100 Year Farm Family Recipient – Pelletier Farm

Sturgeon County farmer finds links to ancestors

Dan Pelletier discovers a connection to his ancestors nearly every spring when he seeds his crops. More often than not, the Sturgeon County farmer pulls a metal ring or two off of his seed drill shanks during spring seeding—artifacts that fell in the field during his relatives’ time about 100 years ago.

“My dad told me that these rings are from the horses in the old days,” said Pelletier. The rings—which are about two to three inches wide—periodically fell from the horses’ collars as they worked the fields. “It’s always a piece of history when you pick up something like that on your seed drill. You look at it and go, ‘Wow, this has been in the field for like 100 years. It is quite amazing.

“You throw it in your toolbox and it gives you a little piece of history.” Those vintage pieces symbolize a chain of events that began when Pelletier’s great grandfather, Joseph Ouellet, purchased a quarter of land a few kilometres southeast of Legal on Aug. 11, 1922.

“He was born in Quebec and came west to buy this fertile land he was hearing so much about,” said Pelletier

This summer the family celebrated a century of ownership of that original property—a feat acknowledged by Sturgeon County’s 100 Year Farm Family Award, an honour given to families who have continually owned and farmed land in the municipality.

Over the years, the original land passed from his great grandfather to great uncle, Amable Ouellet, to his father, Maurice Pelletier (and mother Frances), and eventually to Pelletier and his wife, Michelle, in 1989.

Today, Pelletier grows wheat and canola on 1,500 acres with his younger brother, Mark and wife, Francis, along with his 88-year-old father, who still climbs into the combine regularly to help out. Pelletier’s son and his brother’s sons also pitch in as needed during busy times.

“It’s nice to have the family involved … and be able to make a living on the land. We [don’t] need to hire anybody. It’s nice to keep it in the family.“We’re proud to be the fourth generation family to own the property.”

Pelletier suspects his relatives would be amazed at the changes in farming over the years. “They did a lot of work to get this land into farming ability. I can’t even imagine how much work it took to get this [state]. You can only clear so much land in those days with horses and dynamite and stuff like that and then you’re still trying to make a living … I’m sure it was a difficult process.”

Every year still brings its own challenges to the farming business—drought, hail, and other issues—many of which are unpredictable. Pelletier appreciates the foresight of his ancestors in choosing to make Sturgeon County’s fertile land home. “We had a really good year in farming the last year,” said Pelletier, noting the timely spring rains and warm autumn combined to bring about a successful harvest. He’s quick to point out the strong work ethnic his father continues to impress upon him.

“[Farming] is a good job to have, it’s enjoyable. I like doing it. As you can see by my dad, he’s still doing it. We definitely enjoy being on the farm and in the country.” Experiencing wildlife is another perk living in Sturgeon County. “You get to see a lot of different animals when you’re farming,” said Pelletier who has spotted deer, muskrats, skunks, and coyotes on his land. “It’s quite enjoyable to see those kinds of things.”

A fire advisory is in effect for Sturgeon County due to high temperatures and lack of precipitation.

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