Clark, John Murray (1928 -)
Inducted: October 27, 1999
John Murray Clark has been a strong activist for the pork industry for much of his adult life, striving to improve the quality and marketability of a meat that is an important component of Canadian diets.
In this, he has set himself a personal standard of excellence in all that he has done, a standard that has earned him the admiration and respect of all segments of the pork industry. He is, in the words of one associate, “top drawer”.
Mr. Clark has been an innovator. More than 40 years ago, he and his brother, Ken, initiated the use of high moisture corn for feeding pigs, an experiment greeted with some skepticism.
Other hog producers thought that the high moisture corn would spoil in the silo, and would not be fit for feed. They were wrong; and the silo built by the Clarks to handle the high moisture corn was the first for that purpose in Ontario.
Mr. Clark was born in Howard Township in June, 1928, the son of the former Olive May McKay and George Clark. He attended the Selton School, S. S. 10, Howard Township, then Ridgetown District High School.
Their father’s death at the age of 54 when Murray was 14 and Ken 16, left the two teenagers with heavy responsibilities. They, and their mother, were
determined to keep the family farm; and sometimes this meant that the two could not start to school until November, when the crops were in.
With Ken on the farm, Murray took a variety of jobs to help raise the money to keep the Clark family solvent. He worked as a Bell Telephone linesman, then on construction work, and later at United Co-operatives on Park Avenue East in Chatham.
In 1957, there were momentous changes in Mr. Clark’s life. He returned to work on the farm full time and he married Joan Maynard of Chatham. In the early years, Murray’s half of the 100 acre farm was typical of that time, with cash crops, and some beef cattle as well as hogs.
Mr. Clark was soon actively involved in improving pork production and marketing. He was active on the Kent County Pork Producers’ Association for over 20 years, and a Director of that organization from 1973 to 1991. He was a Director on the Ontario Pork Producers Marketing Board in Toronto from 1973 to 1976.
Mr. Clark took a key role in obtaining the Blenheim marketing yard for area pork producers, a convenience of inestimable value.
As consumers’ tastes changed, and the market demand was for a leaner, flavorful pork, Mr. Clark’s constant quest for quality was reflected in other activities. He was a Director of Quality Swine Co-op, at Shedden, for eight years, and the Chairman of that Board in 1988 and 1989.
The Co-op focused on developing better breeding stock to meet market requirements, combining elements of English Yorkshire and Landrace on the female side, and Duroc and Hampshire on the male side, for a leaner, more disease-resistant pig.
Mr. Clark was also a founding member in 1993 of the Progressive Pork Producers Co-operative Inc., a quality-inspired group planning a plant for hogs in London. Drastic and unpredictable market fluctuations have added to the problems associated with this planning.
Mr. Clark retired from farming at the end of 1998, but continued as a Director of the Progressive Pork Producers.
Mr. Clark has been a member of Tecumseh Lodge #245, Thamesville, and the Clarks have been associated with St. John’s Botany Church. Mr. Clark has also been a 4H Swine Club leader, a Ridgetown Minor Hockey coach, and in earlier years, a member of Toastmasters.
In 1992, Mr. Clark received the Medal commemorating the 125th Anniversary of Confederation in Canada, from the Governor-General.
The Clark’s son, Douglas, is a farrier in London. He and his wife, the former Laurie Lotz of Rodney, have a son, Adam Murray.
Murray’s associates and friends praise him for his high standards. One said, “He takes pride in what he does, no matter what it is. It has to be right, not just for him, but for everybody.”
Mr. Clark is “always ready to discuss a proposal or a project, as long as it has merit.” In brief, he is “an excellent farmer, and a real gentleman!”
“He believed in the industry, and he tried to make it better!