Clover Hill Dairy holds special memories for Hietkamp, Vander Weerden families

The Clover Hill Dairy milk delivery wagon in about 1958.

GORE BAY—The sale of the Clover Hill Dairy in Gore Bay closed last week, having been the place where the Hietkamp and Vander Weerden family members had worked, and for a long time, lived.

“It gets a little emotional when you talk about the farm and where we lived for a long time,” said Debbie Hietkamp, of the sale which became official on Thursday of last week. 

“We made it to 60 years and a couple of weeks,” stated Harry Vander Weerden. “We had a full three-way partnership in the farm, with Be (Hietkamps’) dad Albertus and his wife Johanna Woestenenk , myself, and Be and Debbie (Hietkamp) in the partnership. We purchased the farm from Bernie Broesma, who had only owned the farm a couple of years, on May 22, 1961.”

“The members of our family had all moved from the Harriston, Ontario area. My grandparents, Betty and Harry, and my mom and dad,” said Jeff Hietkamp. “My parents and grandparents were all from Holland. When they emigrated in 1953, they  looked at Australia, South Africa and Canada as places they could live. They settled in Canada, my grandmother had a sister in Canada, and she sponsored them on their move to southern Ontario.”

The Clover Hill land was originally owned by George Gorrell and was sold in 1918  to become a dairy for the Purvis family  in 1932, bottling and processing milk.  In 1959 the farm was bought by Bernie Boersma. Two years later the farm was bought by Albertus and Johanna Woestenenk, Harry and Betty Vander Weerden and Be and Debbie Hietkamp. In 2001 Jeff Hietkamp bought the farm and ran it as a beef farm.

“It was  rundown a little when we purchased the farm, and we had to build it up a little,” said Mr. Vander Weerden. “We had the farm and cows, and had to get permission to sell our milk.”

There was a house on the farm property, with three separate apartments within it, said Jeff Hietkamp. “And the processing plant was also in the house. The milk was also bottled inside the house as well.” 

Jeff Hietkamp explained, “all three couples lived there. There were five kids in our family, and Betty and Harry had three children. So there were 14 people in the building at one time.”

The house had two bathrooms with no double sinks.

Ms. Hietkamp pointed out Albertus and Johanna were in the apartment at the front of the house, Betty and Harry lived in the middle apartment, and she and Be were in the apartment at the back of the home, upstairs. “We all had our own apartment but we were close together and worked together. It all worked out really well. We all got along very well.”

“All of the kids went to school in town, and all ended up going to university,” said Ms. Hietkamp.

“We had our own milk cows and processed and  bottled milk, delivering it in town at the dairy and at stores around Western Manitoulin,” said Jeff Hietkamp. “In around 1973 we stopped processing milk (and being a dairy), so the house delivery stopped as well, and my grandparents retired back to southern Ontario. When we stopped processing milk we stopped being a dairy. We had a milking herd and we sold them to Farquhar’s and Wagg’s.” 

Be Hietkamp explained, “at that time dairy wasn’t profitable, we were too small a farm for this, and we sold to Wagg’s, and he sold us the cows and quota.” 

It was at that time that Be and Debbie Hietkamp and Harry and Betty Vander Weerden formed a 50-50 percent ownership of the farm. From 1973 to 1999 the farm produced fluid milk. 

“The milk was pretty much available from Kagawong west, and in Mindemoya there was Wagg’s, and then Farquhar Dairy,” said Mr. Vander Weerden. “In the winter it wasn’t as busy but in the summer the population in the area would double or even triple. It was a very busy time farming. No, you couldn’t do all of this alone.” 

Mr. Vander Weerden pointed out, “Be had been a farmer down country and his parents emigrated to Canada in 1953. I came to Canada (from Holland) around 1956-1957 and met Betty (who is Be’s sister) on the farm in southern Ontario.”

“We continued dairy fluid milk until 2000,” said Jeff Hietkamp. It was at that time he purchased the farm, “and it became a beef farm.”

“I had always said  that I didn’t want to be milking cows past the age of 65 and around 1999, we sold the cows,” said Mr. Vander Weerden. 

Jeff Heitkamp took over the ownership of the farm and raised cows from 2000 on until last week. 

“Jeff did very well on beef farming,” said Mr. Vander Weerden,  who continued to work on the farm until the recent sale of the farm and property.

“There is certainly a long history on this farm,” said Mr. Vander Weerden. “We knew (the sale of the farm) had to come, but over the years it worked out well for Be and I, and then when Jeff bought it, things worked out well for him as well.”

“Twenty years ago we sold the farm to Jeff, and he has been lucky enough to sell the farm again,” said Be Hietkamp.”

“It has all turned out really good over the years,” said Debbie Hietkamp.

“All our families made a living here and made Gore Bay our home,” said Jeff Hietkamp. “This has truly been our home, and it was a priority for all three families to be a part of the community.” His parents moved into a home in Gore Bay in 2000, and  Harry and Betty Vander Weerden built a new home in Gore Bay around 2003.  Jeff and his wife Wendy recently bought the home that Vera Chatwell had lived in, in Gore Bay. 

Jeff Hietkamp noted that a gentleman from Toronto, who is not a farmer, officially purchased the farm property last week and has leased out the pasture and land to area farmers Jim and Birgit Martin.