Energy on the Christian B. Snyder and Joseph Snyder Farm and the Waterloo North CSD, North Waterloo, Ontario

Figure 1a. Joseph B. Snyder and two oxen pulling stumps on Lot 63, CA MAO Digital 94, Mennonite Archives of Ontario. Used with permission. Joseph B. was given the easternmost section of Lot 63 (217 acres) by his father Christian B. Note: the oxen appear to be hauling cordwood or lumber, not pulling stumps, in this photo.

The Snyder farm in Ontario’s Waterloo North region is an example of a large and highly productive Mixed Animal Husbandry Agroecosystem with Extensive Family Labour Supplies. In 1871, Christian B. Snyder (b. 1824/d.1897) was head of the Snyder farm on Lot 63, German Company Tract.[1] Christian B. was married to Barbara Bauman (b. 1825/d.1914), and the couple had 10 children.[2] Christian B.’s grandfather and grandmother (“Old” Christian Schneider and Elizabeth Erb), both born in Pennsylvania, had immigrated with other Mennonite settlers to Waterloo Township, Ontario, in 1806. “Old” Christian acquired Lots 42, 63, and 83 in the northern part of the German Company Tract; however, his first homesteading was done on land in the southern part of the Tract near Doon.[3] By 1807, “Old” Christian had erected a two-story log house in the Doon area.[4] “Old” Christian’s son Joseph (b. 1796/d. 1874), who was Christian B.’s father, built a two-story log house on Lot 63, in 1839.[5] It was 40 feet by 44 feet, two stories, and made of logs 8 inches by 24 inches, all hand hewn.[6] This is the same land subsequently occupied by Christian B. Snyder and his family in 1871, which the census enumerator reported to be 440 acres (178 ha).[7] Schedule 3 of the 1871 census shows that Christian B.’s total land in the Dominion, however, was 659 acres (267 ha).[8] This additional 219 acre (88 ha) parcel or parcels would not have been located in the same census division as the 440 acres he occupied, but they were probably close by.

At the time of the 1871 census, Christian B.’s father Joseph still lived on Lot 63, but in a separate house with his second wife, Catherine Snyder (nee Weicker). Joseph also reported a few livestock in the census: therefore, for the purposes of this farm energy analysis Christian B.’s livestock numbers are rolled together with his father’s smaller herds. Christian B. eventually divided his land into three farms. In 1872, the eastern section (217 acres or 88 ha) was given to his son Joseph B. (who appears in Figure 1a). Joseph B. (b.1854/ d.1938) drew elm, basswood, oak, cherry, and pine from the woods of his farm, fully cleared 100 acres of woodland, and sold many hundreds of cords of wood to local mills. Sixteen years later, in 1888, Christian B. gave the central section of his farm (80 acres or 32 ha) to his son Franklin. That same year, 1888, he gave the western section with the old buildings (148 acres or 60 ha) to his daughter Lovina and her husband Israel B. Gingrich.[9] This is the same year that Lovina and Israel were married.[10] Christian, Barbara, and their youngest son Jared lived with Lovina and Israel, and by 1890 it was a three generation household again with the arrival of baby Helinda.[11] Thus, over the course of 82 years since the arrival of “Old” Christian and his wife Elizabeth from Pennsylvania, Lot 63 had changed hands between family members three times and had been divided into three farms.

Figure 1b. Christian B. Snyder and Barbara Snyder (nee Bauman). The couple were married in 1848. Photograph credit: Gingrich family, Waterloo. Used with permission.
Figure 1c. Location of Lot 63, German Company Tract. 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 1d. Google Map of Waterloo North with red pin marking Lot 63.

Farm Energy Funds

Christian B. Snyder’s 178 hectare parcel was 46 percent cleared in 1871 which was 20 percent less than the amount of land cleared by other farmers in Waterloo North (66 percent cleared). Perhaps this was because Lot 63 was in the northern reaches of the German Company Tract which was developed later than the southern region. This means Snyder had a greater percentage of woodland (54 percent) available on his 178 ha than did the Waterloo North CSD (33 percent), and it reinforces the narrative that Christian B.’s son Joseph began to clear 100 acres (40 ha) after receiving his 217 acre share of the farm in 1872. In 1871, Christian B. divided his cleared or improved portion of his 178 acres (80.9 ha), into the following four divisions and proportions: 59 percent crops, 20 percent pasture, 17 percent hay land, and four percent gardens or orchards. For the Waterloo North CSD, however, land use was 64 percent in crops, 13 percent pasture, 19 percent hay, and 4 percent gardens or orchards. The Waterloo North CSD also had a very small amount (.2 percent) in dyked marshland, most likely along the Grand River. Therefore, proportionately, Snyder’s 178 hectare farm had more woodland and pastureland, but less hayland and cropland, than their neighbours in Waterloo North. The average-sized farm in the district was 36.5 ha, or only about 20.5 percent of Snyder’s 178 ha farm.[12] Therefore, we assume that Christian B. Snyder’s farm was one of the largest farms in the Waterloo North CSD in 1871. It may be that because the patriarch “Old” Christian had purchased three lots in the northern part of the German Company Tract but had left them for future development while he lived in the southern region of Doon, Lot 63 was not as developed, nor had it yet been divided amongst the first Mennonite settlers’ descendants, as were other farms in the CSD.

Figure 2a. Area Visualization of Christian B. Snyder’s farm in 1871 showing his two parcels of land (266 ha) combined. The 88 ha parcel that was outside his specific division (but was probably in one of North Waterloo’s other three divisions) is in light grey, and the 178 ha that was part of his division is represented by the coloured polygons. Fifty-four percent of the farm’s 178 ha parcel was unimproved, meaning it was in woodland. The remaining 46 percent was in pasture, hay, crops, and orchards or gardens. Given that the 178 ha farm was five times the size of the average farm in the Waterloo North CSD, and despite his large woodlot, Snyder had ample cleared land for his livestock and crops.
Figure 2b. Area Visualization of all 425 farms in the Waterloo North CSD, North Waterloo, Ontario. Proportionately, Waterloo North had significantly less woodland available (20 percent less) of its agroecosystem than did the Christian B. Snyder farm. Moreover, 64 percent of the CSD’s improved land was in crops, with the remaining 36 percent in pasture, hay, garden and orchard. A very small amount (.2 percent) was dyked marshland.

The Snyder farm’s livestock intensity was 15.2 livestock units per km2 (LU/km2) on their 178 ha parcel, and the grazing intensity was 2.04 ruminant units per ha of pasture. This was lower than the Waterloo North CSD which had a very high livestock density of 28.2 LU/km2 and 2.19 ruminants per ha of pasture. The Snyders had 100 cords of firewood on hand in 1871 (50 per household), compared to the 7,530 cords of firewood produced in the Waterloo North CSD, which averaged to 18 cords of firewood per farm. One can assume that when Christian B.’s son Joseph cleared 40 ha of woodland and sold hundreds of cords of wood to local mills (after he received his 217 acre share of the farm in 1872), he was following in his father’s footsteps (Figure 1a). Perhaps, Christian B. had sold large quantities of cordwood to local mills before his son Joseph took up the wood business.

