on the Farm
Farms: "A Wonder Among Farms"
hard to imagine that one of the largest dairy farms in North America
was situated on the outskirts of the Town of Walkerville. The Walker
Farm, founded in 1904 by Hiram Walker & Sons, later operated
by Walkerside Limited, was the source of about one-quarter of the
milk and cream sold throughout the Border Cities by the Walkerside
a previous issue of The Walkerville Times, we described one of Hiram
Walker's earliest rural developments, The Essex Stock Yards, situated
on the present-day site of the GM Transmission plant. This
stock yard was developed over 120 years ago and was used to breed
various kinds of farm animals to stock Hiram Walker's county farms-
Walker pumped mash from his distillery through a pipeline to fatten
farm which apparently was the predecessor of The Walker Farm, was
established around 1893 its exact location is not clear although
it's likely that it was on the site of the expanded Walker Farms.
This farm was regarded as a model of scientific experiment and innovation.
The considerations of time and cost did not hinder its development.
A steam engine and a special cable plow were brought over from England-
soil and culture experts were contacted from the United States and
Farms, also known as Walker Farms, was developed by Hiram Walker's
sons in the area now bounded by Walker, Central, E.C. Row and south
of the airport. It is said that 3rd Concession, which became part
of E.C. Row in 1971, was the first cement road in Canada. Reportedly
built by Hiram Walker, it was one car wide and featured one foot
early Border Daily Star newspaper reports the farm was "a revelation
of modern methods in agriculture. Its spacious barns, its administration
offices and its semi-circle of homes for the farm employees are
evidences of the new day in farming. The milk from the farm ranks
so high that it brings nineteen cents a quart as against fifteen
cents for the other milk sold in the Border Cities."
were 600 head of cattle at the farm and some 300 were milking cows.
Many of these animals were prize winners. Two thousand acres of
land supported corn, alfalfa, barley, oats, wheat, etc. to feed
the cattle, and 800 men did the work of looking after the needs
of the animals and getting the milk to market. There was also a
fine orchard with some 6,000 apple trees and an apiary of 35 colonies.
many Windsor and area people, the farm still holds a special place
in their hearts. For Joanne McMurren of Woodslee, the earliest incarnation
of Walker Farms was where her maternal grandparents met and fell
in love. "My grandmother Susan Diem worked at the farm in the early
1890's as a housekeeper, cook and maid. She used a lantern to go
to the barn to milk the cows in the morning before light- she also
made the butter and bread. Her future husband, Fred Dahl, and his
father lived in the Woodslee area but worked at the farm as bricklayers.
They probably took their horses & wagon and boarded the train
to go to work and returned home late. My grandparents married in
Woodslee in 1895 and had 12 children."
Midge Kristinovich was born, her family lived on Walker Farms. Her
dad had shifted the family from Pelee Island in 1928 so he could
work in the horse barn. The family lived on the farm until 1949
when they returned to Pelee Island. An older sister of Midge's recalls
that Hiram Walker's horse and carriage were stored in a building
attached to the horse barn. "Mr. Walker (who had died in 1899) had
one particular horse that his sons kept on the farm- it lived for
family made their home in one of the dwellings on Walker Circle.
"These were grey cement duplexes with identical small trees in front
there was a boarding house on each end of the circle. There
was a lavatory at the back of each duplex. My sister remembers that
when you put the lid down to sit, the water would start running!"
sister also recalls the Great Hall at Walker Farms- one room with
a stage- site of meetings and Christmas concerts. "For school, she
walked one mile to the Walker Road School, which had four rooms
and went up to Grade 8. The high school, which she also walked to,
was Mayfair High near Chrysler."
Stodgell Wigle of Windsor remembers afternoon excursions in the
family carriage to Walker Farms for fresh produce. "We would head
up Walker Road, past all the houses and factories- and then, at
last- we'd arrive at the farm; it was wonderful!"
the 1940's, the farm's future was in jeopardy. Plagued by several
fires, including one in 1937, when a large storage barn and implement
shed in the orchard burned. According to the Windsor Daily Star,
"a crowd came to watch the fire and many took advantage of the opportunity
to sample Walker Farm apples and picked them off the trees."
February 1946, the remaining Walker brothers, now living in Michigan,
closed the dairy business and put up a complete herd of dairy cows
for auction- over 1,200 buyers came to the sale. Walker Farms would
carry on strictly as a produce farm.
January 1949, the Walker Farms barn, empty for two years, was destroyed
by fire; this was the 7th case of arson on the farm.
Walker brothers had severed several hundred acres of land to form
Walker Airport (now Windsor Airport) in the 1920's and as the airport
grew, more land from Walker Farms was gobbled up. As the City of
Windsor pushed its boundaries south and east, it was only
a matter of time before the remaining animals and implements were
sold and the Farm was shut down for good.
circle of homes remained and for many years served as housing for
area residents on a budget. Eventually, the buildings fell into
disrepair and as more and more of the Farm was bought up for light
industrial use, the homes disappeared.
all that remains of this once enormous state-of-the-art farm and
dairy is a small neglected lot sandwiched between two light industrial
buildings on Deziel Road. A walk through the lot reveals nothing
but some scraggly trees and shrubs and what appears to be remnants
of the narrow cement road that linked some of the dairy buildings.
How soon before this disappears too and everyone says, "Walker Farms
never heard of it!"
Note: The Walkerville Times believes that the last remaining piece
of Walker Farms should be preserved and a historical marker or plaque
should be erected on the site in order for the people of Windsor
and Essex County to remember a significant part of their past.