Inducted: November 29, 1989
James McGuigan turned his back on a career in law to experiment, successfully, with fruit growing in a part of south Kent that has since produced some of Canada's finest fruit.
Mr. McGuigan was born at Cedar Springs, the son of Charles McGuigan and Margaret Crawford. His secondary school education in Chatham was followed by two years at the University of Toronto as an aspiring lawyer.
Following his marriage to Lillian Slemin, Mr. McGuigan returned to Kent County, bought a 60-acre farm in south Harwich Township and later inherited the home farm in Raleigh Township.
This gave him the opportunity to exercise his talents as a horticulturist to the fullest. He tried out new varieties of plums, cherries, apples and grapes; and peaches that were, according to family tradition, brought back from Kentucky by his uncle.
Mr. McGuigan bought "300 acres of cattails and marshland" when the Burke drainage scheme opened the Erieau marshes to agricultural production. Seventy-five Harwich Township acres acquired in the early 1920s were planted with apples to supply the British market, under the Stirling brand name.
Mr. McGuigan operated a small apple-drying factory at Cedar Springs shortly after the turn of the century, and the door to its furnace was incorporated into the fireplace clean-out in the large fieldstone bungalow built on the home farm in 1913 and 1914.
Mr. McGuigan's interest in peach-growing found a new outlet in the 1930s, when he started propagating his own peach tree nursery stock. Out of this developed a variety superior to Elbertas, named and patented as the McGuigan Peach, popular for years with home canners.
Mr. McGuigan was also keenly interested in politics, world affairs, cattle feeding and investments in gold mining stocks.