Richard Walker was born in 1924 and raised on the family farm in Woodhouse Township, Norfolk County. According to Richard, it was a typical mixed farm operation. They milked cows, raised pigs, chickens, sheep and beef on 100 acres.
Growing up on a farm in the 1920s developed a strong work ethic in Richard. Even as a youngster he loved to tinker with small engines and enjoyed carpentry work. He attended Simcoe High School and in 1941 was chosen to represent his school at the Canadian National Exhibition’s wood working display.
Richard, along with his brother Murray, operated a small engine repair shop on the farm. Richard was an active beekeeper with as many as 30 colonies of bees which produced up to 1 ton of honey per year. He enjoyed playing both hockey and softball. Today, at 91 years of age, he continues to work in his repair shop, makes his own band saw blades which he sells and runs an authorized electric fence repair business.
Throughout his life, Richard has been an advocate for agriculture. He has served as a director of the Norfolk Federation of Agriculture from 1968 to 2015. He served as President from 1973 to 1975. During his tenure as President, the first newsletter was sent out to members and the first annual banquet was held. But perhaps his greatest legacy with the NFA is the work he did to increase membership to the organization. He encouraged his fellow farmers to become part of “Farmers Helping Farmers.”
Richard served as a Director of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA). During his tenure with the OFA, he became involved with the Bay Area Restoration Monitoring Committee. Their mandate was to “restore and protect the ecosystem health of the Hamilton Harbour and its watershed”. Richard represented the agricultural community on the committee.
Over The Fence was a radio program that aired on CHNR in Simcoe. It was a weekly five minute broadcast that promoted agricultural awareness in Norfolk County. Richard was the host of this program for 30 years. Each week, he determined the topic, found a guest speaker, laid out the questions and conducted the interviews. On more than one occasion he interviewed Arthur Loughton, Director of the Simcoe Research Station.
The Ontario Farm Machinery Agency (OFMA) was established through the OFA to bring farm tractors into Ontario from England to force manufacturers to provide competitive pricing in the Ontario marketplace. It evolved into a company that offered a wide variety of farm implements and parts at a substantial discount to OFA members through its bulk purchasing capabilities. During the 1980s, Richard served as a Director on the board and acted as Chair for two terms.
Richard has been involved with the Knights of Columbus since 1956. He is a Past Grand Knight, was Knight of the Year in 1972 and received a Supreme Knights Certificate of Commendation in 2009.
Richard’s involvement in his community has been extensive:
- St. Mary’s Parish
- Norfolk Milk Committee
- Canadian Red Cross Society
- Haldimand-Norfolk Cultural Association
Richard has received a number of honours that reflect the respect he has earned to build a better and stronger rural and agricultural community. They include the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award and a Honourary Life Membership from the Ontario Institute of Agrologists.
The Norfolk Federation of Agriculture wrote, “Richard has always believed in the value of trying to make a difference and he has.”
Click through the gallery below for photographs of 2015 Agricultural Hall of Fame inductee Richard Walker.