The Elephant Who Wouldn’t Leave

Published January 1, 2014

By Mallory McClinchey

Like many Canadian families around the holidays, I was sitting around a table surrounded by members of my family. The conversation flowed along with the wine pouring into our glasses. It was 2010, and Mr. Ackerman, a long-time family friend, was telling all of us about the federal government expropriating the prime farmland belonging to his late wife’s family. Nearly unchallenged, they followed through with the expropriation; and a long two years later, construction began. Hundreds of acres of prime farmland now multiple suburban residential dwellings. Regretfully, we didn’t know then what we know now.

85 year old Frank Meyers knows this story all too well. He was born and raised on his farmland. And for the past seven years, he has been dealing with the elephant on his land – our federal government and the Department of National Defence (DND). With the expansion of Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Trenton and the new JTF-2 base came the expropriation of 12 homeowners’ properties. Eleven reluctantly came to an agreement, in fear of losing what they have worked so hard for. But Frank stands his ground – he wants his Farm.

The farm along Meyers Creek Road has been in his family since 1798, when King George III gave and granted 1000 acres to Captain John W. Meyers, his heirs and assigns forever. Each land patent came with restrictions – Captain Meyers was required to build a dwelling, clear part of the land for farming and maintain the peace. He was found to be in compliance, and the land patent was issued. As a result of said land patent, Frank Meyer’s farmland should have been exempt from crown and legislature, and yet they began to harass Frank when he continued to refuse to come to an agreement.

Frank and Marjorie, his ill wife, were subjected to a number of requests by government officials. Those involved requests for soil tests to find contaminants, but none were found. Barn swallows prevented them from the deconstruction of his family barn built in 1818, but later informed Frank they would be following through with their plan to demolish in January 2014. In the meantime, they have been building an arsenal of ammunition under his barn. They threatened to have SPCA remove his cattle in 2007 if he did not surrender or sell them himself. They installed “No Trespassing” signs on the gate and fence surrounding his farmland. They assigned military police to stand guard, with weapons, on his property. When Frank needed to go to his barn or work his farm, he had to negotiate his way past the military police officials. And if anyone questioned the officials or stood by the gate, the OPP were quick to arrive to clear out the area, leaving all questions unanswered.

The day they broke him down to sign the expropriation agreement, Frank had not slept for nearly three days. His wife had had major surgery, and Frank was worriedly awake by her side. He believed he was travelling to Toronto that morning to meet with a Judge to challenge the expropriation. Instead he was bombarded with threats yet again. If he didn’t sign in that moment, they would send a notice of arbitration, and Frank would be lucky to receive half of their offered compensation for his prime farmland. Frank signed.

This issue is not just one farmer losing his farm, his heritage, and his pride. It’s much larger than that. The issue is our federal government eliminating what Class 1 prime agriculture land Canada has left. According to 2011 Statistics Canada, in just the last 30 years, we have lost more than 2 million acres of this very land for mineral extraction, urban and non-farming development.

In Ontario, farms and the food processing sector generate over 35% of Canada’s Agri-food GDP, as per 2011 Statistics Canada. Farms also provide fiscal stability for local governments.

For the sake of expanding a military base, the government has expropriated Frank Meyer’s farmland. A few weeks ago, the government told Frank to go North of Madoc and farm there, on land full of rock. This action is destroying our food supply, bullying our elders, and eliminating our remaining Prime farmland, but Canadians will not allow this any longer. Through Facebook, Save Frank & Marjorie Meyers Farm has reached more than 13,500 people. With this support system, Frank has gathered enough resources to file an application for signing under duress and to have his day in a higher Court to fight for his constitutional right. We protect our National Parks, and now it’s time we finally protect our farmland.

To all those involved representing the government who were on Frank’s land without his permission, that is criminal trespassing. Under the Criminal Code of Canada, the unlawful expropriation is a Breach of Trust by public officers, Intimidation and Extortion, carried out by all of those involved.

5 Responses to “The Elephant Who Wouldn’t Leave”

  1. Donna_Baylis January 8, 2014

    I continue to ask: Why is the federal government expropriating farmland to expand CFB Trenton when CFB Borden is under-utilized? CFB Borden has 21,000 acres of land, including a 6,000-acre training area and 460 buildings. CFB Borden is for all intents and purposes idle. The expropriation of land to expand CFB Trenton is wrong for a number of reasons:

    1. Frank Meyers’ land is productive farmland helping to provide Canadians with food security.
    2. CFB Borden in Angus is inactive and available to DND training requirements.
    3. Communities local to CFB Borden welcome/rely on activity on the base and its residents.
    4. Several DND bases have been idled yet the Department is expropriating
    more land.
    5. Mr. Meyers is 86-years old and has farmed his heritage property for his
    entire life.
    6. Expropriation of Mr. Meyers land is a disrespectful and irresponsible
    way to treat an elder.
    7. Expropriation is only appropriate if used for the greater good of all
    Canadians, which is not the case here.

    Why are Canadian taxpayer dollars being wasted by our Representatives not looking at the big picture? #FoodAndWaterFirst

  2. thunder January 7, 2014

    keep up the good work! we’re behind you!

  3. Karen Mahon January 1, 2014

    Hi Tom,
    My Crown Patent makes the following reservation: And also saving and reserving to Us our Heirs and Successors all Mines of Gold and Silver that shall or may be hereafter found on any part of the said parcels or tracts of land hereby given and granted as aforesaid. Provided always that if any of the several lots on pieces of land hereby granted by us to the Said Canada Company, their successors or Assigns, or any part thereof Shall be required for Canals, Roads the Erection of Forts, Hospitals, arsenals, or any other purpose connected with the defence or security of our Said Province, these all and every Said lands which may be so required for any or either of the Said purposes Shall revert to and become vested in Us Our Heirs and Successors upon a requisition being made be null and void and of none effect, anything herein contained to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding.

  4. Stephen Hull January 1, 2014

    It appears at first blush as though “we” have given all levels of beaurocracy the powers to do whatever they individually or collectively want to. Only we haven’t given them those powers…the few have crafted the rules with the end game of making us all their “subjects”. I know all about that from our own personal battle with the Town of Greater Napanee where they shut down our building without just cause…because they deemed a building unsafe that is attached to ours. In the court’s opinion, and this is supported in previous cases, we all appear to be responsible for the condition of our neighbour’s property.
    It’s time that all arms of the public service were held accountable “on the spot”, at the local level, so that we are all not forced to process lengthy court appeals. The bureaucrats know the process, and use this to do whatever they want, knowing the pain to the landowner in fighting the injustice. Ombudsman is too small and not reachable for the small guy. If we, as a society continue down this path, we are surely doomed. I am continually reminded of all the atrocities that are committed ion the name of progress, and at the plight of the common “little guy”. As far as the government agencies being on Frank’s land illegally…the whole point is that they don’t believe the laws apply to them, or only apply those which suit their cause.
    Are we to believe that because this country is a better place to live than Syria, or African Republic, or countless other countries in turmoil that we should not strive for better and more integrous treatment of individuals? Integrity….that word is not presently in any government dictionary.
    Just look up the Craig Morrison story in New Brunswick (the movie “still mine”) to see what can happen when you challenge the Municipality.

  5. Grace Joubarne January 1, 2014

    Something fishy is happening…on one hand they are cutting back on military/defense spending, but on the other they are expanding assets…somebody intends to end up with a lovely farm. The mafia runs the country.

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