Bailey’s celebrating 100 years of farming in B.C.

The Bailey’s received the Century Farm Award by the Ministry of Agriculture for 100 years of farming within the same family. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Barn constructed on the farm by James Bailey, John’s father. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Photograph of John Bailey ploughing in his earlier years of farming. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
John Bailey at his home in Vanderhoof. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
John Bailey at his farm on Feb. 23, 2020. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
John and Myrna Bailey, with their dog Sophie at their homestead. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
John’s parents, James Bailey and Elizabeth Redmond. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)

The Bailey Farm in Vanderhoof is celebrating a hundred years of farming history.

The farm’s origin begins with James Bailey’s arrival to B.C. from Ireland in 1914. He then travelled from the coast to the Nechako Valley where he had family already settled in.

When the First World War broke out, Bailey enlisted to serve in the war and in 1916, he fought in France for three years as part of the 102nd Canadian Expeditionary Force Battalion.

In 1919, Bailey received a land grant through the Veterans Land Act, and built a two-roomed log house in Vanderhoof. After thirteen years he married Elizabeth Redmond and they raised three sons, and expanded their home for their growing family.

The farm began with dairy cows, laying hens, beef cattle and horses. Myrna Bailey told the Omineca Express that beef cattle were raised for both food and income. On the other hand, horses were bred to help around the farm, or to sell to other farmers. Whereas, by-products such as milk, cream and eggs were sold locally to businesses in the community.

Bailey’s son John, who runs the farm now, had a lot of stories to share.

“When we were 15, my brother Avon and I would gravel roads in our summer break. We would take our team to the local gravel pit, shovel it into our wagon box and the government would give us a certain length of the road closest to home, to spread the gravel.”

“That’s how we paid our taxes at the time,” narrated John, happy re-living the memories.

Another interesting fact, the Bailey’s only got power for the first time on their farm in 1948.

“What a great day that was,” narrates Myrna.

“I remember my father-in-law sitting in his chair in the front room with his ear to the radio. What a treat after all those years of land clearing by hand, horse, cross-cut saws, a grub hoe etc. Those pioneers worked hard opening up the land, never complaining, and had time for their family and were always there giving a helping hand to the neighbour.”

John took over the farm in 1963.

He had married Myrna nine years ago and they had five children together. The family moved to the homestead in 1962 and by ‘65, they had water and sewer for the first time, “which made life much easier,” John recollects.

The biggest farm income for them was raising beef and grain, sometimes they would even cut wood for sale. The family also raised geese, pigs, sheep, duck and chickens. Additionally both husband and wife had jobs off the farm to help make ends meet.

“Life hasn’t always been easy, but we are very lucky folks who are blessed with a large family and a beautiful farm. We have five children, nine grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren who have all played a role in keeping up the family farm,” Myrna stated in a release by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Bailey was awarded with the Century Farm Award at the Nechako Valley Regional Cattlemen’s Association’s Annual General Meeting on Saturday, Feb. 22.

The award by the Ministry of Agriculture is to honour agricultural organizations that have been active for a century or longer, as well as pioneers whose farms and ranches have been in families for 100 years or more.

Lana Popham, minister of agriculture said, “James’ journey, his service and dedication to building a home and a farm for his family are an inspiration to many. Congratulations to the Bailey Farm on 100 years of contributing to B.C.’s farming, ranching and community history.”

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