Inducted: October 30, 1991
David L. McCreary lived long enough to receive the recognition he deserved as the "grandfather" of the Kent County road system, a network of secondary highways that has been of immeasurable benefit to farmers and farming.
Mr. McCreary was born in Chatham Gore, and attended S.S. No. 17 on the south side of the Sydenham River. At the age of 16, he started to work on the Great Lakes, but the lure of the land persuaded him to quit the lakes at the age of 26, and to buy 50 acres of prime farmland on Concession 3, Chatham Gore.
His was a mixed farming operation, with a dairy herd to provide the milk sold to Wallaceburg customers.
The automobile was still in its infancy when Wallaceburg Ford salesman Darcy McGuire visited Mr. McCreary early in 1914 to try to sell him a Model T. When the farmer said he would rather spend his money paving the road in front of his house, Mr. McGuire took the idea back to the Wallaceburg Board of Trade.
The province had promised a 60 percent subsidy on rural road improvement, envisioning better gravel roads rather than expensive paving. World War I interrupted the organizing effort, but in December, 1918, Kent County Council agreed to pave a few miles as an experiment. McCreary's name was the first on a petition asking for the pavement, and guaranteeing the payment of the ratepayers' 20 percent of the cost.
The province was held to its commitment to contribute 60 percent, and the county paid 20 percent. Tradition is that Mr. McCreary contributed $500 to the road, a princely sum at that time. The Dominion Sugar Company, headed by Wallaceburg's D.A. Gordon, chipped in $l,000. In 1919, the road (now Highway 78) was paved from Wallaceburg to Peers Corners, and in subsequent years, the paving was continued through to Dresden, the first paved rural road in Kent County, recognized as a pattern for the future in other Ontario municipalities.
Mr. McCreary was nominated the United Farmers of Ontario candidate in the 1923 provincial election, but he was defeated by Chatham lawyer R.L. Brackin.
In farming, he was an innovator, and the owner of one of the first tractors in the Wallaceburg area as the mechanization of the industry began.
Mr. McCreary was a charter member of the Wallaceburg Rotary Club, and an active and interested member of the Wallaceburg Chamber of Commerce. He served on the Wallaceburg High School Board from 1946-1958.
He saw the need for a hospital in Wallaceburg, and was one of the founders of the Sydenham District Hospital, and was a member of the Board of Directors. He furnished a third-floor room.
His pioneering contribution to the development of better roads brought him the nickname of "Good Roads Dave," and the thanks and respect of the farming community. Someone said of him, "Experience has made him a walking encyclopedia of practical farming."