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McConnell 4-H



The following is from pages 56 to 59 of
McConnell Little Town Lost, 1982

(Click on Picture to Enlarge)

Although the town of McConnell is now but a name, the Beef Club still carries on.

Boys' and Girls' Club work had its beginning in McConnell in the early twenties with the annual school fair being the achievement day. Here the results of various projects were on display with competitions in poultry, swine, calves, horsemanship, garden produce, homecrafts, and school work. Each project had an adult leader in charge on Fair Day. Usually the teacher would be in charge of the school work and the project leaders would act as assistants during the day. It was held on a school day so the pupils were most interested in a change from studies. In the late 1920's the Extension Service recommended specialized livestock projects and gave some financial assistance, as well as the services of a livestock specialist for selection and identifying the animals. Mr. E.G. Wood gave valuable assistance for many years.

Around 1925 the McConnell Swine Club was organized. Each member raised at least two pigs, a gilt and a barrow, either purchased or home raised. Achievement day was set well in advance so the pigs would be the proper weights for market on fair day, usually held around the middle of October. The club stimulated interest in pig raising and increasing the percentage of "selects" shipped through the McConnell Shipping Association, the main marketing channel. The Swine Clubs of Manitoba produced sufficient top quality pigs from which a carload was selected to be exhibited at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto in a provincial carlot competition. McConnell club was usually well represented in this. As all hogs were marketed by railway the C.P.R. and C.N.R. each provided a competition for a trip for two members as a demonstration team on each of their lines in an inter-provincial competition at the Royal. The competition was on Swine judging and public speaking. McConnell club won the trip on C.N. points in 1928, 1929, and 1930.

In 1931 the Canadian Council of Boys' and Girls' Clubs was formed with Breed Associations, Machine Companies, Department of Agriculture, as well as many other members.

The Farm Boys' Camp at the Provincial Exhibition at Brandon was an incentive for boys to take part in judging livestock. A cup was given to the best team of three in the inter-club competition. McConnell won this cup on two occasions, 1929 and 1930. The gold watches were also won in these two years. Quite a number of young people from the district took part in these competitions and also had their first train ride and first trip to Winnipeg as members of the McConnell Swine Club.

In the 1930's as pig prices dwindled and lack of interest resulted, it was decided to form a calf club. In 1933 Mr. Gordon Killoh along with advice from Mr. Wilf Davis, a Field Man for the Dominion Government, formed the McConnell Calf Club, and both swine and calves were shown until the swine club was dissolved in 1936. For many years the Shipping Association of which Mr. J.A. McConnell was Sec.-Manager, gave financial assistance to both club and adult classes at the "Fair". The show was held at the stock yards as long as the cattle were being shipped by rail. The last year it was held there, box cars were ordered as usual but the buyers insisted their cattle be shipped by truck. So no more fairs were held at the stock yards. The show was moved to a site across the road straight east of the school, using the school and community barn for partial accommodation. It was held at this site continuously until 1981, when the McConnell Fat Stock, which had taken over from the Shipping Association, decided to temporarily discontinue their show, due to lack of buyer interest. As a result the 4-H Beef Club decided for 1981 their Achievement Day would be held at the farm of Keith and Agnes (Killoh) Bridge.

In earlier times of club work, emphasis was on methods of feeding, showing and judging. Today the emphasis is more on citizenship, parliamentary procedure, meeting management, public speaking and generally broadening the scope. Conferences, seminars, exchange trips to other provinces as well as the United States and Great Britain all play a big part in the role of 4-H today. Since 1952 the clubs have been known as 4-H Clubs instead of Boys' and Girls' Clubs.

The McConnell 4-H Beef Club as it is known today has through the years had a membership as high as 30 members in 1963-1964 and fell to a low in 1980-1981 of six members. The records of this club date back to 1956. Effective leadership through the years had been carried out by Jack Wright, Andy Little, Mack Hamilton, Ron McConnell, Bruce Paterson, Norman Little, Don McConnell, Carlyle Johnston, Murray Mathison, and currently being carried on by its present leaders Jack and Margaret Boyd and Keith Bridge.

Although records are not available much help was given to the Boys' and Girls' Club prior to this by Gordon and Jim Killoh, Aylmer and George McConnell and C.C. and Norman Brown. (Apologies to any who may have been missed.)

The club has been very active throughout the years. In 1962 the McConnell Beef Club received the Best 4-H Club Award for Manitoba. Six members have been awarded Gold Watches at Rally Day for the best Agricultural member. One member was the recipient of the trip to the National Congress in Chicago. One member and one leader attended the National 4-H Conference in Toronto in 1981 and another member has been chosen to attend in 1982. One leader attended the Alberta Leaders' Conference in 1979 and other members and leaders have attended conferences in Winnipeg or been awarded trips to various places in Canada and the United States. Some of our members have been Provincial finalists in both Public Speaking and Demonstrations. The club has taken an active interest in the Calf Scramble at the Brandon Winter Fair, with many of the boys being fortunate enough to catch a calf. This enabled them to raise and feed a calf and then take it back to the Fair at Brandon to show it in competition with the other winners. Jamborees, camps and bonspiels have provided fun and fellowship with other members.

At the Achievement Day held at the end of June each year club members show their calves and a Club Champion and Reserve Champion are chosen. Members participate in judging, showmanship, and grooming classes. In 1981 after several years of no inter-club competition the club participated in the Inter-Club show at Strathclair with clubs from Strathclair, Shoal Lake, Rossburn, and McConnell competing. A member of the club had Grand Champion calf of the show.

A Rally is held each year where all the clubs in two Ag. Rep. areas compete. On several occasions the club has received first placing for marching or their Educational Display.

None of this could have been accomplished without the hard work done by the leaders, assistant leaders, and the complete co-operation of the members and parents. Community support is also greatly evident.

As we write this the Beef Club is planning to celebrate fifty successful years in 1983. We hope all former members, leaders, agricultural representatives and any one else who has helped over these years will come and celebrate with us.

Margaret Boyd