Advertisement

Parade of antique tractors celebrates life of late P.E.I. dairy farmer

Jean-Guy Arsenault's sister, Murielle, drives her late brother's tractor as part of the parade.  (Stacey Janzer/CBC - image credit)
Jean-Guy Arsenault's sister, Murielle, drives her late brother's tractor as part of the parade. (Stacey Janzer/CBC - image credit)

A line-up of tractors driven by local farmers took over the streets of Abrams Village, P.E.I. this weekend – a tribute to farmer Jean-Guy Arsenault, who died in 2021.

"He was a member of our club and a good, community-minded fella," said Dennis Gallant, president of the West Prince Tired Iron Antique Club.

Sunday's parade was part of the annual Acadian Festival, which went on all weekend.

Arsenault, a fourth-generation dairy farmer, worked in the community for more than 40 years.

The last tractor he refurbished was driven by his sister in the weekend parade.

Friends remember Arsenault as a devoted farmer.

Jean-Guy Arsenault's refurbished antique tractor is pictured.
Jean-Guy Arsenault's refurbished antique tractor is pictured.

Jean-Guy Arsenault's refurbished antique tractor is pictured. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

"I saw how hard he worked and how dedicated he was to what he did every day," said Marleen Wolfe, the owner of All Farms Realty.

"It didn't seem like life mattered as much as the farm and what went on on that farm."

Now, Arsenault's legacy is inspiring a new tradition. The antique tractor club hopes to honour a different farmer every year to show appreciation for the work they've done.

A sign attached to a trailer shows information about Jean-Guy Arsenault's life.
A sign attached to a trailer shows information about Jean-Guy Arsenault's life.

A sign attached to a trailer shows information about Jean-Guy Arsenault's life. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

"I think it's really important that we, as a province and a country, that we collectively celebrate the lives of farmers," said Wolfe.

"I certainly couldn't eat without them planting and growing. And I think that in the life of a farmer, they dedicate so much time and energy to their farms, they are not recognized in the way they should be."

Jean-Guy Arsenault's siblings, Gilles and Murielle, stand in front of their late brother's refurbished tractor.
Jean-Guy Arsenault's siblings, Gilles and Murielle, stand in front of their late brother's refurbished tractor.

Jean-Guy Arsenault's siblings, Gilles and Murielle, stand in front of their late brother's refurbished tractor. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

Brian Doncaster, the club's event co-ordinator, said they want people to understand the importance of farming and the people who do it.

"People don't realize the food that we eat comes from the fields," said Doncaster.

"Those fields are planted by the farmer and harvested by the farmer and it's important to young people, especially young people, because there aren't as many farms as there used to be."

The future plan is to honour living farmers as well as those who have passed.

An antique tractor parade Saturday in Abrams Village, P.E.I. payed tribute to the life of late dairy farmer Jean-Guy Arsenault.
An antique tractor parade Saturday in Abrams Village, P.E.I. payed tribute to the life of late dairy farmer Jean-Guy Arsenault.

An antique tractor parade Sunday in Abrams Village, P.E.I., paid tribute to the life of late dairy farmer Jean-Guy Arsenault. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

"I love what they do for their families," said Wolfe. "I've just never seen anybody in my life give as much of themselves, tirelessly.

"You could never measure the amount of hours they put in on tractors or how much time they spend on fields and how many family dinners they miss."

More of the antique tractors in the Abrams Village parade.
More of the antique tractors in the Abrams Village parade.

More of the antique tractors in the Abrams Village parade. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

Wolfe said she hopes people take the time to meet local farmers to learn how much work goes into making sure we all get fed.

She also hopes the stories they hear at events like this will inspire the next generation of Island farmers.