Inducted: November 28, 1990
Mr. Spence did not have the benefit of an extensive formal education; but short courses at Ridgetown, and active membership in organizations like Junior Farmers, amplified by practical day-to-day experience made him a leader in breeding quality swine and cattle.
At an early age, he took part in Junior Farmer judging competitions at the Canadian National Exhibition and the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, winning the Top Novice Award at the C.N.E. in 1928. He began, locally, showing pigs at the now-defunct Chatham Agricultural Fair, transporting them with a team of horses and a wagon.
From this developed his primary interest in the breeding of purebred Berkshire swine, some of them exhibited across Canada and exported to the United States and Mexico. His "Sunny Lodge Stock Farm" J.B. Spence & Son was registered with the Canadian National Live Stock Records in Ottawa in the late 1930s. This name, now registered for family use through his daughter, Donna G. Underwood, and granddaughter, Jennifer Underwood, for Simmental cattle and Nubian goats, is still displayed over prize-winning stock at the Royal Winter Fair. Three generations of Spences have shown livestock there for 43 successive years.
Mr. Spence's Berkshire breeding stock was selected by the Lacombe Experimental Farm in Alberta for the development of Lacombes, the only Canadian-developed breed of swine.
In the late 1940s, Mr. Spence established a local marketing agency for area hog producers. Market hogs brought to the Spence farm on Tuesdays were weighed and tattooed, then shipped by truck to the Coleman Packing Company in London. Block of ice were used in hot weather to keep the pigs cool. This was a forerunner of the provincial Hog Marketing Board.
Mr. Spence was a supporter of the Ontario Co-operative movement and worked hard in the development of the Thamesville District Co-operative Association. This contribution was recognized in 1964 with the presentation of the Co-operative Pioneer Award.
Mr. Spence was a founding member of the Quality Swine Co-operative in Shedden, sharing its goal of developing better swine. He was interested, too, in Shorthorn cattle, and was one of the first breeders to import polled Shorthorns from the United States, with the well-known Lynwood Farm bloodlines from Purdue University.
A 25-acre woodlot, still standing, is a living legacy from a man dedicated to conservation and sound land stewardship.
Mr. Spence received many honours and awards. The Kent County Hog Producers' gave him special recognition in 1973 for more than three decades of service as a Director. A Life Membership from the Canadian Lacombe Breeders' Association the following year was "In appreciation of his contribution to and long association with" that organization.
The Ontario Swine Breeders' Award of Merit for outstanding service to the purebred swine industry came in 1975. This was "In recognition and appreciation of the many years of loyalty toward our industry, and in special recognition of outstanding human quality and integrity."