Farm Energy Flows

The Snyder farm is one of the few in the Farm Energy Profile project that produced more energy from a human edible crop (wheat) than from feed crops. In 1871, the Snyders produced 250 bushels (bu) of spring wheat, 100 bu of fall wheat, 170 bu of barley, 600 bu of oats, 280 bu of peas, 360 bu of potatoes, 2,500 bu of turnips, 3 bu of mangel-wurtzel, 1,500 bu of carrots, 90 bu apples, 4 bu plums, pears, or other fruit, 4 bu of grass or clover seed, and 800 pounds of maple sugar. The Waterloo North CSD grew the same crops, plus rye, corn, grapes, and small quantities of rye, beans, buckwheat, hops, and tobacco. Waterloo North farmers produced 56,621 pounds of maple sugar, or 133 pounds per farm. Snyder’s 800 pounds of maple sugar indicates that he was using his woodland in more ways than drawing out wood to be sold to local mills. He also benefited greatly from the annual flow of maple sugar coming from his woodland.

In terms of energy flows from fodder, the Snyder farm consumed much larger amounts of feed than the average farm in Waterloo North. However, their mix of pasture, hay, and residues was quite similar to the township’s, proportionally. The Snyder farm’s residues were 4.26 times greater than the average farm in the Waterloo North CSD. However, when considering that Synder’s 178 ha farm was roughly five times the size of the average farm in the Waterloo North CSD, there is not a great difference in residues proportionally. The Snyder farm and the Waterloo North CSD also had very similar ratios of pastureland to hayland. Additionally, both reused 100 percent of their biomass (see figures 4a and 4b).

In 1871, Christian B. and his father Joseph Snyder reported having five horses over three years old, three colts or fillies, four working oxen, 14 milk cows, 19 horned cattle, 80 sheep, and three swine. They also produced 1,000 pounds of butter, 100 pounds of cheese, 300 pounds of wool, and 300 yards of homemade cloth or flannel. Given the 300 pounds of wool that was on hand, his homemade cloth was probably wool flannel. They slaughtered or sold for export two swine, six cattle and 20 sheep. The Snyder farm exceeded the average farm in Waterloo North in all of these categories, except swine. The average farm in the Waterloo North CSD had six or seven swine and slaughtered or sold for export five or six. Snyder’s most notable farm productions were, perhaps, his butter and cloth. Whereas Snyder had 1,000 pounds of butter, the average farm in the Waterloo North CSD had 270, and, whereas he had 300 yards of cloth, the average farm had 4.5. In fact, Snyder’s 300 yards of cloth represented 16 percent of the 1,886 yards of cloth reported for the Waterloo North CSD. It may be that he had a small enterprise on his farm for wool flannel production. Farms in Waterloo North also reported producing honey and linen, where Snyder did not.

Both the Snyder farm and the Waterloo North CSD had feed and litter deficits. In terms of total energy deficits, Snyder’s animals were short by 1,065,484 MJ of feed and 334,866 MJ of litter. Figures 3a and 3b do not include peas in the feed balance, so it is likely that a tenth of Snyder’s feed deficit was satisfied by the farm’s pea harvest. The average farm in the Waterloo North CSD had only about a 290,177 MJ feed deficit and an 86,299 MJ litter deficit. The feed and litter deficits on Snyder’s much larger farm were 3.67 and 3.88 times greater than the average-sized farm in the Waterloo North CSD. Given that his farm was roughly five times the size of the average farm in the Waterloo North CSD, his feed and litter deficit was proportionally not as large. Snyder’s butter, cheese, wheat, maple sugar, cordwood, meat products, and cloth must have brought him enough cash to pay for his shortfall in feed and litter.


Christian B. and his father Joseph Snyder’s farm was five times larger than the average farm in the Waterloo North CSD. Fifty-four percent of their 178 ha farm was unimproved, or in woodland. This gave him the opportunity to develop a farm energy strategy that diverged slightly from the Waterloo North CSD. He made good use of his sizable woodlands by supplying cordwood to local mills and by tapping the annual flow of maple sugar. He had moderate dairy production, producing milk, butter, and cheese. He also had wheat, cloth, and meat products to sell from his farm. Noticeably, although he had a much larger farm he had far less swine proportionally than the Waterloo North CSD in 1871. This helped to keep his livestock numbers low, resulting in a lower livestock intensity than the Waterloo North CSD. Because of his lower livestock numbers, proportionally his feed and litter deficit was not as great as the average farm in the Waterloo North CSD. Snyder’s approach and farming strategy made extensive use of his woodlands while at the same time keeping his livestock numbers low and focussing on ruminants that supported his dairy and cloth production.

Figure 6a.”Old” Christian Schneider’s home was built about 1807. The house was situated in Beihn’s Tract, Unnumbered Lots, Doon, Waterloo County, Ontario. The Kitchener Public Library has the original photo.
Figure 6b. This plaque honours “Old” Christian Snyder who immigrated to Waterloo, Ontario, from Pennsylvania in the first years of the nineteenth century and his son Joseph who built a two-storey home from hand-hewn logs drawn from the land of Lot 63 where the Snyder farm was situated. In 1972, the log house was taken down, log by log, and moved to St. Jacobs Farmers Market. Because many of the logs were rotten, the new structure is much smaller and only one-storey. The original house was over 3,500 square feet. The Gingrich connection comes from Israel B. Gingrich who married Joseph’s granddaughter Lovina. The couple lived in the house with Lovina’s parents, Christian B. Snyder, his wife Barbara Snyder (nee Bauman), and their youngest son, Lovina’s brother Jared, probably from 1888, the year that Lovina and Israel were married.

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[1] “Christian B. Snyder,” 1871 Census of Canada, RG31, C-9944, LAC.

[2] “Christian B. Snyder,” Christian Schneider, Waterloo Region Generation, The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding,

The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding actually lists 12 children, but it appears that two of the children who are listed are repeated.

[3] Ellis Little, “Snyder’s Corner: The History of G.C.T. Lot 63,” Waterloo Historical Society, Vol. 90 (2002): 21.

[4] “Christian Schneider,” Waterloo Region Generations.

[5] “Joseph Schneider,” Joseph Schneider, Waterloo Region Generations, The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding,

The Waterloo Region Generations website notes that the plaque is erected on a one-story log structure located at St. Jacob’s Farmers Market but the logs were moved from a two-story log house built on German Company Tract Lot 63 by Joseph Schneider.

[6] Little, Snyder’s Corner, 24.

