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Interview with the Murray family

Diane Murray grew up on the McKay family farm on Lot 13 Concession 3 where her father Arthur McKay and her mother Margaret farmed about 100 tillable acres of the 200 acre parcel. While the patent was granted to James McKay for this property in 1846 research indicates that they settled there as early as 1832. Diane remembers that they had hay, grain, a potato field, apple orchard, chickens, cows, pigs, sheep, and horses on the farm. Diane and her husband Bill returned to the family farm and started keeping bees for commercial purposes in 1988. Bill discusses the challenges to honey producers that have been imported to Canada such as American foulbrood disease, pests and mites. Their son Peter moved to the original farm house with his wife Leanne Prins in 2014. He helps out his father with the business and hopes that their children will grow up to be good stewards of the land.

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

As you grew older there were more responsibilities, feeding in the barn, helping with milking, rounding up cows for milking and bringing in wood.

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Diane and Bill Murray pose for a family photograph with their grandchildren.

2017-0366 Murray Family fonds

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I started in a commercial way about 1988 and got a few stores and got a wee bit of a business there… I initially started with about forty hives and I am up to about 230 right now. 

Bill is checking on the activity of the bees.

2017-0366 Murray Family fonds

All the diseases other than American foulbrood, diseases, pests and mites have come in from offshore, shall we say, and those have been quite challenging, but they have also made us better bee keepers.

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Bill has invested in a new building and equipment for his honey business.

2017-0366 Murray Family fonds

 

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I have a few smaller grocery stores and the odd little convenience store but the large end of my business is the big chains.

Wearing protection, Bill loads the truck surrounded by honey bees.

2017-0366 Murray Family fonds

How long will I carry on? Some days I am looking at getting to the end of the day. Other times I will just go on for a few years yet. I have enjoyed it immensely.

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Bee keepers calm the bees with smoke while working on the hives.

2017-0366 Murray Family fonds

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I remember watching my grandfather who used to carry square bales out to the feeder, one bale on a fork that was slung over his shoulder carrying another one in his hand.

Arthur McKay (Diane Murray's father) with work horse 'Rosie' at the McKay farm.

2017-0366 Murray Family fonds

Certainly from where we live you could see the neighbours' farm and the next neighbouring farm and you could see everybody doing their haying or the processing of their haying.

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Aerial view of the McKay Family Farm Lot 13 Concession 3 of McNab/Braeside Township circa 1980

2017-0366 Murray Family fonds

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There is a history of many generations so I guess I am looking at it as a bit of a blessing and a bit of a burden at the same time that comes with something like this farm we have.

The McKay brothers (left to right): Neil, Lawrence, Gordon and Arthur circa 1935.

2017-0366 Murray Family fonds

I do really like seeing the kids interact with the chickens as we have them and the opportunity to just go out and pick strawberries from the garden. That's a pretty nice thing to watch kids do.

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Peter Murray and Leanne Prins enjoy teaching their children about farming and where their food comes from.

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Looking Back

1912 newspaper article reports on the proceedings of the South Renfrew Farmers Institute where bee keeping was discussed. 

A page from the McKay family album showing the original farm house and barn in 1951 and Diane with father Arthur McKay and mother Margaret McKay.