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In 1988, the Kent Agricultural Hall of Fame was created to honour those that demonstrated unselfish achievement within the realm of agriculture and service to the rural community.
Photo image of Paul Oran Weber

Weber, Paul Oran

- 1995

Inducted: November 1, 1995

Paul Weber came from the mountains of his native West Virginia to apply common sense and staggering amounts of work to farming in Ontario, ultimately to the betterment of farmers in Kent County.

His story is not one of a young man who started farming on a long-established family farm. He started from scratch, and has achieved everything on his own, and with the help of an equally hard-working family. He did not own a farm until 1951.

In spite of other demands on his time, he became involved early in organizations to stabilize farm returns, and to improve community life.

Mr. Weber was born in West Virginia, the eldest of the eight surviving children of Daniel and Anna Weber. The family moved first to Detroit, then to the Bay City area, where they grew sugar beets, and Mr. Weber received a rudimentary education. In 1925, the family--indirectly through the Canada Land Company--moved to a farm on the Middle Road, Tilbury East Township, where they grew 100 acres of sugar beets in the heyday of the Ontario sugar industry.

After several years, the Webers moved to the Stevenson area near Renwick, where they continued to farm on a share-crop or rental basis. The Depression came, and Mr. Weber worked in the city at any job that he could get, combining it with farming. As the eldest in the family, Mr. Weber had the responsibility of helping his brothers and sisters, and his father, when he moved to the Oil Springs area.

In 1938, Mr. Weber married the former Evelyn Atkinson. That same year, the opportunity came to rent a farm on the Back Line, North Middle Road, Tilbury East Township. It was, according to one family member, a typical, self-sustained farm operation of that period, with "a team of horses, a couple of cows, a few chickens, and a lot of hard work!" One family tradition is that the farm income fell short of the $1,000 rent, but the owner of the land, aware of the Webers' hard work, carried them for another year.

Mr. Weber became involved in the campaign to organize tomato growers, to put them in a stronger bargaining position with processing companies. In this, he worked with leaders like Frank Parry and Charles Baker, both labouring for more stabilization in canning crop production.

Mr. Weber was also deeply involved in the recruitment of seasonal farm workers, forming good working relationships with native and French-Canadian workers who returned to his farm year after year.

Mr. Weber became active in the Kent County Vegetable Growers' Association, and the Chairman of that group. He was elected a Director of the Ontario Vegetable Growers' Marketing Board in 1967, and Chairman in 1969 and 1970. He served as a Director until 1971.

Mr. Weber was a member of the Kent Federation of Agriculture; and an active participant in meetings of Kent Wheat Producers and Kent Soya Bean Growers.

In his community, he worked hard as a Director and a Committee Member of the Merlin Agricultural Society; and in the building of the Merlin Agricultural Society Hall and Community Centre.

Mr. Weber was deeply interested in 4-H activities, and tried, unsuccessfully, to start a Kent 4-H Processing Vegetable Club. A natural musician, he has taken his accordion or harmonica to many community and family events.

Mr. Weber has three children: sons, Lee, now retired from the position of Essex County Agricultural Representative; and David, on the family farm, and in agri-business; and a daughter, Ruth Wylie, of Comber. There are 10 grandchildren and one great grandchild. Mrs. Weber died in Florida in 1987.

A neighbour said that Mr. Weber "could always be depended on for help, when help was needed." He could also be counted on for "good, sound advice, to organizations or individuals."