[7] Historians have concluded that his main farm was actually 448 acres. Little, Snyder’s Corner, 25. The German Company Tract, some 60,000 acres, was divided into sections of 448 acres each. Therefore, each of “Old” Christian’s Lots, 42, 63, and 83, were 448 acres. The 1871 Census of Canada indicates that Christian B.’s father Joseph, who the enumerator put down as a Gentleman, was living nearby his son when the census was taken. He was listed as a tenant living with his second wife Catherine Snyder (nee Weicker). Catherine was from Germany and was 57 years old.

[8] “Christian B. Snyder,” 1871, LAC. Schedule 3 also lists three dwelling houses, three barns or stables, four carriages and sleighs, eight cars, wagons, or sleds, five ploughs or cultivators, three fanning mills, and one each of reapers or mowers, horse rakes, and thrashing machines.

[9] “Christian B. Snyder,” Waterloo Region Generations. These numbers–217, 80, and 148–do not add up to either the 440 acres reported by the enumerator when the 1871 Census of Canada was taken, nor do they add up to the 448 acres that historians agree was the size of Lot 63.

[10] “Lancaster, Pennsylvania, U.S., Mennonite Vital Records, 1750-2014,” s.v “Israel B. Gingrich,”

[11] Helinda was one and a half years old in 1891. “Christian B. Snyder,” 1891 Census of Canada, RG31-C-1, T-6374, LAC.

[12] The average farm in Waterloo North was only 13.5 percent the size of Snyder’s much larger 266 hectares of land (including the additional 88 ha he had that was situated on a neighbouring division).

Energy on the Thomas Maltais Farm and Jonquière, Chicoutimi, Québec

Figure 1a The farm of Jean Maltais (circa 1906). Jean was the eldest son of Thomas Maltais whose 1871 Census of Canada farm energy profile we highlight in this piece. Jean and his younger brother Louis inherited their father and mother’s farm in Jonquière, Chicoutimi, Québec. The two brothers, Monsieurs Jean and Louis Maltais, won the gold medal in Quebec’s 1899 Concours Provincial de Mérite Agricole–the 1899 Agricultural Merit Contest. Photo used with permission. McCord Museum View-4076.

The Maltais Farm in Québec’s Chicoutimi Region is an example of a Livestock-Focussed Farm with Grain Surplus. Thomas Maltais (b.1833/ d.1890) reported owning 300 arpents, or 102.6 ha, within the Jonquière census subdivision (CSD) in 1871.[1] He also owned an additional 140 arpents (47.9 ha) outside the Jonquière CSD. He had two houses, eight barns, stables, or outbuildings, three sleighs or summer carriages, five wagons, five plows, one threshing machine, and one crib.[2] Thomas and his wife Hermine (b. 1835/d. 1917) had five children in 1871: three daughters, Georgiana, Marguerite, and Philomene, who were 16, 15, and 13 years old respectively, and two sons, Jean, 11, and Louis, ten. They also had a young man, Jean Brapard, age 20, living on the farm. Given the genders and ages of the Maltais children, Jean Brapard was probably working as a farmhand to help Thomas get some of the heavier farm work done. The two brothers, Jean and Louis, farmed the land together after their father’s death in 1890, and they won the gold medal in Quebec’s 1899 Concours Provincial de Mérite Agricole–the 1899 Agricultural Merit Contest. In 1881, Georgiana was still living on the farm, along with her brothers Jean and Louis, Jean’s wife Philomene, and the couple’s child Thomas who was two months old.[3] The year 1891 found the family diminished due to father Thomas’s death in 1890.[4] However, the third generation was quickly expanding with seven grandchildren between the two young families.[5] By then, Jean, Louis, and their families were listed as separate households situated next to each other, and their mother, Hermine, aged 57, was living with Louis and his family. Ten years later, in 1901, Jean and Louis, still listed as separate households situated next to each other, were farming 94 ha together. Each had his own house and outbuildings. Jean’s house had eight rooms, and he had four barns, stables, or other outbuildings. Louis’s holdings were smaller. He had a five-room house and two barns, stables, or other outbuildings.[6]

Figure 1b Thomas Maltais (b. 1833/d. 1890). Photo from Ancestry Family Trees,

The judges of the 1899 Concours Provincial de Mérite Agricole awarded Jean and Louis 92.0 points (out of a possible 100), winning them the gold medal. The next highest score was 91.90. The judges noted that, in general, the cultivation methods of the Maltais brothers did not exceed other farmers. They worked their fields on a five-year rotation. In the first year, a field was sown with cereal along with clover and millet. Years two and three saw the same field in hay, and in years four and five the field was used as pasture. What made the Maltais farm stand out was its orderliness, cleanliness, and the thoughtful consideration given to farm management. In particular, the judges noted the care the Maltais brothers put into preserving the legacy left to them by their parents, Thomas and Hermine. 

Figure 1c. Lots 19 and 20 of Range V in the Jonquiere CSD comprised Thomas Maltais’s farm. Both lots were on the River Sable which is a tributary of the Saguenay River. George N. Tackabury. Tackbury’s Atlas of the Dominion of Canada. Montreal: George N. Tackabury, 1876,

Figure 1d: Google Map of Jonquière.

Farm Energy Funds

Thomas Maltais’s 102.6 hectare farm was 100 percent improved (or cleared) in 1871. We don’t know about the development of his 47.9 ha parcel located outside the Jonquière CSD. It may have been improved, may have been in woodland, or may have been a combination of improved land and woodland. For contrast, the Jonquière CSD itself was only 38.8 percent improved in 1871. The Concours Provincial de Mérite judges felt that the Maltais’s land use was typical by 1899, but three decades earlier it was clearly much more advanced than other farms in Jonquière Thomas’s 102.6 ha was also over three times larger than the average farm (32.7 ha) in the Jonquière CSD. Maltais kept horses, oxen, milk cows, other horned cattle, sheep, and swine–the same farm animals reported for the Jonquiere CSD. However, he had approximately four times more animals, no matter the species, on his home farm than other farmers in the Jonquière CSD had on theirs. His focus was on ruminants with 25 bovines and 31 sheep. 

Looking again at Thomas Maltais’s 102.6 ha, he had substantially more land in pasture and hay than did the average-sized farm in the Jonquière CSD. His pasture land was 17.1 ha and his hayland was 6.8 ha, whereas the average-sized Jonquière farm had 4 ha of pasture land and only .7 ha of hayland. The livestock intensity of Thomas Maltais’s 102.6 ha was 16.8 livestock units (LU) per km2, and his farm’s grazing intensity was 1.28 ruminant units per ha of pasture. For the Jonquière CSD it was 9.3 LU/km2 and 1.04 ruminants per ha of pasture. Thomas Maltais had 21 cords of firewood on hand, whereas the average-sized farm in the Jonquière CSD had 43 cords. With two houses to heat, Maltais would have needed more wood than a farm with only one. Likely much of his 47.9 ha parcel was woodland, and this is where he came by his wood. However, with limited farm labour on hand in 1871, the family may have harvested on a neighbour’s property or crown land, or even purchased some of their firewood already cut into lengths. Figure 2b shows that other Jonquière farmers possessed a huge woodland fund (up to 4,222 ha).

