Garner, James A.
Inducted: November 29, 1989
James A. Garner was Kent County Agricultural Representative through the Depression and World War II, dark days in farming that brought out his unique talents as an agriculturalist and a friend of all farmers.
The citation accompanying his 1980 posthumous induction into the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame called him "an outstanding Ontario agriculturalist."
It was Kent County's good fortune that Mr. Garner served here for 17 years, almost half of his distinguished career. A native of Grey County,
he worked in the Ontario Department of Agriculture's Extension Branch in Victoria, Grey and Rainy River before his transfer to Kent in 1929.
Agriculture was on the brink of the major changes that would eventually eliminate the type of self-sufficient farm operation that produced all the food a farm family needed.
It was Mr. Garner's challenge to help farmers into a new kind of agriculture at a time when the Depression brought commodity prices to an all-time low. His voice was heeded in the establishment of the Burley Tobacco Marketing Association of Ontario, and the other marketing groups that began to speak with a more authoritative voice for agriculture.
In Kent, he encouraged men like Nap King and Ian Maynard who were ready to experiment with hybrid seed corn. World War II brought a period of maximum agricultural production combined with price controls, aggravating to farmers who were starting to see their input costs going up faster than their returns.
With the help of Nellie Johnston, Jim Garner handled the influx of prisoners-of-war, brought into Kent to provide much-needed farm labour. It was their responsibility to handle the payroll and to adjudicate the problems that developed.
Mr. Garner organized the first prisoner-of-war labour camp in Kent County, just one aspect of an ongoing attempt to find farm help when all labour was at a premium.
His proven abilities made his career advancement inevitable, and in 1946 he became Director of Extension for the province.
A decade later, he was appointed Ontario's Chief Agricultural Officer, a position held with distinction until his untimely death in 1958.
The citation, when his portrait was placed in the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame at the Ontario Agricultural Musem in Milton in l980, read "Mr. Garner's career is a shining example of selfless dedication. His imaginative ideas brought many changes to the Ontario extension service.