Margaret Haley and her husband Jim enjoying spring in the woods.

OFT easement donor, Margaret Haley, passed away on March 8, 2021. OFT staff spent time recently with two of her daughters, Ella and Jane, reflecting on how Margaret came to be a farmer, and why it was important to protect a piece of the farm that she loved.

Margaret was a city girl from Brantford, but when she met her future husband Jim and he proposed to her, she left her city life and settled on a farm on Highway 2 just east of Cainsville that would become known as Haleyview Farms. She and Jim transformed their farm into what would become one of the most modern dairy farms in the County at the time.

Margaret had never been on a farm before that, but she instantly fell in love with it. Ella reflects on the story her mom told her about the first time she came to the farm. “Early in knowing Jim, we walked the farm through the fields, it was in the fall and we went into the woods. It was so beautiful.”

Margaret adapted to farm life quickly. She started a large garden. She cooked large meals and baked many pies at harvest time over the years. And, she started her own poultry business. She involved each of her kids in the business and they kept busy grading the eggs.

Jane remembers this as a special time with their mother, “Almost all of us share the memory of special time together while grading and candling eggs, together in the dark. It was a time when we each had her all to ourselves. She would talk about her family history, the great depression, events going on in the world from the radio. We each adored this one on one time together. It meant a lot to us. And it meant a lot to her.”

Margaret carved out special places on the farm for her family. They planted trees, built a pond, and created a natural haven at the back of the property. This area would be the site of many nature walks and picnics over the years. Spring and especially Mother’s Day was a favourite time as the woodland wildflowers were all in bloom – Trilliums, Mayapple, Adder’s Tongue. It was a special place and a special time.

And this is the place that Margaret wanted protected forever with a conservation easement agreement. The section of farmland along the back of the property and this wonderful woodland paradise remain forever for future generations, and the species that make their home there like the Wood Thrush, Eastern Wood-pewee, Boblink, Eastern Meadowlark, Louisiana Waterthrush, and Snapping Turtle.

Margaret was a generous person who loved to help and share what she had with others. This gift of preserving a piece of the land that she so loved was very fitting of who Margaret was and how she saw the world around her.