Figure 2a. Area Visualization of Thomas Maltais’s farm in 1871 showing his two parcels of land (150.5 ha) combined. The 47.9 ha that was outside the Jonquière CSD is in light grey. We do not know if the 47.9 ha was improved land, woodland, or a combination of both. Of his 102.6 ha of improved land that we know about (the coloured polygons), most was used for crops: wheat, barley, oats, peas, and potatoes. Thomas Maltais’s energy strategy was weighted toward peas and grains. The five-year crop rotation meritoriously mentioned by the 1899 Concours de Merite Agricole judges when Thomas’s sons Jean and Louis were farming was not the practice of Thomas 28 years earlier, in 1871.
Figure 2b. Area Visualization of the Jonquière CSD, Chicoutimi, Quebec, in 1871. Noteworthy here is that the occupied land was 52.7 percent of the total agroecosystem and that of the occupied land, 32.8 percent was improved. Of the improved land, approximately 55 percent was in crops, leaving the remaining 45 percent for pasture and hay. Hay production was a relatively small share of total land use in Jonquière. In many ways, Thomas Maltais’s farm (see figure 2a) was far more developed than the Jonquiere CSD in which it was situated.

Farm Energy Flows

In 1871, the Thomas Maltais farm produced 348 bu of spring wheat, 41 bu of barley, 1,011 bu of oats, 211 bu of peas, and 218 bu of potatoes. The Jonquière CSD produced the same crops, plus fall wheat, rye, beans, buckwheat, corn, turnips, flax, hemp, and tobacco.

The Maltais farm had over three times the amount of land in crops (78.3 ha) as he did fodder (23.9 ha). In the larger Jonquière CSD, these two land uses were roughly equal in size. Both areas reused virtually all of their fodder (Figures 4a and 4b) and at least two-thirds of their grains (72% on the Maltais farm). Maltais’s large concentration of ruminant livestock meant that he still had a feed deficit of 664,114 MJ. Figures 3a and 3b do not include peas in the feed balance, so it is likely that a tenth of his deficit was satisfied by the farm’s pea harvest. Due to the large amount of straw available from Maltais’s oat and wheat crops his litter deficit was zero. In contrast the Jonquière CSD’s feed deficit was 53,052,435 MJ and the litter deficit was 11,677,115 MJ. However, those deficits were relatively small per farm (276,314 MJ feed per farm and 60,818 MJ litter per farm). In the case of Maltais, who had abundant crops, including, for example, 1,011 bu oats–a significant cash crop–it would have been relatively easy to cover the cost of bringing in hay to cover any feed deficit. There is also the possibility that some of his additional property (47.9 ha) was in hay (and/or pasture) which could have addressed the Maltais farm’s bovine feed deficit in particular.

In 1871, Thomas Maltais reported having one horse over the age of three, one colt or filly, four working oxen, nine milk cows, eight swine, 13 other horned cattle, and 31 sheep. He slaughtered three cattle, 14 swine, and 16 sheep and produced 500 pounds of butter and 80 pounds of wool. This was more butter than his family would need, so there must have been gate sales of butter from the farm, and the same could be true of milk. The average farm in Jonquière CSD had, as did Thomas Maltais, one adult horse. Beyond this category, the Maltais farm surpassed the average farm in Jonquière on every count. The average-sized farm in Jonquière had .2 colts or fillies, .2 working oxen, 2.5 milk cows, 2.6 swine, 2.4 other horned cattle, 6.4 sheep; slaughtered .4 cattle, 2.5 swine, and .25 sheep; and produced 42.5 pounds of butter and 14 pounds of wool. In energetic terms, the Thomas Maltais farm’s animal products greatly exceeded the average producer in the Jonquière CSD. For example, the energy of Maltais’s butter and milk combined was 41,506 MJ. The same combination for the Jonquière CSD was 1,965,733 MJ or 10,238 MJ for the average-sized farm. This is because Thomas had nine milk cows compared to the 2.5 of the average-sized farm. Whereas, in 1871, the Thomas Maltais farm produced no hand-made flannel or linen (yet 80 pounds of wool had been produced), the average-sized farm in the Jonquière CSD produced 21 yards of home-made flannel and six yards of linen. It may be that the 80 pounds of wool produced on the Maltais farm were sold to a local textile mill. Although the Maltais farm did not have textiles on hand in 1871, this changed over time: the judges of the 1899 Concours Provincial de Mérite Agricole noted that Jean and Louis’s 20 ewes provided enough wool for homemade fabrics needed to satisfy their families, suggesting that they were producing wool flannel in 1899.


In 1871, Thomas Maltais’s farm was very prosperous compared to the average farm in the Jonquière CSD. He hired a farmhand, Jean Brapard, to assist with farm labour. His wife, Hermine, and his older children, daughters Georgiana, Marguerite, and Philomene, probably also got work done on the farm, possibly milking and churning butter. His sons Jean and Louis, who were eleven and 10 at the time would have had farm chores. Not only did Thomas Maltais have two parcels of land that were 150.5 ha in size combined, but he also had eight barns, stables, and other outbuildings, plus carriages, farm wagons, plows and other farm equipment on his land. The Jonquière CSD does not list a dairy in the industrial schedules of the 1871 census, meaning there was no large dairy operation with more than five employees in the area. There may, however, have been small dairy operations to which Maltais transported his milk, perhaps on a weekly basis. Thomas Maltais’s energy strategy was to put over 70 percent of his improved land in crops–spring wheat, barley, oats, peas, and potatoes–of which the surplus could be sold for a profit. The grain crops produced large amounts of straw which is why the Maltais farm’s litter deficit was zero. Excess litter would have been another farm production that Maltais could sell. After meeting the demands of his own livestock, Maltais’s crops would have been exported to urban centres for consumption. The wheat and potatoes were for human consumption, but the oats and litter would have helped to meet the demands of urban horses.[7] A highly successful farmer, Thomas Maltais was not only raising crops for his family’s and local consumption, but also for profit.

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[1] “Thomas Maltais,” 1871 Canada Census, RG31, C-10349, Library and Archives Canada (LAC).

[2] Whereas schedule 1 of the 1871 Canada Census lists the land a person occupies within the CSD in which he or she resides, schedule 3 lists all the land a person owns in the Dominion of Canada. Thomas Maltais reported 300 arpents (102.6 ha) on schedule 1, but 440 arpents (150.5 ha) in schedule 3. Therefore, the difference (47.9 ha) had to be outside the Jonquiere CSD, but it  was probably close by to his farm. Schedule 3 is also where houses, barns, plows, and other farm implements were reported.

