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Honouring Elgin’s Past Provincial Ploughing Matches


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Jenny’s painting features a weathered ploughman and his team of Clydesdale horses ploughing at a provincial match. Onlookers from both city and country observe and compare each entry. In the background is the famous tent city with exhibiters’ flags flapping in the brisk fall breeze; glimpses of attendees’ pickups, autos and RVs.

 Can you feel the excitement?

The first Provincial Ploughing Match in Elgin County was held in 1940 on the grounds of the newly constructed Ontario Psychiatric Hospital, across the road from then Premier Mitch Hepburn’s own farm. Mitch’s Liberal government leased the yet unoccupied hospital to the federal government for a technical training centre for the Canadian Air Force. The surrounding Hospital farm lands were ideal for the tented city and the ploughing competitions. Hepburn’s eight horse Clydesdale hitch led the opening parade.

Artist Jenny Phillips’ grandfather, uncle and father traveled from Waterloo County to compete with their teams of horses. Jenny’s grandfather won a prize and her fourteen year old father took home

the youngest ploughman prize.

Later at the 1960 match held in Springfield, in the eastern section of Elgin, Jenny’s father again competed. The Springfield match held the first ‘Queen of the Furrow’ competition with Linda Prong, from Elgin, capturing the crown. Linda, her coach/father-in-law, Ray Prong and Minister of Agriculture (1956-1961) Wm. A. Goodfellow, MLA for Northumberland, are seen in the painting, to the left of the plough team. 1960 was also the launch year for the John Deere 3010 New Generation tractor. The Elgin Ploughman’s Association has a similar restored tractor that will be raffled off in 2010.In 1985 St. Thomas and Elgin again hosted a provincial match, this time behind the Ford Motor Assembly Plant at Talbotville. The RV Park that is enjoyed by so many each year was initiated there in 1985 and to honour the twenty-fifth anniversary of that occasion, Jenny has included an RV and a bit of a camper by the right rumps of the horses.

In 1985 both Jenny and her father had commercial exhibits; Jenny for her art work depicting the rural lifestyle and her Dad with his hot tub business. Jenny won first prize for her popular exhibit and is extremely honoured and excited to be a part of the 2010 International Ploughing Match September 21-25 in St. Thomas and Elgin County.

Elgin has a history of great, enthusiastic farmers and ploughmen, both at the township, county and provincial levels. These men and women will again bring focus and honour to their community while educating and entertaining the urban and rural visitors. Plan to attend for a great time.

Jenny Phillips is the feature artist for the 2010 International Ploughing Match..

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