Inducted: October 25, 2000
Gerald Morden headed the Ontario Egg Producers’ Marketing Board through a most challenging period of international negotiations and dietary change. At the same time, minimum tillage and windbreaks in his extensive farming operation illustrated his deep commitment to soil conservation.
Mr. Morden’s far-sightedness and conscientious protection of soil resources, and his guidance in farm marketing, have made him a leader in his profession. The Kent Federation of Agriculture recognized that leadership in 1993 with its Meritorious Service Award, for a man “who serves the farming industry well”.
His quiet, and self-effacing manner has not disguised his talents, and he has won high praise from all who know him. One associate said, “He thinks things through, and comes up with wise decisions for everyone.” Another, “He is a kind and caring person, a gentleman in everything he does!”
Mr. Morden was born in Muirkirk, the son of Francis Morden and the former Lillie Gillies. He went to Duart Public School for his elementary education, then on to Ridgetown District High School, where he showed a marked aptitude for figures. He worked, briefly, as an accountant, but returned to the farm and the life he loved.
Mr. Morden exhibited leadership qualities at an early age, and in his formative years, took an active part in Junior Farmers. He was President of Duart Junior Farmers in 1955, and the following year, President of the Kent Junior Farmers. In 1957, he was a Director of the Junior Farmers’ Association of Ontario.
He was just 12 when he first became interested in egg production with the purchase of his first 150 pullets. His mother, then, “had a few hens just running loose around the yard”, but nothing on a commercial scale. As an adult, he became more deeply involved in eggs, and he and his wife, Carolyn, bought 2,000 layers, and became pioneers in the use of laying cages.
At the beginning of his involvement in egg production, there were no regulations, no marketing boards. A good friend explained, “he got in on the ground floor, but it wasn’t easy. I don’t think I would have had the guts to do it!”
Mr. Morden started with 2,000 layers; and by the time quotas were introduced in the 1960s, he had 27,500 laying hens. Changes in the rules on quotas cut this back to 16,000 hens, since increased to 22,000. Mr. Morden served as Director of the Kent Egg Producers’ Association from 1960 to 1965. He was Zone 1 Committeeman for the Ontario Egg Producers, representing Essex and Kent, and Chairman for those counties for many years.
Mr. Morden was elected Chairman of the Ontario Egg Producers’ Marketing Board in 1988, after two terms as Vice-Chairman, and held that office until 1995. This led to his service on the National Cost of Production Committee, and his representation of Ontario egg producers on the Industry Committee (SAGE), that helped stabilize egg supply management.
His buoyant attitude helped the industry through the crucial period of the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) talks, at a time when food habits were changing.
In his leadership role, Mr. Morden was the official voice of Ontario egg producers, a member of the Industrial Product Committee, of the Executive Committee and of the Egg Industry Advisory Committee.
He contributed to the development of the Board Mission Statement, which was the foundation for the Ontario Egg Producers’ Policy and Program Development. He was a leader when the Marketing Board decided to operate its Industrial Product Program. His trademark, “an infectious laugh”, helped many tedious sessions.
Mr. Morden was a charter member of the Chatham-Kent Toastmasters’ Club. He was President of the Kent Federation of Agriculture in 1967. He has been very active in the life of Duart Presbyterian Church, as a Member of the Session, Sunday School Superintendent, a member of the Board of Managers, and an Elder.
In 1957, he married Carolyn Stewart. They have a daughter, Auralie, an accountant with Orford Co-operative; and three sons, Russell of Thornhill; Duane, who farms Shunpiker Farms Ltd. with his father; and Blake of Leamington.
Their grandchildren are Jordan Morden of Thornhill; Stewart, Marie and Emma Morden, R. R. 1, Muirkirk, and Duncan and Matthew Morden, Leamington.
An associate said: “He has earned the gratitude of the agricultural industry by working to achieve better things for farmers. He works hard for everything and everybody.”