[3] “Thomas Maltais,” 1881 Canada Census, C-13208, LAC. Jean’s wife’s first name was the same as Thomas and Hermine’s daughter who was no longer listed as living on the farm.

[4] Thomas Maltais,” Ancestry Family Tree,

[5] “Jean Maltais” and “Louis Maltais,” 1891 Canada Census, T-6391, LAC. Jean and Philomene had five children: Maria, eight, Lya, seven, Alice, four, Luce, two, and Francois, five months old. Louis was also married by this time to Magdeleine, and the couple had two children, Rose-Anna, five, and Elie, one.

[6] “Jean Maltais,” and “Louis Maltais,” 1901 Canada Census, T-6518, LAC.

[7] Clay  McShane and Joel A. Tarr, Horse in the City: Living Machines in the Nineteenth Century (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2011), 129.

Energy on the Philip Maher Farm and Windsor, Richmond, Quebec

Figure 1a. George J. Maher (b. 1861/d. unknown) and (we assume) his wife Olivia Gertrude Maher (nee Roy). George was the son of Philip Maher whose 1871 Canada Census profile we use for the Maher farm energy profile. The obituary of George’s son, George Jr., gives the name of his mother, Olivia Maher. See note 9 below. Photograph from Ancestry Family Trees,

The Maher farm in Ontario’s Windsor County is an example of a Timber Extraction Enterprise with Supporting Livestock and Hay. In the 1871 Census of Canada, Philip Maher (b. 1832/ d. 1907) was reported as a tenant on a 40 acre (16.2 ha) farm. However, schedule 3 of the same census indicates that Philip owned 400 acres (161.8 ha) outside the division within Windsor in which the farm he occupied as a tenant was situated. These 161.8 ha were likely located nearby to where he and his family lived, and he was probably using them for timber extraction. The enumerator put him down as a lumberman, not a farmer nor cultivator. When combined, Philip’s two parcels of land totaled 178 ha. The 16.2 ha that Philip occupied was small compared to the average-sized farm (41.8 ha) of the Windsor census subdivision (CSD) in which it was located. However, when combined with his larger 161.2 ha parcel, the resulting 178 ha unit was 4.25 times the size of the average farm in the Windsor CSD. Philip’s parents, James Maher and Mary Ann Maher (nee Quigley) were both born in Ireland.[1] Philip, however, was born in Quebec, as were his two wives, both Quebecois, and all his children.[2] Sometime before 1853, Philip married Marie Ann Lemaitre dit Duhaime and they had six children, George (b. 1861/ d.unknown) being the eldest son. Philip’s second wife was Mary Julie Millette, and the couple had five children.[3] Philip emigrated to Penobscot, Maine, USA, in 1886, and naturalized in 1892.[4] He was accompanied by Julie, but it is unclear how many of his children made the move with them. His eldest son George was 25 years old at the time, and he had been reported as a clerk five years earlier when the 1881 census had been taken.[5]

Figure 1b. Photograph (circa 1910) of the Canada Paper Company’s paper mill in Windsor, whose main road passes through the mill yard. The St. Francis Mill is in the background.  Eastern Townships Resource Centre, P020 E.T. Heritage Foundation fonds.

Over the course of 20 years (and three Canada censuses, 1861, 1871, and 1881), Philip’s occupation changed, he became more heavily involved in forestry, and he and his family moved to new localities within the region. In 1861, Philip was a cultivator in Ontario’s Durham County; in 1871, a lumberman in Quebec’s Windsor County; and, in 1881, a timber merchant in Quebec’s Southward County. Philip was a very large firewood producer, reporting 21,500 cords of firewood in the 1871 census when he was located in Windsor. Some of these 21,500 cords were probably extracted from the 161.8 ha of land he reported as owning. However, given the large amount, it is also probable that much of it came from other lands and that he was stockpiling the wood. Philip’s son George may have kept the books for his father Philip’s forestry-based business. Perhaps they were selling cordwood via railway to Montreal customers? Indeed, Philip frequented Montreal’s Albion Hotel, staying there every two to three weeks in the late 1870s and early 1880s, which suggests recurring business trips.[7] A decision in an 1878 Montreal court case showed Philip unscrupulous in an attempt to get land, probably for access to timber.[6] It may also be that the cordwood (no matter how he came by it) was sold to Windsor Mills, a pulp mill in the area that was owned by the Canada Paper Company (Figure 1b). Philip passed at 74 years of age in Maine, USA, and was put down as a lumberman in his death record.[8] His son George, who at some point had also moved to the United States, entered Canada in 1919 and, as reported in the 1921 Census of Canada, was working in Campbellton, New Brunswick, as the manager of a pulp company.[9] Fifty years previous to George’s entry to Canada (in 1871), George’s father Philip had been the “head” of a three-generational family: George was 11 years old at the time, and Philip’s father James who lived with them was 72. James, who was reported to be a farmer in the census, was probably farming the 16.2 ha occupied by his son Philip, and Philip, reported to be a lumberman, was working in forestry. Thus, within three generations, the work of the family had moved from farming, to a mix of farming and forestry, to the management of a forestry-based pulp and paper company. However, our energy profile of this operation illustrates the role of a farm during one year, 1871, of a life spent in wood.

Figure 1c. George N. Tackabury. Tackbury’s Atlas of the Dominion of Canada. Montreal: George N. Tackabury, 1876,

Figure 1d. Google Satellite Image of Windsor CSD and surrounding area.

Farm Energy Funds

In 1871, Philip Maher’s 16.2 ha of occupied land was one hundred percent cleared and virtually all dedicated to hay. However, because we do not know about the 161.8 ha that he owned outside the census division in which the 16.2 ha was located, we cannot ascertain how much of this second parcel was cleared. Nevertheless, we assume Philip was timbering the 161.8 ha and that when it was cleared of forest, he would sell it, perhaps to a settler recently arrived and in want of land.

Figure 2a. Area Visualization of Philip Maher’s 178 ha in 1871. Note that we have combined his two parcels to create this visualization. The green rectangle represents Maher’s hay. His .1 ha of orchard or gardens and his .1 ha of potatoes are barely visible. His developed land is 9.3 percent of the total available land, leaving 90.7 for his timbering work. Because he is not focussed on farming but, instead, on timbering, the area visualization does not look at all like that of a productive farm. Still, it is revealing that when Maher had a modest parcel of improved farmland, he dedicated the entirety of it to hay.
Figure 2b. Area visualization of all the farms in the Windsor CSD, Richmond, Quebec. This visualization contrasts strikingly with Maher’s visualization (as seen in Figure 2a). These farms are more developed than Maher’s, having hay, pasture, crops, and woodland. However, the farms are still largely undeveloped with 3,146.8 ha, or 63.3 percent in woodland, and 1,825 ha, or 36.7 percent, in hay, pasture, and crops. Moreover, the Windsor CSD as a whole is still largely undeveloped, with 4972 ha, or 30 percent, of the total land available in farms. The remaining 70 percent, though undeveloped, was still usable. It may be that citizens used the undeveloped available land as a vast woodland from whence to draw logs, for hunting, and for fishing.

