currently i am researching the agricultural history of morin-heights and the surrounding laurentian area – both for my own interest and to gain greater insight for Homestead Nomads and our Farmer’s Market. in the internet part of my search, i found a somewhat comprehensive story of farming in the simon river area, and was particularly intrigued by an article written by sandra stock.
here’s a snippet from her article Farming Among The Rocks :: Agriculture in the Laurentians
By the 1890’s, the Laurentians were becoming less isolated and in the summers, middle class people from Montreal started coming for vacations away from the city. This initiated a new form of farm economy – the boarding house-farm. These were, from what we read and know of this period, almost without exception run by women. In Morin Heights, for example, these establishments were referred to as “Mrs. Charlie Seale’s” or “Mrs. Annie Kennedy’s” or just a family name, “Watchorn’s Farm” or “Campbell’s Farm”, with the presiding CEO always a woman. At this period, and well into the 1950’s, there was a strong cultural, almost religious, belief in the moral, as well as the physical, health benefits of the countryside as opposed to the town. Clean air and water and locally grown food, the so-called “simple life” of country people and the contact with animals and plants were viewed as morally improving, particularly for children.
of course our rugged terrain – dense forests, a multitude of swamps, and infinite supply of rocks made conventional, mechanized agriculture impossible. convenience trumps ~everything~ in the 20th century and this fresh life fell by the wayside. luckily, modern farming methods are being slowly debunked by the increasing productivity of small to medium scale farming methods [including permaculture and biodynamics] and we, personally, are working towards bringing agriculture back to its rightful place.