Huntley history rooted in agriculture

Editor’s note: The following column is reprinted with permission from Ottawa Valley Grain Product’s quarterly newsletter, The Mill Report:

CARP – The Village of Carp and Huntley Township have always had a strong agricultural basis. The fertile clay loam soil in the valley of the Carp River supports some of the richest farmland in Eastern Ontario. It is no wonder the Carp Agricultural Society and its Carp Fair are among the oldest of their respective institutions in Ontario. 

Most of Huntley’s first settlers came from European agrarian societies, many from Ireland where economic conditions were continuously worsening. Naturally, agricultural endeavours provided many early settlers their primary source of income. The earliest records indicate in 1829, there were 1,438 acres of land under cultivation. The principle crops in the mid-1800s were potatoes, oats and spring wheat. Butter and wool were also heavily produced in the area.

It is evident settlers tried to utilize every ounce of new land they owned. You can see evidence of this today through the fencing that is still in place. Settlers needed to abide by the regulations concerning the keeping of livestock and fences, such as stump, log and stone are reminiscent of early ‘ag’ life. They are illustrations of the way in which nothing the land provided was wasted, if at all possible.

While the western part of Huntley engaged in mixed farming, the southern township’s emphasis was on dairy farming. The dairy farmers would take their milk to the cheese factories in the area daily and were a major part of the Huntley farming community at that time. 

By the 1870s, early Huntley dwellers were settling in and establishing their homesteads. An 1871 report indicates there were 17, 642 acres of land under cultivation. Since 1850, production of potatoes in the township had doubled, production of oats had quadrupled, and livestock had greatly increased. 

Carp was fast becoming a reputable farming community; “it is almost entirely composed of the very finest soil, and many of the best farms in the county are here to be seen.”  By the end of the 1800s, Huntley agriculture was booming, and all the hard work of the early settlers was finally paying off. 

Ottawa Valley Grain Products (OVGP) is proud of the rich agricultural history of Huntley Township. As part of the company’s expansion in the 1960s and 1970s, OVGP acquired a feed mill in Cobden, as well as the current-day mill location in Carp, which was originally the site of a flour mill that dates back all the way to 1827.  

Today, OVGP proudly remains a family-owned and operated business in its fourth generation, and continues to stone mill all-natural, high-quality whole grain products right here in the Ottawa Valley. OVGP is proud to have contributed to the local economy for nearly 90 years and remains committed to supporting the local agricultural ecosystem through the purchase of its products directly from farmers in the Ottawa Valley and surrounding area.