Philip Maher did not have many animals, at least not on his home farm. He reported having one horse, two swine, three milk cows, and 12 sheep. The draught horses and/or oxen he would have needed in order to extract the cordwood from his 161.8 ha, plus these animals’ feed and litter, must have been reported by another person, perhaps a business partner or the owner of a company Maher was doing the work for, such as a pulp mill. Maher’s livestock intensity was 2.6 animals per km2. The absence of any pasture suggests that Philip’s farm animals loafed in a barn with internal divisions for his horse, swine, milk cows, and sheep. There may have been small paddocks adjacent to a barn for them, as well. The Windsor CSD’s livestock intensity was 4.1 animals per km2 and the grazing intensity was 0.73 ruminants per ha of pasture. Maher’s woodland, we suspect, was the 161.8 ha previously mentioned. The average-sized farm in the Windsor CSD had 26.44 ha of woodland. Maher reported a small garden that was .1 ha in size which is the same size of a garden or orchard for the average-sized farm in the Windsor CSD. Maher did not report any fruit products, so it is plausible that all of this .1 ha was vegetables.

Farm Energy Flows

Philip Maher had three crops, namely potatoes for his family and a small amount of turnips and mangel-wurtzel for his animals, probably his milchers who would benefit from an enriched diet. Conversely, crops grown in the Windsor CSD displayed a much greater variety. Farmers grew turnips (instead of mangels), potatoes, oats, barley, wheat, carrots and other root vegetables, tobacco, peas, apples and other fruits, turnips, beans, rye, buckwheat, and corn.

Maher had no pasture whatsoever, whereas the Windsor CSD had 709 ha of pasture, or approximately 6 ha of pasture per farm, when averaged. Maher had 16 ha in hay, which was 2.8 times greater than the average farm that had 5.7 ha in hay. The Windsor CSD had 677 ha in hay, overall. Maher’s feed deficit was 12,572 MJ, which would have been for the few animals housed on the 16.2 ha he occupied. In contrast, the feed deficit for the Windsor CSD was 15,372,774 MJ, or 129,183 MJ per farm. It may be that by keeping his number of animals low and by putting all his cleared land in hay, rather than combining it with pasture, he had a relatively low feed deficit. The mangels he grew would have supplemented the hay with roots throughout the winter. The remaining feed deficit could have been easily met by bringing in feed from elsewhere. The feed deficit of the average farm in Windsor CSD (129,183 MJ ) was ten times larger than Maher’s.

In 1871, the Philip Maher farm produced more slaughtered meat, except for mutton, and more butter and wool, than the average farm in the Windsor CSD. Maher reported slaughtering two cattle and two swine, and producing 300 pounds of butter and 50 pounds of wool. For the Windsor CSD, the average farmer slaughtered 1.2 cows, 4.1 sheep, and 1.3 swine per farm. The Windsor CSD also had 23,683 pounds of butter and 2,581 pounds of wool, which is 199 pounds of butter and 21.7 pounds of wool per farm. The Windsor CSD additionally produced 1,200 pounds of homemade cheese, 1,502 pounds of honey, 1,935 yards of homemade cloth or flannel, and 16,073 pounds of maple sugar. Maher’s reported 21,500 cords of firewood was 83.67 percent of the total 25,694 cords of firewood reported by the entire Windsor CSD. The average Windsor farm produced approximately 36 cords of firewood, which is more than the average household needed for cooking and warmth. Farmers could sell their surplus firewood to those in the area who needed it–professionals, such as teachers and lawyers, who may not have lived on farms. They may have also shipped their surplus wood via railway to supply Montreal with firewood, sold it to nearby pulp mills, or sold it to timber suppliers such as Philip Maher.


The Windsor CSD had poorer agricultural land than did townships located closer to the St. Lawrence River. This may be why the Windsor CSD was relatively undeveloped at the time the 1871 Census of Canada was taken. Philip Maher may have realized that because of poor soils farming in the area would never provide more than subsistence living. Montreal, an urban centre located approximately 100 km away by rail, was in need of firewood for cooking, heating, and industry and Maher may have set about to meet that need by providing firewood from his 161.8 ha of land. He may also have been supplying wood to local pulp mills. According to testimony given during a court case between the Canada Paper Company and the British American Land Company that took place May 26, 1882 stumpage was worth about $.20 cents per cord.[10] Maher’s 21,500 cords listed on his 1871 census return would have been worth, by 1882 prices, $4,300. Moreover, if one acre (.4 ha) of forest yields approximately 20 cords of wood, then Maher’s 21,500 cords represented 1,025 acres of deforested land. Finally, Maher’s 161.8 ha would have produced 8,000 cords, 13,500 less than he reported. Therefore, Maher must have had tickets to clear other tracts of land but was stockpiling the cordwood on his 161.8 ha parcel. Maher does not report any oxen or draught horses on his 16.2 ha. Thus, he must have outsourced this element of his forestry business. By keeping the number of his farm animals low, doing away with pasture entirely, and putting all his cleared land in hay, he was able to keep his feed deficit low. Being situated near a railway not only made it relatively easy to transport firewood, but it also made it relatively easy to acquire any grains needed to satisfy his animals’ feed deficits. Whereas a family farm provides a place to put down roots and for generations to live on overtime, the business of forest extraction does not necessarily offer the same advantage. As Maher moved from farming into the timber business, first as a lumberman, and later as a timber merchant, he and his family moved to new locations as stands of forest were cut and Maher sought new forests to exploit. Eventually, he moved his family to the State of Maine, just across the border from where he had conducted his Canadian business. Given that he had been in trouble with the law in 1878 over an unscrupulous acquisition of land (see note 6), one wonders if he left Canada, not only to continue and expand in forestry, but to leave the court’s jurisdiction and, thereby, avoid legal altercations.

Figure 6a. Map of the area showing railways in 1870, including the Grand Trunk Railway branch that passed through Richmond. Note the close proximity of Windsor to Montreal.

Figure 6b. Snip from “Hotel Arrivals,” Gazette, (Montreal, Que.), June 12, 1879. Philip Maher frequented Montreal’s Albion Hotel. It may be that he did business there. On this date, Philip and son George, both noted to be from Sherbrooke, are staying at the hotel.
Figure 6c. “Tenders for Fuel,” Gazette (Montreal, Que.), June 14, 1975. There was a market for firewood in Montreal. This advertisement is for coal and firewood for Montreal’s Court House and Gaol (Jail). In addition to 700 tons of steam coal, 275 cords of maple and birch (in equal measure), and 50 cords of tamarac were put out to tender. Having a mix of wood types in a wood pile was common because it helped to control the burn.

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[1] “Philip Maher,” Maine, U.S., Death Records, 1761-1907, The death certificate form asks for the name and nationality of the parents of the deceased person.

