Cosack farm still ‘The McCutcheon Place’

May 30, 2013   ·   0 Comments

Newcomers to the Honeywood area might do a double take when they hear the present Peace Valley Ranch referred to as The McCutcheon Place but, throughout rural Ontario, farmsteads often retain the identities of original settlers – no matter how many successions the properties have gone through.

In the case of Peace Valley Ranch, owner Carl Cosack is probably only the third family name attached to the property since it was first cultivated more than a century ago.

Carl would be considered a newcomer by his aging neighbours although he has been there since 1975, after his parents had pulled up European stakes in 1964 and emigrated to Canada.

Since 1975, Carl has kept the farm’s original barn in good condition and in use as it has been from the beginning. The barn now not only is part of Carl’s organic farming operations and “dude ranch,” but also a symbol of the continuing battle against disruptions to water sources and agricultural operations.

From the Ranch, Carl has made time to act as spokesman for North Dufferin Agriculture and Community Taskforce (NDACT) since its formation about four years ago. He doesn’t give himself credit for any of the strides made by NDACT, although others would say he has been a driving force.

For an interview and photo Monday, Carl apologized for not having shaved. He had spent the day not only tending to some calves and repairing some fences, but also doing some last-minute emailing various persons about the forthcoming report on the Aggregate Resources Act (ARA) review.

“It’s crunch time,” he said. “The final report (by the all-party review committee) is being written today and tomorrow. The next step is getting it to the legislature and getting (the amendments) passed into law.”

Carl’s current community efforts focus on NDACT’s Food and Water First campaign, but he credits Shirley Boxam with its success in getting “thousands” of signs displayed across the province, in much the way that the “stop the mega-quarry” ones sprung up.

He said, additionally to the signs, the campaign has gone over well with almost every MPP and provincial minister NDACT has spoken with. And other organizations have come onboard. On June 8, Carl is slated to be keynote speaker at Ontario River Alliance in North Bay.

When the original McCutcheon family chose a location for their farm, they found an acreage nestled in a valley a few miles southeast of the village of Honeywood. Although in a sheltered valley, the farm did not escape the fury of the 1985 tornado that levelled much of Grand Valley and Barrie.

That tornado tore the roof off the McCutcheon/Cosack barn but, thanks to the generosity of Mennonite volunteers from Mount Forest, the roof was quickly rebuilt. Carl says the original barn is otherwise largely intact.

What of the McCutcheon family? The descendants are held in high esteem and, if anyone has criticism, they should be careful to whom they voice it: the McCutcheon daughters married into other pioneering families who are still around after several generations, so a lot of the long-established folks in that part of Dufferin are related.

By Wes Keller




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