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Not Far From the Tree

4-H and One Family’s Strong Roots
by Kim Daynard

4-H taught me how to make healthy and tasty whole wheat and pumpernickel breads, properly replace a button, sew a pale yellow jersey shirt from a pattern (which instantly became a wardrobe favourite), and even change a tire.

I started to Learn To Do By Doing at 4-H when I was 14, in 1984, and continued up until I went to university. I have fond memories of 4-H—not only of learning, but learning with and from others. 4-H was a significant and positive influence on me while I was growing up on St. Joseph Island, Ontario. And it turns out that I didn’t fall far from the tree, so to speak.

My father, Harold Daynard, also started 4-H when he was 14. He and his younger brother, Albert, joined a 4-H club on St. Joseph Island that focused on forestry in 1955. This club ran during the summer time, and both brothers would walk a mile from their house to the Mountain Hall to learn how to identify trees and leaves from specimens.

Part of what my dad and uncle learned was how to plant and care for fir trees—and lots of them. That year, the two Daynard brothers planted hundreds, if not over a thousand, Jack pines, Scotch pines, and Spruce trees, all within the top 50 acres of a 200-acre farm.

Over the summer, the brothers cared for the trees, and at the end of the program, assessed their success. My dad was selected to attend the New Liskeard Fall Fair that year to take part in contest identifying foliage. All food and accommodation would be covered. This was quite an adventure for a 14-year old who hadn’t been much further than Sault Ste. Marie, which is the nearest city approximately 45 minutes by car.

Dad traveled with a few other young Islanders, under the supervision of one Harold Martin, but before he left, my grandfather slipped him a $5 bill, “just in case he needed it for anything.” My dad soon realized that the process, which he hadn’t understood at the outset, was to collect receipts and submit them for reimbursement after the trip. Indeed it was a good thing he had that extra money!    

When he arrived at the fair, sadly the forestry contest had been cancelled. Dad ended up being picked up by the St. Joseph Island beef and dairy teams and competing with them against at least a dozen other teams across Northern Ontario. And guess what? They won!

Last summer my parents, my brothers, their partners, and their children and I went back to St. Joseph Island as part of our annual family vacation. We went to the Mountain cemetery to pay our respects to loved and lost relatives. We drove through Hilton Beach to note how much things have changed since my brothers and I lived there with my parents many years ago. We went swimming at the WI Park and had a lovely lunch in Richards Landing. And we stopped to look at those magnificent trees—the towering pines that mark my dad’s childhood homestead and warmhearted memories made over 60 years ago—and thought about those deep roots.

Thank you, 4-H, for growing a family tradition.

 

Photo caption:  Harold Daynard stands at edge of a 200-acre farm where he and his brother, Albert Daynard, planted hundreds of fir trees as part of a 4-H program.

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