Energy on the Yuill Farms and Ramsay CSD, Lanark, Ontario

The Yuill farms in Lanark County are an example of a livestock intensive energy strategy in the Upper Ottawa Valley agroecosystem.  Joseph Yuill (b. 1838 / d. 1905) is listed in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography as a farmer, breeder, butter producer and educator.[1]  Joseph Yuill’s father, Alexander, emigrated with his parents and siblings from Glasgow to Ramsay Township in Lanark County in 1821, as part of a government-supported scheme to relocate Scots to aid industrial relief at home.[2]  Although the quality of land in Lanark County was often poor and settlers were continually petitioning for better land, neighbour William Dowrie found his land “excellent” and found his situation much improved over life in Scotland.[3] 

The Yuills seem to have prospered, however, and were well-represented on the maps of Ramsay township in 1863 and 1880 (Figures 1a and 1b).  Alexander Yuill settled on 200 acres on lot 9, concession 6 (7th Line Road), approximately 3 miles NW of Carlteon Place, and by the time of the 1871 census, had given 100 acres to son Joseph and his wife Margaret.[4] The farms were located along the southern edge of a wetland called Wolf Grove on both contemporary maps, and known today as the Wolf Grove Wetland Complex, owned in part by Nature Conservancy of Canada.[5] The farms were bounded and likely intersected in places by Ramsay Creek (now Wolf Grove Creek), which flowed down to the town of Almonte in the Lowlands subwatershed of Ontario’s Mississippi River.

Figure 1a – Clip of Ramsay Township. Note “A. Youll” at centre of map. O. W. Gray. Map of the Counties of Lanark and Renfrew, Canada West, from Actual Surveys under the Direction of H. F. Walling. Prescott, C. W. (Ontario): D. P. Putnam, 1863,
Figure 1b – Clip of Ramsay Township. Illustrated Atlas of the Dominion of Canada, Containing All the Provinces, the Northwest Territories and the Island of Newfoundland. Toronto: H. Belden & Co., 1880. The Canadian County Atlas Digital Project,

Figure 1c. Google Map of Ramsay CSD, Lanark, Ontario.

Figure 1c – Advertisement, The Ottawa Citizen, 30 November 1898. Source:

As early as 1868, Joseph and Margaret started breeding Ayrshires; as he reported to the Ontario Agricultural Commission in 1880[6]:

“If the Ayrshire does not bring as much for beef, it costs less in proportion to feed them than the Durham.  If going into cattle feeding for market, I would prefer the Galloways or Polled Angus. They are thriftier animals for our bare pastures in summer, and hardier in winter. … against the native stock, the Ayrshires would be better for milk by one-third.  The skim milk is very good for raising calves.”

The Yuills entered their Ayshires at local and provincial Agricultural Fairs, eventually winning prizes at the World Fair in Chicago in 1893. Joseph wrote articles for agricultural journals and became President of the Dominion Ayshire Breeders Association from 1891 to 1893.[7]   By the 1890s, Joseph and Margaret expanded into education with a “traveling dairy” that included demonstrations on butter churning and talks on farming, [8] and by the late 1890s Ottawa businesses were advertising Yuill “Choice Table Butter” (Figure 1c).

At the time of the 1871 census, though, Joseph and Margaret were in the early stages of building their herd, and they still shared farming responsibilities with father Alex. All farm products were reported against Alex’s 100 acres, although they would have shared the farms’ production. This profile considers both farms together.

Farm Energy Funds*

In 1871, Alex Yuill and son Joseph farmed 200 acres or 81 hectares, whereas the average farm in Ramsay Township was 51.5 ha.  Of this total, 70 percent (57 ha) had been cleared. Of the cleared land, 18.6 ha were given over to pasture, and they reported 0.2 ha of gardens.

Figures 2a and 2b: Agroecosystem Land Use for the Alex and Joseph Yuill farms and the Ramsay Census Subdivision. The Yuills had a greater proportion of land cleared and in pasture and hay than the county average.

Jointly they reported 2 horses, 6 milk cows, 15 other horned cattle, 32 sheep and 5 swine, resulting in a livestock density ratio of 22.3 (livestock units per km2), slightly higher than the livestock density ratio of 16.1 for the district. With an emphasis on building their Ayrshire herd, the Yuills had both a larger quantity and higher quality of cattle than the average Ramsay farm.  The average number of ruminants grazing the pasture was the same for the Yuills as the district as a whole, at .82 livestock units per hectare (LUr/ha); however, if the milchers were purebred Ayrshires, we should also assume that they were receiving an enriched feed supply and producing significantly higher levels of milk than the standard yields estimated in AMPA. As Yuill stated in 1880 (see above), he expected a 33 percent higher milk output from their Ayrshires.

