoundland. At the time of this merger, Cormier Dairy Farm Limited took on a new name: West Valley Farm Limited. This West Valley Farm can trace its modest beginnings back more than one hundred and fifty years to a migration movement from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland. In 1852 Isadore Cormier left Cheticamp, Nova Scotia, with his wife and seven children and travelled to Newfoundland by boat. They established a home in the Codroy Valley and made a living from fishing and farming. Isadore’s son, William, took over responsibility for the farm in 1870. He grew vegetables and raised a variety of livestock. In 1909 William’s son George joined his father. They continued farming in the traditional way, with hard work and horses. And George added logging to the mix of enterprises. In 1952, George purchased one of the first tractors in the Codroy Valley. The farm passed to George’s son, William, in 1954. He was the fourth generation on the farm. But William was drowned in 1958 in a logging accident on the Grand River. The farm passed to his brother Leo. When Leo took over the farm in 1958, it consisted of approximately 60 acres of cleared land of which fifteen acres were used for vegetables and the remainder for hay. There was a variety of livestock: 40 sheep, 30 beef cows, 6 pigs and 100 hens. Leo was an innovative farmer. He wanted to move the farm beyond its traditional profile. In 1963 the farm got electricity. And Leo began a dairy operation. He took out a loan from the Farm Loan Board, a matter of much concern among his family. He acquired a milk quota of 50 gallons a day and imported 12 dairy cows. He shipped the milk on the railway to Grand Falls. Two years later, he expanded the egg operation from 100 hens to 15,000 and built a state of the art layer barn. Leo turned the dairy operation over to his son Gerard in 1974. In 1978 Gerard was joined by his brother Danny and together they expanded Cormier’s Dairy Ltd to 800 head of which 300 were milked. The forage acres were necessarily expanded too: 400 acres of corn and 400 acres of grass silage. In 1983, Leo passed the egg operation over to his son Calvin who operated it until 1992. “My aim was to keep as many [children] here in the valley as we could,” says Leo. It worked. All but one of his nine children live in the province, with many of them remaining in the Codroy Valley. Leo Cormier was inducted into the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1998. That was in recognition of his many years of leadership in the dairy industry. He helped others establish their dairy business. And, as a director on several boards, he helped to bring better services to the dairy industry. He has always been held in high regard as an innovative farmer, a businessman, and an employer. His son, Gerard, follows in his father’s footsteps, giving leadership and service to the dairy industry both at the provincial level and nationally. Leo, whose axiom was that the farm should grow, not shrink, has worked for that himself and has watched his sons do the same. He looks back on his time on the farm and at the changes which his sons have brought: “I never dreamed I’d see what I see today. It’s a wonderful thing”. With acknowledgement to Natalie Musseau and The Gulf News, 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)