Inducted: November 16, 2010
When Peter Hensel was forced by circumstances to give up his ambition to become an engineer, he threw himself into farming, and agricultural activities with typical enthusiasm and dedication.
During his working years, he has tackled many challenges. He has farmed at several locations, maintaining an active interest in anything that would improve agriculture. He has been involved in municipal affairs. At the same time, he has worked at many jobs, some farm-related. In his own quiet way, he has been "a man for all seasons".
Mr. Hensel was born in Dover Township, the son of John and Elizabeth Hensel. He attended Bear Creek School, Dover Township and Wallaceburg District Secondary School, before enrolling at Waterloo University in the Co-operative Engineering Program. Two years into that, he was forced to give up his engineering ambitions when his father's illness brought him home in the fall of 1959.
His father died early in 1960, and Peter started farming the 50 acres of the home farm on Concession 14, Dover Township, along with 50 acres on Highway 40 on Concession 15. He also worked at Milling Products before his marriage in 1964 to Joyce Dierckens, of Coatsworth.
Over the years, the Hensel farms produced soybeans, tomatoes, cucumbers, sugar beets, tobacco, white beans and wheat, and for 14 years, strawberries, both on order, and on a "pick your own" basis.
Mr. Hensel served on the Kent Hog Producers' Association, as well as the Ontario Sugar Beet Growers' Marketing Board; and municipally, he was a member of the Dover Township Planning Board, when that township was an acknowledged leader in rural planning.
Some of his jobs that he combined with farming were at Dominion Die, Wallaceburg; at Libby's in Chatham; at King Grain in Pain Court; and as Maple Leaf Manager, and as Shipping Foreman at Wallaceburg Glass.
Mr. Hensel was the Farm Manager of Tahgahoning Enterprises, Walpole and St. Anne's Island, which led to his nomination to the Kent Agricultural Hall of Fame by the Board of Directors of Tahgahoning Enterprises Inc., a nomination endorsed by Joseph B. Gilbert, the Chief of the Walpole Island First Nation.
Since 1981, he has charted all grain markets.
Mr. Hensel has been active in a wide range of community and church activities. He has been a member of the Wallaceburg Roman Catholic Separate School Board, of the Cemetery Board, and of the Financial Committee in the clustering of three churches, Holy Family and our Lady of Help of Christians, in Wallaceburg, and Sacred Heart in Port Lambton.
He has been active in the Knights of Columbus since 1963 as Grand Knight, Faithful Navigator and District Deputy. He has been on First, Second and Third Degree teams, and a member of Fourth Degree since June, 1978. He is currently Historian on the Fourth Degree Team.
In retirement, he has maintained a busy schedule. He is President of the Senior Centre in Wallaceburg; President of the Ontario Senior Games for Chatham-Kent; Vice-President of the Ontario Senior Games in Toronto, and a volunteer with Fun Day Bowling at Bowlerama, Chatham.
He has been a loyal and a faithful supporter of Lee Montgomery in his stray voltage fight.
His dedication and hard work have received recognition. He was honoured at 2008 as Volunteer of the Year in Toronto with a presentation by the Lieutenant-Governor.
He, and his wife, Joyce have three children: Peter Jr., and John at the Lambton Generating Station; and Jodi (Tom) Rolph, Stoney Point. The Hensels have nine grandchildren.
Mr. Hensel has inspired the same loyalty and affection in friends that he has given them over the years. One long-time associate, Sue Williams, described him as "a wonderful gentleman". She said, "he is very hard working; he has a passion for whatever he does! I am proud to know him!"