Inducted: November 28, 1990
Earl Montgomery was a forward-looking farmer who helped found the Kent Federation of Agriculture, and a visionary planner who gave agriculture top priority in Dover Township's official land use plan.
The only child of Eliza and John Montgomery, he was initiated early in the practical aspects of farming on the home farm on Highway 40 at Concession 11, Dover. Mr. Montgomery attended Dover Centre School, where it was possible then to get the equivalent of the first two years of secondary school. He did, then went on to the Canada Business College in Chatham to master the basics of business management.
Mr. Montgomery shared the educational pattern of many young farmers of his time; attending school in the winter and farming in the summer.
His marriage in 1915 to Bessie Jean Gregory of Kent Bridge, a 1911 graduate of St. Joseph's Hospital School of Nursing, was tragically short.
She died of tuberculosis in 1928.
Without children, Mr. Montgomery devoted himself to agriculture and his community. He served as a Dover Township Council member in 1929-1930, as Deputy Reeve in 1933-1934, and as Reeve from 1935-1938. Mr. Montgomery became Dover Township Road Superintendent in 1939.
That year, the Kent Federation of Agriculture was founded, a farm organization with a wider scope than the many commodity groups.
Sympathetic with its concern for all interests of all farmers, Mr. Montgomery helped in the organization and served as Federation President for the first two years, 1939 and 1940. He was an early hybrid seed corn grower.
As a founding member of the Dover Township Planning Board, Mr. Montgomery helped to draft the planning documents that made the preservation of irreplaceable farmland the township's prime concern. This planning policy was so well-established that it was recognized and praised by members of the Ontario Municipal Board on more than one occasion. When a planning "freeze" was imposed on many other Ontario rural municipalities, Dover was exempt from this provincial control because of its sound planning.
Mr. Montgomery was active in the Dover Centre Presbyterian Church, and served as its Sunday School Superintendent.
A friend and associate described him as a "visionary, with a talent of looking into the future, and planning for it." He said, "He was far ahead of his time in his thinking."