Inducted: November 28, 1998
Hubert Owen wanted to be a doctor, but when circumstances encouraged him to leave University to return to the family farm in Dover, his expanding operation became a model for other farmers.
He has headed some important farm organizations, and been an active member in others, all of them focused on improving agriculture.
In Kent County, he has established a reputation as an excellent farmer and exemplar; in Huron County, he is known as a trail-blazer in corn production. One associate said, "he is a great farmer and a great friend. The salt of the earth!"
Owen tradition is that a member of the Owen family has farmed on the North American continent for 200 years. The first was an ancestor who was dropped off ship in the Bahamas after he broke a leg. From there, he travelled to Massachusetts and later the family moved on to Canada, locating in the Township of Dover, as part of the migration of United Empire Loyalists after the American Revolutionary War.
Mr. Owen was born in 1925, the only child of the former Jean McKay and Wilfred Owen. He attended elementary school at S. S. 8, Dover Township; then took his Grades 9 and 10 at Dover Centre. A year at Chatham Vocational School was followed by University preparation at Chatham Collegiate Institute.
Mr. Owen then started his pre-med at the University of Western Ontario, but farm labour shortages during and after World War II, and his responsibilities as an only child, encouraged him to return to the family farm after only one year.
From the first, he wanted to excel. When he had a large beef feeder operation, he and other beef producers like George Morris, tapped available sources of information in Ontario and Michigan to make their operations more cost effective. He was President of the Kent Beef Improvement Association, at a significant time in the beef industry.
As President and a member of the Kent Soil and Crop Improvement Association, he encouraged the changes that put Kent in the forefront of the farming industry. He was also Dover Director of the Kent Federation of Agriculture, later serving as Director at large. He was an exhibitor at the Chicago Exposition; and an elite seed grower. An associate from early days said, "Hubert is the kind of guy who will do any amount of research to make sure that he is on the right track."
Not satisfied with his success in Kent, Mr. Owen moved into Huron County, where at one time he farmed more than one thousand acres. He bought small farms in Huron, and removed the fences to enlarge the fields for corn production. There was skepticism--"Huron did not have the climate for corn production" but the operation was a success. He, and a partner built an elevator and a processing facility. Mr. Owen's Huron business also included quality egg and chicken production.
Mr. Owen married the former Bessie Irene Stacey at Holy Trinity Church in 1950. They have five children: David (Shirley), Chatham Township; Donald, at home; Dennis (Nancy), Dover Township; and two daughters, Jane (Mrs. Patrick Leneuvel), Ottawa, who worked for Agriculture Canada from 1982 until only recently when she became a consultant; and Jill (Mrs. Brian McFadden), Dover Township.
There are eight grandchildren: Steven, Katherine and Zachary Owen; Eric, Daniel and Claire Leneuvel; and Lauren and Erica McFadden.
The Owens are members of Grace Congregational Christian Church, Dover. Mr. Owen is a cash crop farmer on the family farm at Concession 13 and the Bay Line, Dover. He and his wife winter in Deltona, Florida, midway between Orlando and Daytona Beach. Both enjoy golf.
His friends say nice things about Mr. Owen. They describe his as "very congenial and friendly, and the kind of friend who never lets you down", and "a man who likes to talk, but always says something worthwhile."