Inducted: November 29, 1989
Napoleon (Nap) King started a grain trucking business and a seed cleaning operation in the early 1930s, the genesis for an industry that now provides high quality seed and other products to Canada and the world.
Mr. King's early interest in seeds and crop improvement was the result of participation in a Pain Court district school fair. The young contestants were given seed barley, seed wheat or seed oats in the spring, and judged on their crops in the fall.
As the oldest in a family of nine, Mr. King got into farming early. Soon, he and a brother, Gerard, set up a seed cleaning and treating plant on the Third Concession of Dover Township.
Mr. King became the sole owner of the business in 1934, when the partnership was dissolved. At that time, seeds were produced and marketed under the rules and guidelines of the Canadian Seed Growers' Association and the Federal Seed Inspection Service.
In 1938, Mr. King went to Ohio, Illinois and Indiana and was able to return with enough four-way hybrids to grow 15 acres under special registration certificate the following year. The business expanded, as his talent for marketing produced successful advertisements in agricultural publications.
One landmark was the development of an ear corn drying plant, a necessity if the industry was to expand. In 1949, King Grain and Seed Company Ltd. was founded; and a working agreement developed to grow, process and distribute Pride seed corn in Canada and northeastern United States. The company expanded to Quebec in 1959, to Michigan in 1968 and to France in 1972.
Mr. King has received many honours. The Quebec government presented him with a plaque in 1971 for outstanding services in the development of grain corn in that province. In 1972, he was made an Honorary Life Member of the Canadian Seed Growers' Association.
The Ontario Agricultural College of the University of Guelph awarded him a Centennial Medal in 1974; and he received a Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977. In 1978 he was recognized as the Agriculturalist of the Year by the Chatham & District Chamber of Commerce. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food also recognized him with a Centennial Award in 1988.
Mr. King became an Honorary Life Member of the Canadian Seed Trade Association in 1982.
One of his most prized possessions is the plaque presented by King Grain employees when the company celebrated its 50th Anniversary, a thank-you to "a good employer and a good man."