Farm Energy Flows*

The Yuills reported 53 acres (21.5 ha) of hay over the two farms, producing 50 tons of hay or .9 tons per acre. The district average of 15 acres (6.1 ha) of hay per farm, with a similar production of .8 tons of hay per acre, was significantly less. This hay yield is among the lower rates in Canada, but what Alex and Joseph lacked in quality they made up in quantities of hay and lower grazing intensity on their pastures. These land use strategies partly explain why they did not require residues for feed as the average farmer in the CSD would have (Figure 3b).

Although the majority of their lands were dedicated to hay and pasture for their cattle and sheep, the main farm also grew a relatively diverse output of crops: oats, wheat, and peas as well as smaller vegetable, potato, and barley crops.  Fifty-eight percent of the grains and crop biomass was reused for feed and litter, although that would be higher if one considers peas as a livestock feed, as a certain proportion almost certainly was.  Ramsay township as a whole had very similar energy flows in both crop production and feed and litter demands. The main difference, as the charts show above, was that other Ramsay farmers likely used more crop residues as fodder to meet those feed demands.

The Yuills produced approximately 46,000 MJ of energy from meat (cattle, sheep, and swine), and dairy products (butter and cheese) which was higher than the Ramsay average of 32,000 MJ per farm but comparable given their relative acreage.  More than half of this energy was milk.  Their flows were consistent with the district as a whole, although the Yuills generated more energy from cattle as they were starting to develop their business in Ayrshire breeding.

Given the wool industry of Lanark county, the Yuills reported a typical amount of wool production (200lbs) but no home-made cloth and flannel. Margaret Yuill apparently often helped with shearing and processing wool, but as her obituary explained (Figure 6), the presence of textile mills such as The Rosamond Woolen Company in Almonte created nearby markets for their wool.[9] As farmers and cattle breeders, the Yuills did not apparently use their woodlot beyond personal use in the two households, reporting 20 cords of firewood for both households, well below the household average of 34 cords per farm in Ramsay. Ramsay farmers’ average firewood outputs were higher than national averages because of the commercial opportunities the steamship waterways of Eastern Ontario provided to petit producers.


Figure 6 – Extract from The Ottawa Citizen, 22 May 1936.  Source:

The Yuill farms were consistent in energy strategy with Ramsay township as a whole in 1871, showing the initial inputs required to develop a prize Ayrshire herd and reputation for butter production. 

Unfortunately, Joseph Yuill’s sons showed less interest in maintaining their parents’ prize Ayrshire herd: after his father’s death in 1905, son Alexander sold the herd[10] but Andrew continued to farm some of the property.[11] Margaret would remain active in the community until her death in 1936.

“Meadowside” was later purchased by Alan and Betty Thompson, who by the 1970s were providing farm vacations on their property to supplement the farm income.[12]  Today’s Google Maps shows a patchwork of fields and woodlots, and a nearby nursery business at Ramsay Creek, which once ran through the Yuill farms.

* For an explanation of terms in this profile, see the farm energy profiles project home page.

[1] S. Lynn Campbell and Susan L. Bennett, “YUILL, JOSEPH,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 13, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed July 19, 2021,

[2] Reid, Richard M. Upper Ottawa Valley to 1855. Montréal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1990. p. xxv.

[3] Reid, p. 22

[4] “Joseph Yuil”, 1871 Census of Canada, C-10018, Gatineau, QC: Library and Archives Canada.

[5] “Webber Woods of Wolf Grove Trails,” Ontario Nature Trails, Jun 12, 2019

[6] Ontario, Agricultural Commission, Report of the Commissioners, 1880 (C. B. Robinson, 1881), p. 264.

[7] Linda Seccaspina, “Notes on Alexander and Joseph Yuill.”

[8] Campbell & Bennett, Dictionary of Canadian Biography

[9] Richard Reid, “The Rosamond Woolen Company of Almonte: Industrial development in a rural setting,” Ontario History LXXV (September 1983): 266-89.

