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  • Norfolk Farms

Ken Porteous: A Lifetime of Leadership

Born in Ottawa, Ken Porteous lost his dad when he was only a year and a half old. He and his mom moved in with his grandfather and the family soon left the area to return to roots in the Tyrell area, where Ken’s mom taught in the eight-grade Tyrell school.

Ken Porteous

Before long, Ken had a new step-dad when his mom married Jack Lingwood. Bored with school, Ken left to work on their farm at age 15, then attended the University of Guelph a few years later as a mature student. He graduated in ’56 from the two year Animal Husbandry program.

In 1957 Jack Lingwood passed away. Twenty year old Ken felt thrown into the deep end to deal with 200 acres of farmland, 25 acres of orchard and a milking herd of 30 plus young stock. His step brother David Lingwood quit Guelph and the two young men formed a partnership with David dealing with the orchard and Ken handling the cattle.

Dairy farming was hard work and by the early 70’s Ken was experiencing severe back problems. A ruptured disc put him in hospital in traction for three weeks. The dairy herd was sold: one cow commanded the (then) record price of $53,000, while the average price was the highest ever paid for a herd in Canada.

In 1974, Ken joined in partnership with Joe Bernard, Bart Jackson, Max Schuyler and Terry Shaw to create the Norfolk Cherry Company.  This venture was predicated by the closure of St. Williams Preserves, leaving cherry producers without a market. They began processing cherries – 170,000 pounds of them – the same year. “It was a disaster … none of us knew how to preserve cherries.” One of the major problems experienced was a lack of sufficient water. They continued however, learning form the experience, and this year handled 11,600,000 pounds of cherries – 90% of Canada’s production.

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