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1915: 1917 - O. W. Hembling Buys Fruit Ranch

Orris Woolner Hembling was born in Bloomingdale, in Waterloo County, Ontario in 1877. After harvest excursions to Saskatchewan and Manitoba, he took up a homestead six miles west of Didsbury, Alberta. In 1900 he married Minnie Beamish, also from Ontario, at the Baptist parsonage in Calgary.

Before long, the business opportunities in Didsbury proved more inviting than farming and O.W. found work in the building trade. He and his growing family lived in Didsbury for 18 years. In April, 1917, the Hemblings disposed of the farm, sold the house in town and moved to Oyama. They named the 30 acre property, Pinehurst Ranch. Here Orris was a successful orchardist.

Orris was active in community work. He was a member of the Committee of Direction (fruit growing industry) and served as a director of the Vernon Fruit Union (V.F.U.) for thirteen years, the last nine of which he was president of this organization. From 1923 to 1934 he also acted as a director of the Associated Growers of B.C. and served as vice-president on several occasions.

In 1926 he talked about initiating marketing legislation for fruit. The idea did not bear fruit at first but in 1933, Hembling, along with a committee of ten primary producers, met in Regina to push for a Federal marketing act. As a result, the Natural Products Marketing Act was passed on June 7. 1934.

Hembling relinquished the vice-presidency of the Associated Growers and the presidency of the V.F.U. to take his place on the Tree Fruit Board. In 1934 he travelled to Ottawa and on to London to attend the Empire and Commonwealth Fruit Growers Conference. In the spring of 1935, under both provincial and federal legislation, the B. C. growers voted 96% in favour of continuing with the B. C. Fruit Board.

Minnie Hembling died in 1947. O.W. later married Johanna Cummins, in 1949. Orris died on February 27, 1967, just a few months short of his 90th birthday.

Source: Lake Country Museum archives