John S. Eyking, the founder and patriarch of Eyking Farms in Millville, N.S., has died at the age of 90.
Eyking died at home Saturday while surrounded by friends and family, said his son, Mark Eyking.
"It's been an emotional few days for our family here and it's been hard. But he was failing, and it started last year, and the last few weeks have been really more challenging with the family," said Eyking, the former longtime MP for Sydney-Victoria.
"When he was gone, he wanted to go like mother went — in his own house. And so a lot of family made that happen in the last few weeks. They spent nights with him and we got a hospital bed in there and everybody rolled up their sleeves."
John S. Eyking, originally from Beverwijk in the Netherlands, immigrated to Cape Breton in 1953. He established Eyking Farms in Millville and continued to show himself as a leader in the agriculture industry for decades.
He was a founding member and president of the United Farmer's Co-op for 10 years and also served on the board of directors for the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency in Ottawa.
Over the course of 22 years, Eyking held every position on the Nova Scotia Egg and Pullet Producers Marketing Board.
He and his wife, Jeanne, had 10 children and more than 60 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Jeanne died in 2017 at the age of 84.
In a 2019 interview with CBC News, Eyking said he and his wife were always hard workers who passed those traits down to their children.
"The children had to help on the farm, which is kind of a Dutch way, immigrant way. We weren't all that well off, so we had kind of an organized household and Jeanne would be up at 5:30 [a.m.] or something," said Eyking at the time.
"They [the children] were to help for an hour or so to do farm chores or grading a few eggs."
The couple was inducted into the Cape Breton Philanthropy Hall of Fame in 2019. The same year, Eyking was inducted into the Atlantic Agriculture Hall of Fame.
Eyking was appointed to the Order of Canada last year in recognition of his personal and professional dedication to Cape Breton, especially within the agricultural community.
He was also an executive member of the Cape Breton Federation of Agriculture, the North Sydney Rotary Club, the Nova Scotia Vegetable Producers' Association, the Bras d'Or Farmers' Association and the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture.
After decades of business, the Eyking Farms enterprise has grown to include 80,000 laying hens, pullet operations and approximately 81 hectares of a variety of vegetables.