Roger Bacon, an auctioneer and farmer-turned politician who briefly served as Nova Scotia premier in the early 1990s following the resignation of John Buchanan, died Monday evening at the age of 95.
The lifelong dairy farmer may have led the province for fewer than six months, but he left his mark in other ways, including helping pioneer the cultivation of blueberries in Nova Scotia.
He was also a lifelong advocate for agricultural education, a dedication that earned him an honorary doctorate from Dalhousie University in 2005. The university's faculty of agriculture also offers a scholarship in his name, awarded to a Nova Scotia student planning a career in farming.
Although Bacon sat in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly for 23 years, representing the people of Cumberland East, now Cumberland South, he was a reluctant politician, according to his granddaughter Patricia Auchnie.
She said he initially had to be convinced to run for public office, first municipally, then provincially.
"He reached so many people," said Auchnie. "He cared about other people."
Recalling his easy manner in dealing with others, Auchnie said Bacon "made you feel like the most important person in the room."
Bacon was first elected to Province House in 1970, but it wasn't until his third consecutive win in 1978 that he was named to cabinet by Buchanan, the Progressive Conservative leader who became premier following the party's election victory that year. Buchanan made him minister of tourism, then added environment to his responsibilities. Bacon then spent a decade as minister of agriculture.
In 1989, Buchanan named him deputy premier, just five months before Buchanan resigned to take a seat in the Canadian Senate. Bacon was chosen interim PC leader and named premier on Sept. 12, 1990. He handed over that job to Donald Cameron, who won the party's leadership in February 1991.
In a statement Tuesday, Premier Tim Houston called Bacon "a tireless and dedicated public servant and a pioneering farmer who helped transform Nova Scotia's blueberry industry."
"Our province is better and stronger because of his many contributions," said Houston.
The flags at Province House are flying at half-mast in honour of the former premier.
There's a Department of Agriculture building in the community of Bible Hill that carries his name, and there's a Roger Bacon bridge in the community of Nappan, not far from his family's farm.
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