Stewardson, Fraleigh and Marriott honoured by Hall of Fame

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Heather Wright/The Independent

The first female president of the Lambton Federation of Agriculture, a member of parliament who was a champion for the pork industry and the current warden of Lambton County have been inducted into the Lambton Agricultural Hall of Fame.

Dona Stewardson, Sid Fraleigh and Kevin Marriott were honoured Friday night during a virtual ceremony for their contributions to agriculture in Lambton and beyond.

Dona Stewardson

Stewardson grew up on a farm in Lambton Shores and always loved working on the farm.
In 1981, she became involved in farm politics and by 1987, she was the the first woman to be president of the Lambton Federation of Agriculture. She went on to serve on the executive of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture – the only woman on the seven person team.

She also served on several provincial and federal advisory panels including one which revised the Environmental Bill of Rights for Agriculture.

Stewardson also is keenly aware of environmental challenges, serving as a field inspector for the then newly formed Rural Lambton Stewardship Program. She was also a member of the Remedial Action Committee.

She represented farmers on the Sarnia Chamber of Commerce Environment Committee.
Stewardson was involved in the organization of the Lambton Rural Childcare Program which began as a pilot project in Lambton.

She worked with OMAF staff and members of the Women’s Institute to put on a new program called Agriculture in the Classroom, for students and teachers of Lambton. It continues today.

Stewardson also was involved in municipal politics in Bosanquet Township, is active in her church and served on the Huron County Playhouse.
“From childhood to retirement, to be able to stand up to introduce oneself and say I am a farmer is so rewarding and the best life ever,” Stewardson is known to say.

Former MP Sid Fraleigh was also inducted into the hall of fame. While he’s likely best known for his work as a Conservative politician to the majority of Lambton residents, in the farm community, Fraleigh’s work in the pork industry is remembered.

Sid Fraleigh

Brian Boyle, who nominated Fraleigh for the honour, said his accomplishments could be summed up as “pork and politics.” The now 90 year-old was the head of the Pork Producers Marketing Board for 10 years. It was a tumultuous time, says Boyle, with many pork producers going out of business.

“In many situations Sid demonstrated he could “think outside the box” and aim for goals that would be a benefit to many.

“One example was when, as Chair of Ontario Pork Producers Marketing Board, he helped develop an export market in Japan for Ontario pork that flourished and still exists today having a positive impact on the sustainable financial returns to Ontario swine farmers,” says Boyle.

Kevin Marriott was inducted citing his love of agriculture and his life-long involvement in farm leadership. He’s served as a member of the Enniskillen and Dawn 4-H Beef Club where he mentored the next generation, and went on to become a member of the Lambton County 4-H Leaders Association; he was a member of the Enniskillen Township Jr. Farmers and director and eventually President of Lambton County Jr. Farmers and participated in many County and Provincial activities. Marriott says that was among his favourite positions.

He also served on the Lambton County Soybean Committee, the Grain Farmers of Ontario, Agriculture in the Classroom, the Lambton Soil & Crop Improvement Association and as well, the Bluewater Conservation Club.

He was a provincial director for the Ontario Soybean Growers for 10 years and was one of the founding directors of the Grain Farmers of Ontario.

Kevin Marriott

He also held a position on the American Soybean Association board.

He led a delegation to Japan in 2008 to promote Canadian food grain beans.
Marriott still grows food grade soybean for the Japanese market.

He was also involved in the national agriculture scene, serving as the Canadian director of the National Biodiesel Board and on the Canadian Farm Debt Management Board.

Marriott, like Stewardson and Fraleigh, has been active in municipal politics. He’s served on Enniskillen Township council 17 years, including 10 as mayor.

In 2020, he was elected to a two-year term as the Warden of Lambton County.

The Lambton Agricultural Hall of Fame has inducted 16 members since it began its yearly ceremonies in 2010.