Zorra Now - Community Events & Services Magazine -Spring 2023

Zorra Now | Spring 2023 31 FEATURE ARTICLE cows for his salary, perhaps with some of his family,” Beaty offers in his memoirs. “It does not pay off,” he concludes, under the Cold Springs Farm employee model. Despite these setbacks, however, Beaty never shied away from risks. He built a company that, when it came time to sell it following his death in 1994, no one else could have taken over in its complete format. There were some huge corporate names interested in Cold Springs assets at the time but they only wanted portions of the company. None of them had the ability to dream about the next acquisition, or the next diversification project, the way Beaty did in front of his Thamesford desk on those late evenings. Weir laments that the notes and memoirs she digitized to compile her 400-page book cover the business part but not so much the personal part of Harvey Beaty’s life. She seeks to rectify this, to a degree, in the “Acknowledgements” section, where she thanks her husband (also a former Cold Springs Farm employee) and kids “who listened to me enthusiastically talk about Harvey, his life and his humbleness while creating an empire.” And speaking to me about her book and memorial projects, she added, “he was never high on himself. He was high about other people. He always said his employees were his best asset.” Reading through the pages carefully, however, reveals significant references to Beaty’s personality and personal life. He writes, in a section entitled “Private Life with Help from Others,” about his marriage in 1955 to front office employee Erma McFadden, who had lost her husband – the father of her three children (“a ready-made family,” Beaty said) – to cancer. Erma “accepted my proposal of marriage,” he wrote. “I am grateful that she did for we have had many years of pleasant times together.” This statement is followed by a touching passage about her care for the physical challenges related to his paralysis. And Wisdom’s section includes “extracts from a speech made by W. Harvey Beaty to a group (unknown) in the middle 1970s, published here because he reveals his philosophy of life and gives the reader an insight into his character.” In the speech, Beaty talks about his early life on a small mixed farm near Milton without electricity or running water, where “in the wintertime, the pot under the bed usually froze. But we were comfortable, we slept on feather ticks with down comforters. My mother raised geese and we used feathers and down.” It was an era of loose hay piled on wagons and stacked in the barn; of corn and spring grains cut and tied into sheaves then loaded by hand onto wagons and hauled by horses to the barn to be fed into threshing machines or cutting boxes “It was hard work but I enjoyed it,” Beaty wrote. Perhaps not surprisingly given his mother’s enterprising work with poultry, Harvey – the oldest of four – first entered business raising chickens and eggs during his final two years of high school to help pay for post-secondary education in Engineering at the University of Toronto. Not wanting to enter the active overseas fighting of World War Two, Harvey instead sought employment in an agricultural sector supporting the troops. He landed in Seaforth, heading up a flax growing and processing company. Flax fibres, three times stronger than cotton, were used in the war effort for such things as parachute cords. It was in Seaforth that Beaty suffered his debilitating fall from the ladder while removing a tree limb in March 1943. He spent three months in Toronto General Hospital, another month in Seaforth “in bed at my close friend’s home,” and did bookkeeping for his friend’s plumbing business “while continually trying to figure out what I could do with my future.” In September, after consultation with his family, Beaty’s parents decided to give up farming and purchase a feed and seed store in London; at age 27, he rejoined his parents – both in home life and in business. Almost immediately, Harvey’s penchant for dealmaking became evident. Within a year of taking over, the Beatys purchased a feed mill in Thorndale to streamline the supply of grains to the store. The next year, they rented a farm in Westminster Township to grow beans and corn. And in 1947 they were back in the poultry business, first selling baby chicks from a hatchery in Exeter and eventually establishing a first-of-its-kind “cut-up chicken” outlet to serve the city’s home cooks. Aiming to streamline the supply of poultry, Harvey Beaty purchased the farm in Thamesford in 1949. And the rest, as they say, is history – a history meticulously detailed in Weir’s digitized collection of memoirs and writings. A second book is in the works. Weir learned that one former Cold Springs Farm staffer possesses every single edition of the employee association newsletter, which was published from 1984-94. She’s going to compile excerpts from these into “Part 2” of the Cold Springs Farm story. To purchase the book, visit https:/www.lulu.com/ and search for “Harvey Beaty.”