For the first time ever, a former Ontario Queen of the Furrow sits as President of the Ontario Plowmen’s Association (OPA). Sheila Marshall, of St. Pauls, was acclaimed to the role during the OPA’s Annual Convention, held April 5-7 in Barrie.
“I’m very passionate about the organization,” Sheila says of what inspired her to accept the nomination.
“My dad (Elmer Armstrong) was an avid horse plowman, winning the IPM 1941 gold medal. I always plowed at the International Plowing Match with him when he switched to tractors and I just wanted to carry on the legacy of our family.”
Sheila was chosen as Ontario Queen of the Furrow in 1973.
The program sees local branch Queens compete to represent the upcoming International Plowing Match and Rural Expo (IPM) and the OPA at events across the province.
Sheila credits the Queen of the Furrow program with helping her develop public speaking and networking skills that contribute to her success in achieving the OPA presidency.
“It’s history being made,” she says of a former Ontario Queen landing the top spot on the OPA Board.
It was 2014 when Sheila was asked to be co-chair of the Queen of the Furrow program. The next year she was asked to run for the OPA’s Board of Directors, which she did. She’s currently in her second term on the Board.
Heading into last weekend’s convention, Sheila served as First Vice-President.
She’s not the only former Queen of the Furrow on the Board. Belgrave resident and 2008 Huron Plowmen’s Association branch Queen Margaret Vincent was acclaimed to the role of Zone 3 Director after longtime Director and 2009 OPA President Carl Weber withdrew from the ballot.
“Carl’s numerous years of experience and involvement were definitely an asset for the Zone,”
says Margaret. “It wasn’t wanting to be against him [that I ran], it was wanting to be involved with the organization.”
Carl, of Ayton, was presented with a special gift during the Convention Banquet on April 7 and was recognized with a standing ovation.
Margaret, who is in her second year as President of the Huron Plowmen’s Association, was chosen as her branch Queen of the Furrow in 2007 and competed for the title of Ontario Queen of the Furrow at IPM 2008.
Asked why she decided to run for the OPA Board of Directors, Margaret offers the following:
“Since I was a teenager, I have been lucky to receive support from local mentors and groups to grow as an individual. It is my desire to contribute to the agricultural community that has helped develop me.
“Various experiences have helped shape my appreciation of the tradition and roots of the IPM.
That said, IPMs are not why I decided I wanted the opportunity to serve as a director, it is the people.”
In the role of First Vice-President is Minesing’s Don Priest, with Robert MacLean of the Kingston area serving as Second Vice-President.
Melvin Switzer of Binbrook won the seat for Zone 2. Cayuga’s David Murray, who’s term as OPA President has been completed, was acclaimed into a Director-At-Large position, in addition to his role as Past-President.