Inducted: October 28, 1992
Jim McGuigan carried his concerns over agriculture and the community into the Ontario Legislature, where his integrity and education won the admiration and respect of political friends and foes alike.
The McGuigan family was deeply rooted in the soil of South Kent. Mr. McGuigan's grandfather, James C. McGuigan, was so successful in the production of quality fruit that the Dominion Store was one of his customers over the years.
Mr. McGuigan, the son of Virgil McGuigan and the former Florence Fitzgerald, attended Raleigh-Harwich S.S. No.3, and Blenheim High School before graduating from the Ontario Agricultural College in 1946. He started farming with his father that year, and took over the family farm when his father died five years later. It become a partnership with his brother, Maurice, in 1958.
From the first, he was an innovator. He pioneered in the use of plastic greenhouses for tobacco seedlings, and in the use of plastic and paper mulches for the production of cantaloupe.
Mr. McGuigan was also a pioneer in the packaging of fruit in smaller containers geared to the consumer, including gift pack and mail order. He was a part of the team effort that established the Cedar Springs Cherry Growers' Co operative as a major exporter of Montmorency cherries to the United Kingdom.
Mr. McGuigan also pioneered in the production, pre-cooling and shipping of Ontario strawberries; and made reefer truck shipments to Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City. He produced Ontario certified strawberry plants with the inception of the plant certification program in 1960.
Co-operation with the Southwestern Ontario Fruit Testing Association in planting a test variety block and in making yearly evaluations of the test fruit was also numbered among his accomplishments; as was the practice of using supplemental natural pollens to increase the set of fruit.
Mr. McGuigan's deep seated commitment to the betterment of agriculture was manifested in active participation in many organizations, often in leadership positions. He was President of the Kent County Soil & Crop Improvement Association, the Kent County Vegetable Growers' Co-operative, and Chairman of the Apple Section, Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Association.
Mr. McGuigan was a Director of the Southwestern Ontario Branch of the Ontario Institute of Agrologists, the Agricultural Committee of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Ontario Fresh Peach Growers' Association. He has been a committeeman on the Ontario Apple Commission and the Ontario Vegetable Growers' Marketing Board; and a member of the Canadian Horticultural Council, the International Apple Institute, the Southwestern Ontario Fruit Testing Association, the Michigan State Horticultural Association, the Fertilizer Advisory Board of Ontario, the Dwarf Fruit Tree Association, the Ontario Institute of Agrologists and the Agriculture Institute of Canada.
Mr. McGuigan's wider responsibilities were combined with service in his home community. He was Chairman of the Raleigh-Harwich S.S. No.3 Public School Board, Vice-Chairman of the Blenheim District High School Board, President of Blenheim Rotary and an Elder and Sunday School Superintendent of Cedar Springs United Church.
Mr. McGuigan was elected Liberal member for Kent-Elgin (later Kent Essex) to the Ontario Legislature in 1977, where his well thought out positions won him the respect of the Progressive Conservative Government, then in power. His multi faceted interests eventually led to his appointments as Parliamentary Assistant to the Ministers of Natural Resources, Energy, Transportation and Communications and Agriculture and Food. One associate said of him, "With his brains, his interests and his ability to make and keep friends, he could make a contribution to any portfolio."