By Charlie Senack, Barrhaven Independent
The Log Farm in Barrhaven is now able to move ahead with some infrastructure upgrades after a generous donation from two former Ottawa Exhibition directors.
The Ottawa Ex, which was a summer staple in Ottawa for generations, held its last fair in 2010. The 11-day exhibition was founded in 1888, and was a yearly staple at Lansdowne Park. When the site was to be revitalized, the carnival had to find a new home. They tried for years to bring the family-favourite attraction back, but they were out of luck.
It then took many more years for the board to officially dissolve, and when it did, there was a large pot of former Ottawa Exhibition’s surplus revenue which had to be distributed to Agriculture-oriented organizations. Each director — and there were 18 total — were given $10,000 to give to an Agriculture organization of their choosing.
Manotick residents David and Lyn Presley helped put on the exhibition for decades and were a big part of the fair’s success. David, president of the exhibition association, gave his donation to the Kemptville Farmers market. His wife Lyn, alongside fellow board member Karl Droncheck, decided to put their funds together for the Log Farm. A $20,000 cheque was handed over during a presentation in October 2021.
“I researched the Log Farm a little bit on the internet and I remember someone I knew worked there years ago. I had never been there so decided to check it out. They are great people who present to families and kids, and keep them educated about animals and agriculture,” she said. “They need to learn that milk does not come from a carton; it comes from a cow. The kids can touch and feed the animals; it’s just really, really nice.”
“They do so much for families at Halloween and Christmas, not to mention the Farmer’s Market which is wonderful,” echoed her husband David. “You can go and sit under the trees and just enjoy the farm from the mid 1800s. It really is a step back in time.”
David and Lyn are household names in the area, known for their extensive work with organ donor advocacy. In March 2013, David received a life-saving kidney transplant, and since then has been working alongside Lyn for the Kidney Foundation of Canada and the Trillium Gift of Life.
A Life Saving Donation
The Log Farm is a mid 19th century farm, located at 670 Cedarview Rd. just outside of Barrhaven. The 110-acre site is one of the oldest working farms in the city. The Bradley family settled on the land in the mid 1800’s, where Abraham Bradley and his wife Matilda raised nine children. The property, now owned by the National Capital Commission, was leased to the Orr family for 20 years back in 2017.
Larry Orr, who manages the farm alongside his family, said they appreciate the donation, which will help them speed up projects which have been in the works for years.
“For a small family business like us, it is huge. It changes a lot of things for us,” he said. “People need to have access and see what farms and their animals are like close up. The funding will be used to build some new shelters for our animals, and we are also going to add some new seating and picnic tables to our farmers market that we run during the summer. It is going to go a long way for things that we have been wanting to do, but frankly just were not in the position to do. These projects were scheduled for years from now.”
The Log Farm has been a part of the community for years, but continues to expand the services it provides. Besides it’s popular summer farmers market, they now offer sugar bush activities in the spring and Christmas-oriented celebrations in December. They also have pumpkins and other harvest activities in the fall, and various other markets throughout the year.
“By adding different things, we have focused on catering to young families,” said Orr. “The farm is really about a destination for families with children under 10. Other people enjoy it of course and are welcome, but its really the kids who get to see what farm life is like. It is an actual operating farm.”
Because there is still a large chunk of funding left from dissolving the Exhibition, the Presleys say every agriculture fair in district one will receive $15,000. The five main fairs in Ottawa, including the Richmond Fair, will receive $500,000. The rest of the money will go towards various bursaries to help youth involved with exhibitions continue their success.
“I am really happy about the bursaries,” said Lyn, who has no biological kids, but deeply touched the lives of many youth over the years. “There will be a lot of kids who will benefit from that. They can be kids of show people or anyone who works with the fairs.”
The Log Farm says they plan to honour the Exhibition by placing a plaque acknowledging the donation. Other fairs are being asked to use their portion of the money to be put towards key infrastructure upgrades.
During his last state of the city speech on Jan. 26, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said an old-fashioned exhibition would be returning to Lansdowne Park this summer, which will celebrate 30 years since council fought to save the Aberdeen Pavilion, also known as the Cattle Castle.
“I know it will bring back some good memories for many residents who enjoyed the Ex and probably create some new ones for those who weren’t around at the time,” Watson said.
The Log Farm received a $20,000 donation in the fall thanks to two former Ottawa Ex directors.