DAVID A. BRADLEY (1923 - )
Inducted: November 12th, 2013.
David Bradley was born and raised on a farm in the former Dover Township, son of Bruce and Marjorie Bradley.
He attended elementary school at S.S. No. 1, Dover, and then attended CCI (Chatham Collegiate Institute). He has been involved in the daily management of Bradley Farms since his return from the Air Force in 1945.
Bradley Farms has been a large and diversified farming operation in Kent County for over a century. Some of the early crops grown were onions, sweet corn, peas, carrots and tobacco. In later years, early hybrid seed corn, sugar beets, processing tomatoes as well as livestock feeder cattle were added to the mix of the industries on the farm.
As a member of the local farming community, David has been active in the running of many farm organizations. He served as a director to the Ontario Seed Corn Growers Board. Also, at various times, he was a director or chairman of the Kent Vegetable Board, the Kent Federation of Agriculture, the Ontario Sugar Beet Board and served on the Cattleman’s Association. Over the years, he participated in contract negotiations at the Provincial level with the vegetable processing industry.
At one time, Bradley Farms had the largest feedlot in Kent County with over 3,000 head of cattle. David’s experience in the cattle business made him an excellent choice to be appointed by MPP Andy Watson to the Ontario Stockyard Board where he served for many years. A neighbour describes David as “co-operative, open and friendly”. It was said that during any negotiations, he put himself in other peoples’ shoes. He demonstrated a commitment to his own ideas while being willing to listen to other view points, yet was able to compromise when necessary, for the good of the industry.
Bradley Farms has hosted many groups from around the world including, Canada, the US, Europe and Russia as they toured agriculture operations in Kent County. David’s willingness to share his ideas and successful farming practices made a tour of Bradley Farms an educational occasion. David also participated in agriculture tours to many US states and Europe, including Poland, all of which have helped him remain current with the many changes in agriculture over the years. As well as farming, the Bradley’s have operated a wild fowl hunting club since many hundreds of acres of the farm were flooded in 1929. David’s experience with marsh and environmental management has resulted in continued successful meshing of the farming and hunting business.
The location of Bradley Farms near the mouth of the Thames River and Lake St. Clair gave David the opportunity to develop a sound knowledge of drainage and water management. He was involved with the construction of the ARDA dikes project during the late 1970’s. These dikes continue to be pivotal in protecting Dover Township from being flooded by the Thames River during the annual spring thaw.
In addition to running the farm, Dave was involved with his brothers John and Bob as they undertook developments in Chatham such as Thames-Lea Plaza, Birdland Subdivision, Thames Towers Apartments, Holiday Inn, Wheels Inn, and others.
David married the former Margaret Quick of Dresden, Ontario on July 22nd, 1948 and they were married for 58 years before Margaret’s passing in 2006. David and Margaret have three children – Curtis Bradley (Diane), Barbara Bradley (John Vander linden), and Jane Bradley (Brad Hall), and have 11 Grandchildren and 2 Great Grandchildren. David continues to enjoy live everyday with his family, as well as long-time friend and companion, Vi Jones.
Throughout his life and career, David has always been interested in learning new methods in farming and has shown a willingness to listen and learn from others. His keen interest in his community and participation in many boards and the development of policies, new ideas to improve farming practices and contract negotiations, have all contributed to his nomination to the Kent Agricultural Hall of Fame.