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February 2013, Vol. 37, No. 2
AgriNews Interactive

Holstein Heritage

Many dairy farmers call it a shrine to the Holstein breed, sacred ground.

It's an aging set of barns in Hudson, Que., just east of the Ontario border. While they've been deteriorating for years, the barns were once a stately beacon for the breed.

When $350,000 couldn't be raised for restoration, the municipal council issued a demolition permit. The grounds are expected to be transformed into more Ottawa River-side mansions and horse paddocks for Montreal's rich and famous.

The threat of demolition is something that has Holstein fans more tearful than angry. While they'd like the shrine spared, so far no movement has gelled to make that happen.

In 1924, Thomas Bassett Macaulay, a life insurance company owner with no previous agricultural experience, built the barns and the acclaimed Montvic Holstein herd they contained. They say the bloodlines developed by Macaulay have permeated every Holstein pedigree in the world.

In 1995, with 400 stakeholders from across North America in attendance, three plaques were unveiled at the site honouring Macaulay and his contribution. Two of the three plaques have been ripped off gateposts at the end of Mount Victoria Drive; the third is attached to a large stone.

"It's very sad for a man who worked so hard," observes great-grandaughter Louise Macaulay of the site that's no longer owned by the family. "The barns sat in a state of disrepair for too long and now they're about to be bulldozed, the land subdivided."

Financial support from artificial insemination units, feed companies and Holstein Canada covered the cost of the 1995 tribute. Supporters are hoping these same corporations and associations can be persuaded to step up to the plate again, pull together $350,000, and – if it isn't too late – save the agricultural shrine.

We hope so too. When it comes to historic monuments, especially those reflecting our agricultural traditions, Canada has too few. Macauley's farm would be an obvious one to add to the limited list.

Eastern Ontario AgriNews is published on the third Monday of each month. The printed version is distributed free by postal mail to farms in Eastern Ontario, Canada.

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