The remarkable legacy of Millville’s Harry C. Greenlaw (1895-1963)

Although Harry C. Greenlaw died almost 60 years ago, his contributions to his Millville community and the province of New Brunswick and the dynamic economic impact of the agriculture industry on both will forever remain a significant part of New Brunswick's history.

On Oct. 13 of this year, the Dalhousie University Agricultural Campus recognized Greenlaw's remarkable contributions to farming, especially potato production, by inducting him into the Atlantic Agriculture Hall of Fame.

Stan Graham, like Greenlaw, a life-long and dedicated supporter of the Millville and York County community, nominated Greenlaw to the hall's selection committee.

The induction ceremony at Dalhousie University follows Greenlaws's numerous citations, awards and honours, including induction into the Canadian Agriculture Hall of Fame in 1964, a year after his death.

In his nomination letter to the Atlantic Agriculture Hall of Fame selection committee, Graham noted Greenlaw was only one of a half dozen New Brunswickers inducted to the prestigious Canadian Agriculture Hall.

Before his recent move to Somerville, near Hartland, Graham lived more than seven decades in Millville, serving in various volunteer organizations, including almost nine years, from 1983 to 1992, as mayor.

Although only 13 when Greenlaw died, Graham remembers him as a highly respected community member and brilliant orator. As a student of the community's history, Graham developed a vast knowledge of Greenlaw's remarkable contributions and achievements.

Graham's nomination submission highlights many of those achievements which had an indelible impact on Millville, York County, New Brunswick and agriculture throughout the first half of the 20th century.

Born in Millville in 1895 to Howland Ridge farmers Oliver Cromwell Greenlaw and Adra Jane (Flemming) Greenlaw, Harry grew up with an early focus on farming and community service.

Although drafted into military service in 1917, the war ended before Greenlaw left for overseas. The following year, he married Winnifred Clark, and the couple lived in Millville for the rest of their lives.

Despite today's equivalency of a Grade 6 education and humble beginnings, Greenlaw's keen entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to agriculture and community fuelled his successful life.

The Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame citation outlines his numerous achievements over the next four decades.

"His first notable position was as manager of Millville's first farmers' store, owned and governed by local shareholding farmers," notes the citation. "The store bought, sold, and traded commodities. During his time managing the store, Harry began investing in his own farming ventures, purchasing land to produce potatoes."

By the early 20s, Greenlaw's focus turned primarily to farming, with potatoes eventually growing on half of his close to 1,000 acres, complemented by poultry, dairy, beef and hog farming.

Greenlaw's entrepreneurial spirit didn't end on the farm. He ventured into woodland and lumber mill operations and manufactured windows, doors, cabinets, potato shipping crates and other wood crafts.

H.C. Greenlaw Ltd. bought and sold fertilizer, appliances, farm machinery, pulpwood and dairy cream. His construction firm built houses, public buildings, schools, bridges and more across New Brunswick.

His construction efforts also brought needed services to his home community of Millville, including building its first public building to house a bank, Canada Post and residential apartments.

Despite his broad business interests, Greenlaw's interest in his community or agriculture never waned.

Greenlaw held public offices through most of his adult life, serving as York County Councillor between 1921 to 28, and spent 25 years, including 20 as chairman, on the Millville Area School Board.

He served as York MLA from 1944 to 1952, including chair of the agriculture committee from '48 to '52.

In 1948, Greenlaw was a founding member and chair of the Millville Local Improvement District Council.

Harry and Winnie were devoted members of the church community, with Harry spending 25 years as a Sunday School teacher and Millville Union Sunday School Superintendent.

Graham said family members and friends recalled Greenlaw's vast talents as an orator helped his teaching abilities. He explained that Winnie would read a Bible passage to Harry on their short ride to church, which he would then turn into a detailed lesson for the children.

In 1946, to pay tribute to First and Second World War veterans, Greenway provided financial backing and aid to establish the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 59 in Millville. In later years, Graham became an active, dedicated member of Branch 59.

Despite the long list of achievements on the political and community front, Greenlaw's efforts as a pioneer and innovator in the agriculture industry led to his induction to the agriculture halls of fame.

In its citation, the Atlantic Agriculture Hall cited his remarkable efforts to promote and develop markets for New Brunswick potatoes.

"Harry was a visionary in the potato industry and recognized as a major player in the purchase, sale, and export of seed and table potatoes," the citation noted. "Always seeking greater opportunities, Harry was one of the first to explore marketing seed potatoes in South America. He proceeded to develop markets in Argentina and Uruguay."

The N.B. Seed Growers' Association issued the successful nomination to the Canadian Agriculture Hall in 1964, a year after Greenlaw's death.

The induction citation notes Greenlaw's contribution to the growth of New Brunswick's potato industry.

"A man of many talents, he served on the boards of numerous organizations, including the New Brunswick Potato Shipper's Association, of which he was president for 18 years, and the New Brunswick Seed Growers' Association," the Canadian citation reads.

Greenlaw didn't limit his agricultural pursuits to the potato industry. He played an instrumental role in establishing the Dairy Farmers of Canada Association, serving on its first board of directors. He also sat on the board and served as president of the N.B. Dairymen's Association.

Greenlaw spent 20 years as secretary-treasurer of the Millville Branch of the United Farmers' Cooperative, including serving from 1922 to 1939 as its general manager.

He was a board member of the Canadian Horticultural Society, serving as president in 1960. He spent 14 years as a director of the Capital Co-op in Fredericton.

Greenlaw served as president of the N.B. Shorthorn Breeders' Association.

Graham called it a great pleasure to be on hand at Dalhousie University for the Oct. 13 induction ceremony. He watched as Greenlaw's grandnephew Gary Moore and grandniece Adra Trail proudly accepted the citation from Dannie MacKinnon, a director with the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame Board.

Graham, who has researched and has detailed knowledge of Millville's history, called the induction a perfect moment to remind once again the community, the province and the agriculture industry of the remarkable legacy of Harry C. Greenlaw.

Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun