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Interview with Jane and Jim McGregor of McGregor's Produce

The McGregor family farm in Lochwinnoch is located along the Locha Creek on Lot 25 Concession 9. Steve and Noreen McGregor switched from dairy cattle to raising beef cattle to support their family of six daughters and one son in the mid 1950's.  Growing up on the farm, everyone had chores to do, from bringing in the wood to preparing meals for the men at harvest time. As Jim stated, “Our father instilled the value of taking on work as a challenge or anything that came up as a challenge and didn’t look on it in a negative way but in a positive way”. As Jane recalled, she and her sisters were quite pleased when their brother Jim decided to come back to Lochwinnoch in 1977 to try his hand at growing sweet corn. By diversifying and adapting to changing markets McGregor's Produce has expanded from the original 200 acres to 1000 acres since it was established in 1979. Jim credits the “buy local” movement and using offshore labour as part of their success. McGregor’s Produce is a joint venture between Jim and Ann, their son Ian and his wife Debra and son Cameron and his wife Mandy.  Currently, they employ about 24 offshore labourers from Jamaica and approximately 30 students to staff the market stalls around the Ottawa Valley.

The McGregor farm was called Glen Roy Farm when it was settled by Jane and Jim’s great-grandfather Robert McGregor of Beckwith along with his brother John and their sister Mary. They put up the first log building in 1856 followed by a log barn and a log shed. In the 1880’s they built a large bank barn and in 1912 their grandfather James Alexander McGregor built a large horse stable to hold 12 horses. The limestone house where Ian and Debra now live was built between 1884 and 1886. They are the fifth generation of McGregor's to make a living off the land there.

For more information on McGregor's Produce, visit their website: http://www.mcgregorsproduce.com/

Click here to view an abstract from the Renfrew County land records.

My great grandfather Robert died in 1920 and he held onto the farm until he was basically on his death bed and he turned it over to my grandfather who had been working on the farm for quite a few years.

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Robert & John McGregor and their sister Mary established Glen Roy farm in Lochwinnoch in 1856.

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I remember Grandma working in what we called the cookhouse. It was the place where we did all the cooking in the summer time for the men when they were coming to harvest or plant crops.

James Alexander McGregor and Annie Stevenson were married at Stevenson's Corners on September 11 1912.

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Jane McGregor is inspired by the women in her family and has written a book about their lives.

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All three generations were working on the farm. We were trained early.

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Cover page of family history book compiled by Jane McGregor shows five generations in McNab/Braeside.

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In 1948 Dad and Uncle Robert, his brother, built the first tractor out of two old trucks. They put the two transmissions together so they could slow it down slow enough.  It ploughed about twenty acres that fall and it broke.  That was the end of that.

Steve McGregor on the homemade tractor circa 1950

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By '79 it was the first year we formed the business McGregors Produce. My sister Ann worked for me. She was just eighteen years old at that time so it was a summer job for her, and my wife Ann and I, along with our parents, all helped to kind of start the produce business. That's when we started stand in Arnprior that year. That was the beginning of the produce business.

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Jim and Ann (nee Denniston) McGregor

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Mother gave me a book in about 1977 that was called Growing for Market... inside that book there was a statement made that has stuck with me. He said grow what you can sell; don't sell what you can grow.

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In 2006 we started hiring offshore labour.

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Off-shore labour has helped McGregor's Produce to operate successfully since 2006.

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We would all get together as a family, and for a day or two before the strawberry festival which we held on a Saturday, and Mom did a lot of the prep work so we could just come in make the strawberry desserts.

Noreen McGregor (nee McCallum) raised six girls and one boy with her husband Steve on the farm in Lochwinnoch.

Jane took this lovely photograph on her 80th birthday.

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We try to extend our growing season through most of the summer.

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In 2002 Ian and Deb came back to the farm, and they wanted to farm. So we had to expand the farm.

McGregor's Produce is a joint venture between Ian, Megan, Ann, Jim, Debra and Cameron McGregor

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In 1980 the interest rate was twenty per cent and it was difficult making money on the farm, but now that we have bought into the buy local movement and producing for that, it has helped us a lot.

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Entrance to the farm at 351 Lochwinnoch Road.

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Looking Back

 Mrs. Robert McGregor (nee Janet Gilmour Stewart) feeds the chickens at Glen Roy Farm circa 1900

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Mrs. Robert McGregor's obituary 1938. Janet Gilmour Stewart married Robert McGregor in 1864.