Plowing Match in Grey County in 1933 

Plowing Match in Grey County in 1933 for the first International Plowing Match held in Grey and Bruce counties and it's success led to more such events in Grey.


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The Great Lakes Raconteur

This past weekend, a large delegation of Grey area residents made the trek to Ottawa to support Grey County s bid to play host to the International Plowing Match in 2004. 

Fortunately, they were not disappointed. This will not be the first time that Grey County will be the site of an International Plowing Match. In October 1933, Grey County held the plowing match on the Vernon Barber farm located on the 3rd Concession of Derby Township. It had taken many years of hard work before Grey County was successful in its attempts to play host to the International Plowing Match. 

The first International Plowing Match was held in 1913 on a location known as Sunnybrook Farm just north of the city of Toronto. The inaugural competition was so successful that the 1914 event was staged at the same location. Successive matches were held in various locations across the province and it seems that each year there was a growing desire to hold the match in this region. 

During the 1920s, delegations from both Grey and Bruce counties began in earnest to try and gain approval to hold an International Plowing Match. Each time they were told that they did not meet all the necessary requirements. 

But all the roadblocks quickly disappeared when Bruce and Grey decided to combine their efforts to promote one site as the site for the plowing match. The selected location was the farm of Vernon Barber in Derby Township. 

The support behind the bid to hold the 1933 plowing match was not limited to the County of Grey. The Plowing Associations from Derby, Sullivan, Normanby, St. Vincent, Egremont and Proton townships each contributed $100 to the cost of running the event. The City of Owen Sound and the County of Grey each provided $200. 

There was a lot of pride at stake at the plowing match. Although competitors would come from all over Ontario, the various regions of Grey County were determined their representatives would be especially successful. 

One municipality, Sullivan Township, provided a purse above the prizes offered by the Plowman's Association to the competitors from their region. Sullivan council authorized an expenditure of $15 to be divided up among the highest placed Sullivan competitors. 

Each day, the highest placed Sullivan plowman would receive a bonus of $4, the second highest finisher received $2 and the third-place entrant would be awarded an extra $1.50. 

The plowing competitions were not the only events at the 1933 match. There were also a considerable number of exhibitors displaying their products and skills. 

Among those showcasing their merchandise and services were the Ontario Veterinary College, the Imperial Oil Company, the chemistry department of the Ontario Agricultural College, the Massey-Harris Company, the Swedish Separator Company of Montreal, United Motor Service of Toronto, the Ford Motor Company, Beatty Brothers of Fergus, the Department of Public Health, Eastern Steel Products of Preston, International Harvester, the fertilizer division of Canadian Industries of Montreal, the Hydro Electric Power Commission, the Cockshutt Plow Company of Brantford, the Plessissville Foundry of Plessissville Quebec, Firestone Tire and Canadian Plows and Forge Company of Kitchener. 

When the 1933 International Plowing Match concluded, it was considered to have been a tremendous success. Other plowing matches have been held in Grey County since 1933 and each one has been a source of pride for the region. 

There is no reason to believe the 2004 event will be any different! 

The information used in this article carne from several documents held in the Grey County archives.

A version of this story appeared in my Local History column in the Owen Sound Sun Times on March 2, 2001.

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