The property where Bow Park Farm resides has a long history. In the early 1600s, the land was home to the Neutrals and by the mid-1600s the Iroquois took over the Neutral land during the Beaver War. The land became an Iroquois hunting ground before it was home to settlers in the 1850s.
Bow Park Farm
140 Oxbow Road, Brantford
Photo Courtesy of Brantford Public Library
The Honourable George Brown, one of the Fathers of Confederation, founder of the Toronto Globe newspaper and the namesake for George Brown College purchased the farm in 1866. It was said that Brown’s happiest days were spent at Bow Park. His successful family included daughters Margaret and Catherine who both graduated from the University of Toronto, becoming some of the first women to do so.
Brown’s newspaper, the Globe, was popular for providing information on the anti-slavery movements in the United States, Great Britain, and the British North American colonies during the 1840s and 1850s, and was one of the leading advocates of the Canadian anti-slavery movement. In 1936 the Globe absorbed The Mail and Empire to form The Globe and Mail, which is still in circulation today.
Named after the bow in the Grand River, the Bow Park farm consists of nearly 1000 acres of sandy and rich river bottom soil. The farm became the agricultural centre for breeding shorthorn cattle, Clydesdale horses, sheep, pigs and poultry. At one point it had one of the largest herds of shorthorn cattle in the world. In the 1800s 68 cattle were purchased for $200,000, which at the time was the most expensive cattle purchase in Canada.
Farm help was employed from Scotland and visitors from all over the world came to visit the farm. For much of the 20th century, Canadian Canners used Bow Park as an experimental farm, producing vegetable seed varieties grown specifically for the Canadian climate. It was the first farm in the County of Brant to work with hybrid seed corn. The property even has a rare oil well that sometimes produces its own oil.
In 1978, Bow Park Farm was purchased by the Hilgendag family who produce top-quality pedigreed wheat and soybean varieties and high-tech seed cleaning equipment.