Inducted: October 27, 1993
When the end of sugar beet processing was announced in 1967, farmers felt that Canada and Dominion Sugar Company's (Redpath') Agricultural Superintendent, Bev Easton, shared their devastating sense of loss. A representative of the Ontario Sugar Beet Growers' Marketing Board said then, "Growers in Ontario had one of the fairest contracts possible, and Bev Easton could take the credit for that. He always wanted a fair deal for both the growers and the company."
Mr. Easton was born in Harwich Township and attended elementary and secondary schools in Chatham. He graduated from the Ontario Agricultural College in 1936 with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (B.S.A.) degree.
Mr. Easton joined the Canada and Dominion Sugar Company in 1937, after briefly operating the family farm. Sugar beet production had much to recommend it during the late Depression years, because of the assurance of payment at a time of depressed commodity prices and marketing uncertainties.
World War II brought serious labour problems for sugar beet growers, and Mr. Easton recruited seasonal help from a variety of sources, including Japanese workers from B.C., and workers from prisoner-of-war and displaced persons' camps. Active service overseas as an officer with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry interrupted that work; and after the war, he and the company looked to Europe for the seasonal help necessary for beet production, bringing in individuals and families who have since become good Canadian citizens. Mr. Easton was associated with the steady progress of sugar beet production, through monogerm seed, new planters, mechanical thinners and selective weed control. By the time the Chatham plant closed, production was nearing a level of mechanization that would have eliminated much of the labour associated with sugar beets.
Mr. Easton's work for agriculture did not end with the closing of the Chatham plant. After 1969, he helped promote the use of plastic tubing for land drainage in Canada and in parts of the U.S., and of the drainage plow for faster installation. He delivered papers on these developments to annual meetings of the Canadian Society of Agricultural Engineering, the American Society of Agricultural Engineers and the Ontario Farm Drainage Association.
Mr. Easton served as an arbitrator for the Ontario Farm Products' Marketing Board, and helped industries with market surveys on the potential for corn production in new areas. He served as an agricultural consultant in many areas, including assessing the potential for sugar beet production in the United States and other countries. Since his retirement in 1976, he has continued as a consultant working from his homes in Cedar Springs and Florida.
Mr. Easton has also worked hard for the community, as a Past President of Chatham Rotary Club, Past Chairman of the Chatham Board of Education, Past Chairman of the Chatham Industrial Commission and a Past Director of the Chatham and District Chamber of Commerce. He has been a member of Fourth Line United Church.
Agriculturally, he is Past President of the American Society of Sugar Beet Technologists, a member of the Agricultural Institute of Canada, a Charter Member of the Ontario Institute of Professional Agrologists, a member of the Ontario Farm Drainage Association and a member of the Corrugated Plastic Tubing Association.
Mr. Easton has two children, a son, Bev, Manager of Safety/Health/Loss at Union Gas, and a daughter, Jane Vango, Oshawa.
A former grower said of him, "Bev was the best friend sugar beet growers ever had. We knew we could trust him."