When the Annapolis Valley Exhibition rolls around for its 93rd year on Aug. 12 in Lawrencetown, people will be thinking about Doug Miller.
He once said in an interview he quit farming when his knees gave out. But Miller never slowed down. Ask folks in the office at the Valley Ex. Or drop by the Lawrencetown Farm Museum next door.
They’re dedicating the 2019 edition of the Valley Ex in his honour.
He could mow hay, milk cows, muck out a stall, mend a fence, get up before dawn, and he volunteered countless hours promoting agriculture through his various positions at the exhibition.
He could make jam.
And he never wanted people to forget the old ways of farming and the rural Nova Scotia lifestyle. When he did finally quit farming, it was his old machines and farm tools that were the basis of today’s farm museum.
Miller passed away in Kentville in January at the age of 83. A lot of people miss him.
Folks at the Valley Ex were deeply affected by the loss of such a long-time contributor, friend, and fountain of knowledge. Page 2 of this year’s exhibition program is devoted to Miller.
“Doug was a country gentleman; considerate, kind, trustworthy, and generous,” the tribute reads. “To neighbours, friends, and family he was devoted and very special.”
Miller spent his first 60 years farming in Clarence, hardly more than a stone’s throw from the exhibition grounds in Lawrencetown. He had a dairy farm and later raised beef cattle.
He retired in 1995, got married to Janet, and moved to Kentville.
“For over 62 years Doug gave a whole new meaning to the word ‘volunteer’ and wore many hats (director, vice-president, president positions) on several Ex committees such as General Committee, Fruit & Vegetable (of which he was chairman for many years), Planning, Building, Emergency Advisory Program, Tug of War, Special Trophy Prize Committee,” the program notes.
He exhibited fruit, vegetables, and later baking, jams, and pickles.
“He was also invited to judge at other exhibitions in the province and was an active member of the Valley Gardeners Club, Kentville,” the program reads. “He loved nature, gardening, jigsaw puzzles, reading, and strolls on any beach.”
For the last 20 years he was president of the farm museum, only stepping down in 2018 due to ill health.
“In 1998 when he sold his century farm, he had a vision to create a place at the Ex to display farm artifacts,” the Valley Ex tribute said. “The farm museum became a reality first in Barn #1 and then moved into the Demonstration Building. Doug, along with Janet, volunteers and a committee working together have gathered, cleaned, catalogued, and displayed many artifacts over the years.”
The tribute said Miller is gone but will never be forgotten.
“Perhaps if you listen really closely you just might be able to hear a distinctive laugh and an all too familiar reply ‘grouchy as ever,’” it said. “We miss you Doug, rest in peace and many thanks for your contribution.”