Inducted: November 29, 1989
James Rutherford excelled in management and marketing and was respected and held in high esteem by farmers in the late Nineteenth Century and early Twentieth Century who depended on winter wheat and white beans, grown in rotation, as their principal source of cash income.
Mr. Rutherford was born in Aberfeldy, Scotland, and came with his family to Eastern Ontario at the age of five. A younger brother, Alexander C., became the first Premier of Alberta when the province was constituted in 1905.
Before Kent County's chief crops became soybeans and commercial and seed corn, farmers depended on adequate facilities and capable management for the marketing of their commodities, and Mr. Rutherford provided both.
He won the respect, both of farmers for whom he developed markets and of the trade, which purchased his flour and beans for distribution in Eastern Canada and for export throughout the world.
Mr. Rutherford came to Blenheim in 1872, and soon abandoned his intended career in telegraphy and railroading. Instead, he went into grain merchandising and milling in association with William E. Neil and with N. H. Stevens, who later founded the Kent Mills in Chatham.
Mr. Rutherford left Blenheim for a short time for sheep ranching in Texas and business prospects in British Columbia, but returned to Blenheim and built in 1884 what became one of the county landmarks. The five-story "Big Mill" had its own steam power plant and storage and shipping buildings on both sides of Talbot Street, until the entire operation was put out of business by a disastrous fire in 1925.
Modern grain handling facilities and a feed mill were re-established by the Rutherford Family, and in 1989, a grandson, Jim Rutherford, continues to operate the Kent Grain & Feed Company Limited.