[2] “Philip Maher,” 1881 Census of Canada, RG31, C-13199, Library and Archives Canada (LAC). Philip’s first wife Marie Anne Lemaitre dit Duhaime’s birth record confirms that she is Quebecois. See “Marie Anne Lematire Dite Duheme,” Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967, s.v. “Marie Anne Lemaitre dit Duhaime,” Philip’s second wife Jane is listed as French in the 1871 Canada Census. See “Philip Maher,” 1871, LAC.

[3] “Philip Maher,” Ancestry Family Trees,

[4] “Philip Maher,” U.S. Naturalization Record Indexes, 1791-1992,”

[5] “Philip Maher,” 1871, LAC. George eventually married a Quebecois woman, Eva (Olivia), but in 1886, when his father Philip left for Penobscot, she would only have been 13 years old. See “George Maher,” Sixth Census of Canada, 1921, RG 31, Folder 34, Census Place 34, Restigouche and Madawaska, page 30, George and Eva (Olivia) had two children, Margaret born in 1902 and George Jr. born in 1908.

[6] “Superior Court — Judgements,” Montreal, April 12, 1878,” Gazette (Montreal, Que.), May 2, 1878. In his search for land to timber, Philip Maher may have been unscrupulous. In the court case Henry Alymer vs Philip Maher, et al, he was found guilty by Judge Johnson of trying to defraud General (Henry) Alymer of Bath, England, of several lots and parts of lots in the Townships of Melbourne, Brompton, and Cleveland. Maher was in cahoots with Henry Alymer Jr. who had “sold” him the land sans any exchange of money without the knowledge of the General. Judge Johnson cancelled the nefarious deed of sale and ascribed costs to the two defendants.

[7] “Hotel Arrivals,” Gazette, (Montreal, Que.), June 12, 1879. Philip Maher frequented The Albion Hotel in the late 1870s and early 1880s. On this particular date both father and son, Philip and George Maher (indicted by the Gazette to be from Sherbrooke), were staying at the hotel.

[8] “Philip Maher,” Maine Death Records,

[9] “George Maher, Jr.,” Sixth Census of Canada, 1921, The note that George Maher Jr. entered Canada in 1919 when he was 11 years old only comes up on his particular file. We assume that because of his young age, he arrived in Canada at the same time as the rest of the family. George’s obituary places him in Millinocket, Maine, USA at the time of his death. He was Director of the Public Works Department, and had been working there for 30 years. His wife, who survived him, was Jeannette. His parents were George and Olivia Maher (nee Roy). See “George Maher,” Death and Funerals, Bangor News, (Maine), August 19, 1976.

[10]  “Legal Intelligence,” Gazette (Montreal, Que.), May 26, 1882.

Energy on the John Orser Farm and Alnwick, Northumberland County, Ontario

Figure 1a. Terminus of the Cobourg & Peterborough Railroad at Harwood, Ontario, 1865. Cobourg and District Images collection of the Cobourg Public Library. Used with permission. Note the stacked cordwood on the dock that was fuel for the steamships plying Rice Lake. Click to enlarge.

The Orser Farm in Ontario’s Northumberland County is an example of a Forest Product Farm with Supporting Livestock and Crops. John Orser (b. 1808/ d. 1877) reported owning 220.5 acres, or 89.2 hectares, on “Orser’s Island, Rice Lake,” in 1871.[1] Orser’s Island was likely an early name for what is now White’s Island. Orser married Lucy Ann White April 1, 1836.[2] By 1871, the couple had four children: William age 29, David age 27, Martha age 24, and Gilbert age 22. A fifth child, 11-year-old Lucy White whom they had adopted, also lived with them.[3] Lucy was the daughter of Lucy Ann’s brother George White and George’s wife Marabah (nee Sickles).[4] Lucy was, therefore, Lucy Ann’s niece.[5] Her parents George and Marabah had recently relocated to Wiikwemikong on Manitoulin Island. The move was likely because particularly harsh weather of 1866 resulted in crop failures, and they chose Manitoulin in part because Maribah had band membership.[6] However, whereas John and Lucy Ann’s children were all in their 20s by 1871, George and Marabah’s children were all young (Figure 1b).[7] It may be that George and Marabah did not have enough help on the farm for it to be productive. After a few years at Wiikwemikong, George and Marabah relocated to Ten Mile Point, Manitoulin Island, and George timbered cedar and tamarack from the surrounding area. He supplied many of the squared railway ties for the Algoma Eastern Railway.[8]

Figure 1b. Maribah (nee Sickles) and George White and their sons Darius who is standing and William Norman who is sitting on his mother’s lap. This photograph, ca. 1866, is attributed to the Ten Mile Point Collection, courtesy of Harry Robbins. Ancestry Family Trees,

The focus of this profile is on John and Lucy Ann Orser, the family that remained on Orser’s (White’s) Island. Like his brother-in-law, John mixed farming and forestry. In 1871, he reported 200 census standard pine logs, 20 census standard spruce or other logs, and 200 cords of firewood. This was the largest amount of logs and firewood reported by a landowner in Alnwick, in 1871.[9] Orser likely sold the firewood as fuel for the small steamships that plied Rice Lake (Figure 1a). It may be that he supplied cord wood to Zack (Zaccheus) White, his wife Lucy Ann’s cousin, to fuel Zack’s steamship The Firefly.[10] Orser also reported in the 1871 census that he owned two town building lots, two houses, three barns or stables, two cars, wagons, or sleds, five ploughs or cultivators, one thrashing machine, one fanning mill, and four of his own boats (described by the census only as pleasure or common boats).

Figure 1c. Clip showing location of White’s Island, previously Orser’s Island, Township of Alnwick. 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 1d. Google Map of Alnwick, Northumberland County, Ontario.

Farm Energy Funds*

At 89.2 ha, John Orser’s farm was more than double the average-sized farm in Alnwick (41.7 ha). As well, 77 percent of Orser’s land was cleared, compared to 40 percent of the Alnwick Census Subdivision (CSD). Additionally, his farm had five times more land in pasture and hay (37.2 ha) than did the average farm in the Alnwick CSD (7.3 ha). The livestock consuming these resources amounted to 23.4 units per square kilometer (LU/km2), with a grazing intensity of .66 ruminant units per hectare of pasture. In contrast, the Alnwick CSD contained 16.2 LU/km2 and a grazing intensity of 1.09 ruminants per hectare of pasture. Orser’s grazing intensity was a little lower than another Eastern Ontario farm profiled here (see the Yuill farm in Lanark County). This suggests that the island’s pastures, like the Yuill farm, were less productive than pastures in other parts of the country.

