John Boy Farms
In 1878, rumours that good fertile
farmland in the Red River Valley of Manitoba was available to anyone that was willing to work hard reached Alfred
Ouimet (Jean-Guy's great great grandfather) in Ste. Rose, Quebec Canada. The spirit of adventure that had brought
his ancestor from France in 1660 to establish himself on a farm in l'Ile d'Orlenes New France (now Quebec) was
growing in him. Engaged to a pretty Irish girl named Bridget Manning, he told her of his dream of going to
Manitoba. He would claim some land, build a house and come back for her.
True to his word, he was back in Quebec in September, 1879 and the two were married. They then
took a train and then ox cart to the bride's new home, a 12' X 14' two storey log house along the Red River
just south of Winnipeg. The picture on the left shows it still standing over 130 years later.
Alfred began to clear his land and grow mainly wheat, barley and oats which was typical of most farms at the time.
In 1909 (30 years after he first settled) he received an official grant for his land giving him true ownership of
the farm. In 1912 he decided that the farm needed more land in order to support him and his four sons and they
bought an additional river lot adjacent to their existing land. In 1915, Alfred died and his two sons John and
Alfred Jr. took over the two pieces of land and Farmed together until 1949 when Jean-Leon (Jean-Guy's
grandfather) bought his father's portion.
In the spring of 1950, Jean-Leon encountered great hardship as a result of the major flooding caused by
the Red River. He was forced to sell all his livestock consisting of 13 cattle, 2 pigs and
3 horses. When the devastation was over, all he could afford were 3 cows and one team of
horses. Although times were tough, he continued to farm grains, chickens, pigs and dairy
cows for many more years, raising a healthy family of 8 children, 18 grand-children and
many more great grand-children. Having left school at age 14 in order to manage the farm due to his father's
poor health, it's safe to say that Jean-Leon's hard work ethic, loyalty to family and strong faith
allowed him to leave a proud legacy for his family.
In 2006, Jean-Guy and his wife Ainsley bought the family farm from his grandfather and moved in. They
converted the farm from traditional grain production to a vegetable and livestock farm that uses sustainable
farming practices. Some of the land used for vegetable and beef production had not been farmed in a
number of year. Over time nature had slowly taken over some of the most productive areas and made
it difficult to farm without improvements.
After three years of hard work, Jean-Guy had cleared enough fence lines
and sufficiently prepared the soil to once again put the all the farmland into full
production. In 2009, he left his government job of 6 years to begin farming
fulltime. The spirit of adventure that had driven his great great grandfather to move to Manitoba so many
years earlier was still alive.
The Springs of 2009 and 2010 brought major flooding from the Red River and two of the wettest
summers on record. Although the farming was a challenge, Ainsley and Jean-Guy kept their faith
and with a lot of help from family, managed to make things work. Today, they continue to farm
vegetables and fruit, and continue to adapt to changing consumer trends as demand
for sustainably grown crops continues to grow.
It is Jean-Guy's hope that many more generations of his family will have the privilege of farming
the land just as he and the grandfathers before him have.