Jean-Noël Dessaint

Ottawa and Countryside

Born in Sarsfield on December 25, 1918, Jean-Noël Dessaint wanted to be recognized as a Franco-Ontarian by his Anglophone compatriots. It was not always easy since he had to leave his village and the peaceful family home to continue his education in English at Rockland High School as a teenager. Throughout his life, he remained greatly concerned about the language issue, which he championed actively during his career as a model farmer and a farm community leader.

A dairy producer based in Sarsfield, Dessaint was at the leading edge in terms of soil management. He was among the first farmers, Anglophones and Francophones alike, to take an interest in herbicides, in the early 1940’s, and in subsoil draining a few years later. He demonstrated his leadership mostly through the Soil and Crop Improvement Association, both at the local and provincial levels. He was the founding president of the Association in Russell County in 1950 as well as the provincial president in 1980. He was also the head of many Franco-Ontarian organizations, namely L’Union des cultivateurs franco-ontariens and was the founding president of the Advisory committee of Alfred College in 1982

The Frenchman, as his Anglophone counterparts used to call him, was an inspiration for the Franco-Ontarian farmers. His passion for agriculture and his great dedication as a leader resulted in the Franco-Ontarian farming sector today being seen as a model by many people.