A Farmer’s Life: Farm Work

St. Catharines was well known as an agricultural hot spot in Frederick Lailey’s day – this post card pokes fun at our agricultural prowess (in the days before Photoshop no less!)


Frederick Thomas Lailey, the son of William H. Lailey came from Winona to farm in Grantham Township (now St. Catharines) in 1899. He remained on his Grantham farm until 1926, when he moved to Niagara-on-the-Lake to continue his agricultural pursuits. Lailey started keeping a diary in 1899 and his writings provide wonderful insight into daily life on a St. Catharines farm in the early 20th century – and the wide variety of jobs Frederick had to complete!

Frederick Lailey grew a wide variety of crops on his farm – his diary notes that he cultivated peaches, strawberries, pears, plums, raspberries, currants, grapes, quince, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, onions, peas, sugar beets, oats, clover, corn, wheat and crimson clover. Planting, tending and harvesting occupied much of his time, especially during the summer months, as evidenced by this diary entry from July 19, 1900:

“Pickers again (9) – last of raspberries (practically) picked. 11 crates red currants. Up early and home late. Cut wheat – “Stookes” wheat. Trimmed grapes”*

This diary entry doesn’t make mention of the animals Lailey had to care for on his farm, although other entries describe the work involved in taking care of the horses, cows, pigs and chickens who live on the farm.

*As far as possible, the diary has been reproduced just as it was written, complete with Lailey’s spelling, punctuation, shorthand notations and what may now appear to be outdated language.

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