Mr. Léon Delorme (1920-2012) was born in Wendover on September 6, 1920, to a family of eight. After his elementary education at the village school, our recipient attended the Petit Séminaire d’Ottawa where he eventually graduated with a bachelor of arts in 1943. Attracted by a career in agronomy he went to the Institut agricole d’Oka, and he graduated four years later with a bachelor of agricultural science from the University of Montréal.
As a student, he worked for two summers with the agronomist Ferdinand Larose at the Ontario Department of Agriculture in Plantagenet. After graduating, in 1947, he was hired as an assistant agronomist and field man for the Prescott and Russell counties, in Plantagenet as well.
Without a doubt, this job with Larose helped him recognize the importance of soil management in our communities. This concern became the stepping-stone to local and international accomplishments. However, Delorme’s goal was not to plant trees as Larose, who was an agronomist-environmentalist, but to feed the world using the same soils.
His actual farming career started in 1953 when he purchased his first farm, a “hobby farm” as he used to call it. The land in the Curran area was located across a tree plantation of the Larose Forest, a result of the work his first boss undertook 25 years before. For the young agronomist who had become a farmer, things didn’t go so well from the start with almost no equipment to farm 10 acres of potato, in addition to raising a young, growing family.
Delorme married Yvette Montreuil from L’Ancienne-Lorette on October 2, 1950. The couple made their home in Plantagenet and had five children – Daniel, Louis, Marie-France, Line, and Lorraine – between 1952 and 1961. All five certainly contributed to the success of the business, Léon Delorme Ltée, giving a helping hand when necessary.
Between 1953 and 1981, our recipient became a renowned potato producer and purchased several neighbouring farms. Thanks to his agronomic knowledge, he saw his barely fertile land become a prosperous farm. This success was the result of subsoil drainage, the adaptation of growing methods taking into account the varieties seeded, a better knowledge of the different types of soil and the introduction of modern production techniques.
With the purchase of additional farms, the weak spot quickly became the lack of specialized equipment to keep advancing the business. In order to address this gap, Delorme became a potato and onion farming equipment distributor in Eastern Ontario and Quebec in 1963. Unknowingly, he was an integrator, in the true sense of the word, for potato farming. As a vendor with the Lockwood Corporation, he travelled the neighbouring province and Eastern Ontario many times, in addition to managing the farm and doing the farm chores. As a good manager, he became an excellent distributor and vendor for the company. In 1967, 1968 and 1969, he was proclaimed top seller in North America for the Lockwood Corporation – French Connection.
In 1980, his entrepreneurial passion surfaced again. He bought the Plantagenet printing shop. This purchase is another aspect of Delorme’s administrative and managerial skills. Today, the printing shop is owned by Louis Delorme, the second son of our recipient.
After selling the farm to his eldest son Daniel in 1981, Delorme could have chosen to rest, relax and play golf as many people of his age do, but instead, he decided to go to Africa. Recognized for his remarkable skills as a farm manager and for his agronomic knowledge, he embraced a new dream at age 82. Returning from a trip to Cameroun, Africa, where the Guadeloupe foundation asked him to analyze the soils in order to improve the cropping possibilities, he decided to get involved personally to help the African people. He shared his ideas with colleagues and surrounded himself with volunteers in order to raise the necessary funds to build an agriculture college, which would feature a department of arts, trades, and business, in addition to a credit union. With the help of Mr. Gaston Gaudreau, a Bourget businessman, he founded the Vision Léon Delorme Internationale foundation. With the financial support from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), a total of $100,000, including $26,000 raised locally, was sent to Cameroun the first year for the construction of the agriculture college. Funds were collected through various activities, especially golf tournaments. Over a period of three years, financial support was sent to Cameroun and Honduras.
The Léon Delorme Ltée farm, which is now owned by Nicholas Henrard, still remains one of the biggest potato farming business in Ontario, on the sandy loam soils which once appeared to be dedicated to a much different purpose – that is tree planting.