[10] Linda Seccaspina, “Farm Real Estate etc 1903-1908”,

[11] “Andrew Yuill”, 1921 Census of Canada. Source:

[12] Linda Seccaspina, “Alan and Betty Thompson Meadowside Farms 7th Line Ramsay.”

Energy on the Angus Fisher Russell Farm and Glenelg, Northumberland County, New Brunswick

Figure 1a.  David MacFadyen, Francis MacNaughton, and Frank (or Francis) “Grampie” Russell putting hay in the 1850s-built barn on the Russell farm, Glenelg, Northumberland County, New Brunswick, Canada, ca. 1969.
This photograph and those that follow are used with the permission of Russell and MacFadyen family members.
Figure 1b.  Angus Fisher Russell

The Russell Farm in New Brunswick’s Northumberland County is an example of a Farmer-Fisher Energy Strategy in a Plurioccupational Coastal Agroecosystem. Angus Fisher Russell (b.1821/d.1896) was reported by the census enumerator as both a farmer and a fisher living and working in Glenelg, Northumberland, New Brunswick, in 1871.[1] His 120 acre, or 48.6 ha, farm was situated on the Miramichi River close to Napan. He married Jane Urquhart of Rose Bank, New Brunswick, in 1850.[2] Jane, however, had been born in Prince Edward Island.[3] The couple had seven children.[4] Angus fished with his younger brother Robert who, in 1871, lived on a neighbouring farm with their widowed and aging father Francis. The enumerator put down Francis as the head of the household, and also as both a farmer and a fisher, although Robert must have done a large share of the farming and fishing work. Francis’s farm was also 48.6 ha. Believing that Angus, Robert, and their father made their livelihoods by working together, we have combined the two farms (97 ha) to create this energy profile.

Figure 1c. Google Map of Napan, Glenelg, New Brunswick.

Figure 1d.  Angus Fisher Russell’s farm located near Napan Bay, New Brunswick.
Clip of Crown Grant Reference Map provided by Service New Brunswick.
Note: this map contains information licensed under the Open Government License, New Brunswick. Crown Grant Reference Map. 1inch: 10 chains: 660 feet. Fredericton, N. B.: GeoNB, 1964,

Farm Energy Funds*

In 1871, only 22.3 ha (23%) of the Russell family’s 97 ha were improved or cleared, with the remaining in woodland. Of the improved land, 1.2 ha was pastureland, 3.6 ha was hayland, and 2.0 ha was salt or dyked marshland. The remaining 15.5 ha was cropland. The ratios of these different aspects of the farm–improved land, pastureland, hayland, and salt or dyked marshland–were similar to the greater Glenelg census subdivision (CSD) which totaled 12,123 ha of which 2,064.3 ha (17%) was improved. Of the improved land, 656.2 ha was hayland, 361.8 ha was pastureland, 53.2 ha was salt or dyked marshland, and 993.1 ha was cropland. The average amount of improved land for each farm in the Glenelg CSD was 10.02 ha, almost the exact same as each of the two Russell parcels. However, the size of the average farm in Glenelg was 58.85 ha, 10.25 ha larger than either of the Russell parcels. The Russell family had a combined 35 cords of firewood on hand, whereas the Glenelg CSD had 4,586, averaging 22 cords per farm.

Figure 2a. Area Visualization of the combined Francis and Angus Russell farms in 1871 showing approximately 80 percent in woodland. Of their improved land, the Russells put more emphasis on crops than on hay and pasture.
Figure 2b. Area Visualization of the Glenelg CSD, Northumberland, New Brunswick. The land use is similar to the Francis and Angus Russell farms, with 83 percent in woodland or unimproved land. A marked difference, however, is that the improved land of the Glenelg CSD was balanced between crops on the one hand and hay and pasture on the other.

The Russells reported having one horse over the age of three, one colt or filly, seven milk cows, five other horned cattle, 21 sheep, and seven swine. These were similar to the types of livestock reported by all farmers in the Glenelg CSD. The Russell farm’s livestock intensity was 13.5 livestock units per km2 (LU/kms), and their grazing intensity was also high at 8.19 ruminants per ha of pasture. For the Glenelg CSD it was 1.0 and .61 respectively. The Russells’ livestock created deficits in both feed and litter. To address this, we assume that their animals consumed all of their fodder crops and pasture, a large amount of the crop residues, as well as purchased feed and litter. In contrast, the average farm in the Glenelg CSD had feed to spare, including about 15% of their hay and pasture (Fig. 3b). Therefore, the Russells most likely purchased hay from neighbours to meet their livestocks’ feed and litter demand. They may also have forest-pastured their livestock for some of the year.

Farm Energy Flows*

That same year, 1871, the Russell family’s combined farms produced eight crops–one bushel of peas, four bushels of spring wheat, nine bushels of turnips, ten bushels of buckwheat, 14 bushels of barley, 186 bushels of oats, 615 bushels of potatoes, plus seven tons of hay. In addition to the crops reported by the Russells, other farmers in the Glenelg CSD reported beans, corn, mangel-wurtzel, and carrots. The Glenelg CSD reported 1,297.5 tons of hay. Given the 206 farms in the Glenelg CSD, the average farm produced 6.3 tons of hay. The Russell farms reinvested more grain and root crop biomass as feed and litter than did the Glenelg CSD.

In 1871, the Russell farm had more livestock and slaughtered or sold more livestock animals than the average farm in the Glenelg CSD. The Russel farm had one horse over the age of three, one colt or filly, seven milk cows, five other horned cattle, 21 sheep, and seven swine. The Glegelg CSD had 44 horses over three, 5 colts or fillies, 152 milk cows, 117 other horned cattle, 453 sheep, and 54 swine. Given that there were 206 farms in the Glenelg CSD, the average farm had .2 horses over three, .02 colts or fillies, .7 milk cows, .6 other horned cattle, 2.1 sheep, and .7 swine. As well, three cattle, five sheep, and four swine were butchered on (or sold from) the Russell family farm, 300 pounds of butter and 55 pounds of wool were produced, and there were 72 yards of homemade wool flannel on hand. In contrast, the Glenelg CSD butchered (or sold) 48 cattle, 151 sheep, and 83 swine, produced 6170 pounds of butter and 614 pounds of wool, and had 831 yards of homemade wool flannel on hand. This means the average farm in the Glenelg CSD slaughtered or sold .2 cattle, .7 sheep, and .4 swine, produced 30 pounds of butter and three pounds of wool, and had four yards of homemade wool flannel on hand. Clearly, the Russell farm had an advantage over the average farm in the Glenelg CSD because of its greater livestock numbers, especially its seven milk cows and 21 sheep that produced milk, butter, wool, and homemade wool flannel, productions that if not consumed or used by the family, could be sold.


Farmers and fishers, the Russell family not only successfully farmed their 97 ha, but they also accessed the funds of the Mirimichi River on which their land was situated. More of their land was improved than was the land of the average farm in the Glenelg CSD, and of their improved land, they put a greater emphasis on crops than on hay and pasture. They had more livestock than the average farm in the Glenelg CSD which translated to feed and litter deficits. However, the feed and litter deficits for their animals were probably met by purchasing hay from their neighbours who had hay surpluses. Russell reported in Schedule 8–Shipping and Fisheries–of the 1871 Census that he had two boats, 300 fathoms of nets and seines, six barrels of Gaspareaux, and eight barrels of salmon on hand. Although Angus Russell did not report on Schedule 8 for himself, his share of the Russell fishery was probably included in what his father reported. In 2021, the Angus Russell farm is owned by two of Francis and Angus Russell’s direct descendants, first cousins to David MacFadyen who appears in Figure 1a, and Gary MacFadyen who appears with his brother David in Figures 6a and 6b. The 1850s barn still stands, there are outbuildings, and there are three houses, with the most recent being built in 2020. The original house, lived in by Angus Fisher Russell and his family, is gone.

Figure 6a. David MacFadyen, Gary MacFadyen, Frank (or Francis) “Grampie” Russell, and Molly in front of the 1850s-built barn on the Russell farm, Glenelg, Northumberland County, New Brunswick, Canada, ca. 1959.
Figure 6b. Gary MacFadyen with his grandfather Francis Russell’s (b. 1899/d. 1970) scythe. It may be that the scythe was passed down to Francis by a member of a previous generation.

* For an explanation of terms in this profile, see the farm energy profiles project home page.

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[1] “Angus Rufsell,” 1871 Census of Canada, RG31, C-10390, Library and Archives Canada (LAC), Ottawa.

[2] “R. A. Russell,” New Brunswick, Canada, Deaths, 1888-1938, Volume No. 23, 423075, Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, Fredericton.

[3] Angus Russell,” 1891 Census of Canada, T-6302, LAC.

[4] “Angus Rufsell,” 1871, LAC.