Throughout the 1970s and 80s, some farmers from Oak Valley, a small settlement north of Brinston, were embroiled in an epic battle to continue farming there.
Anna Smail and Norm Tinkler led the charge on behalf of their families homesteads to get the government and its agencies to recognize their plight and do something about the annual flooding which was more than just a nuisance to area farmers.
The extent of the flooding made day to day operations of the farm a struggle and summer floods had devastating effects on crops.
What the farmers needed was to get all levels of government involved to dredge and realign the Nation River and South Branch in Dundas County.
In the end, their efforts paid off, and the project was completed. It took well over 10 years of involvement to get it done.
“You didn’t think about the time you were putting into it, you just did it,” said Smail.
“It was a battle,” said Tinkler. “The biggest reward for our efforts is to see what has happened in our area.”
Through the efforts of these farmers, the Oak Valley, Brinston areas now have thousands of acres of wonderfully productive farmland.
Remembering back to floods, Smail said, “It was bad.”
She remembers having to get in a boat to go to a tractor to get a ride out to dry land so the school bus could pick them up.
Her family had to sandbag the milk house to keep the water out. The cows had to be put on a raised floor and still, they were often standing in water.
During the floods, the milk had to be taken from their farm’s bulk tank, in cans, to another farm on dry land. It would the have to then be emptied into that tank, so the milk truck could take the milk.
March 8, Smail and Tinkler received Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, in recognition of their efforts. The presentation was made at the Dundas Soil and Crop Improvement Association’s annual Seed, Forage and Agriculture Show.