By June Grant
The Century Plus Farm of Donald Stevens, located on west river road 137 (just north of the Science Hill Golf Club) has been in his family since his great-great-grandfather Faithful Stevens obtained the land from the Canada Company in 1859.
David Stevens, Don’s father was born and raised at that farm and “it was the location of the farm that fostered young David’s interest in trapping…” In 1926, both David Stevens and boyhood friend Cal Martin made the switch from trapping to mink ranching. This was the start of mink ranching in the St. Marys area. At one time there was some 30 ranchers within seven miles of St. Marys.
In 1938 Dave purchased an additional farm on the edge of St. Marys and in 1943, established a herd of Holstein dairy cattle on this farm. This prize-winning herd would go on to become one of the most prominent herds in Canada, exporting quality breeding stock throughout the world.
Aways looking to expand into new ventures, in 1961 David Stevens completed an important purchase of 44 purebred Yorkshire swine, believed to be the largest importation by a single Canadian breeder at that time. This was the foundation breeding stock in Stonetown’s swine breeding and growing facility. This facility was managed by long-time employee, Jake Crowder for 30 years.
Dave Stevens’ sons were also actively involved in the farming operation. John Stevens managed the mink operation which by this time was located where Thamesview Crescent is now and Don Stevens and his wife Leita continued the development of the prized Holstein herd. In 1986, the herd was dispersed and attracted buyers from around the world.
David Stevens was an innovator in the agricultural sector but was also active in the community. He served as Mayor of St. Marys in 1955-56 and was also instrumental in bringing Junior B Hockey to St. Marys.