Figure 2a. Area Visualization of John Orser’s farm, in 1871. Note that approximately 23 percent (20.4 ha) of his land was either woodland or unimproved land and that approximately 30 percent (27.1 ha) was in pasture,11 percent (10.1 ha) in hay, and less than one percent (0.6 ha) in orchard and garden, leaving approximately 35 percent (30.8 ha) in potatoes, wheat and other crops. Clearly, Orser’s focus was on pasture and hay for his herd.
Figure 2b. Area Visualization of all the farms in Alnwick CSD, West Northumberland, Ontario. Approximately 35 percent of the land was either woodland or unimproved land, 23 percent was pasture, hay, orchard and gardens, or marsh, and 42 percent was potatoes, wheat, or other crops. This is a contrast to the Orser farm that had more land in pasture and hay but less land in woodland and unimproved land, as well as less land in potatoes, wheat, and other crops.

Farm Energy Flows*

With his relatively large wood production, Orser’s farm was an example of agri-forestry. In contrast to Orser’s 200 cords of firewood, the Alnwick CSD had 4,846 cords, or approximately 24 cords of firewood per farm. The wood he produced almost certainly came from forests beyond his own 20 hectares on the island. The Alnwick CSD contained another 2,364 hectares of woodland on farm holdings alone, plus a good deal of forest in non-agricultural holdings. In winter, when Rice Lake was frozen and men turned their attention to work in the woodlands, it was relatively easy to transport wood over ice by sleigh pulled by oxen or draught horses.

Both Orser and the greater Alnwick CSD had feed and litter deficits. In terms of energy, Orser’s feed deficit was 567,772 MJ and his litter deficit was 148,583 MJ. For the Alnwick CSD, it was 38,442,555 MJ and 10,786,178 MJ respectively, which was a 194,154 MJ feed deficit and a 54,476 MJ litter deficit per farm. Both Orser’s farm and the Alnwick CSD had residues from fodder crops and pasture, but the deficits meant that Orser and his neighbours had to bring in feed and litter to satisfy the requirements of their livestock. The railway that terminated at Harwood, which was just south-west of Orser’s, or White’s, Island plus the steamboats that plied Rice Lake, must have transported feed and litter to the Alnwick area, as well as transported farm products from Alnwick to larger centres.

In 1871, John Orser’s farm produced 180 bu spring wheat, 150 bu fall wheat, 100 bu oats, 300 bu peas, 200 bu potatoes, and 6 bu pears, plums, and other fruit. He also had two beehives. The Alnwick CSD produced the same crops, plus farmers from the area reported barley, rye, beans, buckwheat, corn, turnips, mangel-wurtzel, carrots, and other root crops. There were 34 beehives reported in total, which was approximately one hive for every six farms.

In 1871, Orser reported having two horses over three years old, six oxen, two milchers, fourteen other horned cattle, twelve sheep, and six swine. He slaughtered four each of cattle, sheep, and swine. He had 200 pounds of butter and 50 pounds of wool. For each of these categories the Orser farm exceeded the average farm in the Alnwick CSD. Most  notable was the number of livestock Orser had compared to the average farm in the area. For example, where Orser had six oxen, the average farm had .61 of an ox, and where Orser had 14 other horned cattle, the average farm had 3.62. The energy of the 12 animals Orser slaughtered (four each of cattle, swine, and sheep) was 8,200 MJ. In contrast, the energy of slaughtered cattle, swine, and sheep for the Alnwick CDS was 1,128,800 MJ, which averaged 5,701 MJ per farm.


John Orser’s farm was large and prosperous compared to the average farm in the Alnwick CSD. His adult children–three sons, William, David, and Gilbert, plus his daughter Martha and adopted daughter Lucy–provided labour on the farm. His sons must have also assisted Orser with the forestry that he undertook in winter. The six oxen kept by Orser, which amounted to three teams of two, allowed Orser and his sons to draw logs out of the forest and transport them to the Orser farm for storage. Although the 1871 Canada Census does not distinguish the breeds of any livestock, it may be that the two horses over the age of three reported by Orser were draught horses and that, therefore, they constituted a fourth team. By having pasture, hay, and other vital feed for his livestock, such as oats for his horses, and peas for his oxen, Orser’s farm supported his wintertime work in forestry.

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

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[1] “John Orser,” 1871 Canada Census, RG31, C-9984, Library and Archives Canada (LAC), Ottawa.The enumerator noted that Orser was located on Orser Island, Rice Lake. The largest island in Rice Lake, White’s Island is approximately 99 ha. Possibly, ten hectares of White’s Island was owned by another person.

[2] “John Orser,” Ontario, Canada, Marriages, 1785-1935,

[3] “John Orser,” 1871, LAC.The enumerator also noted that Lucy White was an adopted child.

[4] “Maribah Sickles,” Ancestry Family Trees,

[5] “George White,” 1861 Canada Census, C-1054, LAC. In 1861, George and Marabah White had four children, all girls. One-year-old Lucy was the youngest.  George’s mother and father, Martha and David, aged 66 and 77 respectively, were also living with them. Martha died about the time the census was taken, and David died in 1865.

[6] Michelle Caesar, “White family history letter a delight to read,” Manitoulin Express, June 27, 2018, The 1871 Canada Census for Alnwick shows that there were many Indigenous people (designated “Indian”) enumerated as well as settlers whose origins were put down by the enumerator as, for example, Scotch, Dutch, and English. Wiikewemkong is a First Nation located on Manitoulin Island. It is unceded territory. The enumerator also noted in schedule 3 of the 1871 census that one farm located in the same division as the John Orser farm had suffered from crop failure.

[7] “White,” 1861, LAC; and “George White,” 1881 Canada Census, C-13281, LAC. George White and his family are missing from the 1871 Canada Census, possibly because they were located on Wiikwemikong at the time. However, by combining the results of the 1861 and 1881 censuses, it is apparent that George and Marabah had several children by 1866, the eldest, Martha, was aged 13, and the youngest, William Norman was aged one. Marabah’s widowed father William Sickles was living with them in 1881 at the age of 90.

[8] Ibid.

[9] “John Orser,” 1871, LAC.

[10] Mary Jane Muskratte Simpson, “The Story of a Lake,” A History of the Rice Lake Indians,, An investigation using databases linked to shows that Lucy Ann and her brother George were descended from David G. White (b. 1784/ d. 1865) and that Zaccheus was descended from David’s younger brother Joseph C. White (b. 1786/ d. 1850). Both David and Joseph were born in the United States but had immigrated to Alnwick in the early nineteenth century. databases also indicate that Zack White was a “mariner.” See “Zacheus White,” Ontario, Canada, Deaths and Deaths Overseas, 1869-1948, databases further show that Zack White’s father, also named Zaccheus, was involved in forestry. He is put down on his son Zack’s birth registration as a “lumber merchant.” See “Zacchens Ostrum,” Ontario, Canada Births, 1832-1915. s.v. “Zaccheus White,” Zack’s mother’s maiden name was Ostrum. There has obviously been trouble transcribing this database so that some items are misspelled and others appear on the wrong line.

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.”