FORTY YEARS OF PEACEFUL PROTESTHOW A GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT GROUNDED A GOVERNMENT
In 1972, at the time of expropriation, the 126 working farms on this land produced annually: 4 million gallons of milk 200,000 eggs 45,000 bushels of wheat 30,000 chickens 375,000 pounds of pork over a million pounds of beef
Farming has always been a way of life in North Pickering.
So has protest!Elder Barclay and his son Eli were pioneers, farmers and rebels in 1837, in the so-called Famers‟ Revolt. In 1972, and again in 1995 and 2005 Barclay descendants fought to save their ancestral homes from demolition.
The penalty in 1837 In early Ontario protest was often synonymous with treason: the penalty was death. Peter Matthews, settler of Brougham,was hanged beside Samuel Lount and the family lands were takenaway “in perpetuity”. Brougham was known as „Radical Corners‟.
Ever Green Villa, circa 1872Built by Eli Barclay, it was the finest home on the Brock Road. In 1972, it would become the birthplace of POP.
Melody Manor in 1972A century later Ever Green Villa had a new name, Melody Manor. It was still a lovely home outside the thriving rural community of Brougham. As the oldtimers used to say, ‘God was in his heaven and all was right with the world…’
Overnight, the world changed.18,600 acres of Class One farmland had been expropriated for the New Toronto International Airport.
The property is fenced off.Security guards and ‘No Admittance’ in two official languages. As the protests continue and the demolitions begin, there will be barbed wire and tank traps.
In the living room of Melody Manor, People or Planes is born.
Under a picture of the Queen,plans are made. Bill Lishman heads the meeting.
A new generationof rebels springs into actionWith ‘weapons’ made from farm tools, the First Pickering Fusiliersdemand passports at theentry to the federal office of Transport Canada.
Hippies and old ladies use different tactics to gain media attention.
men in suits and farmers in high level meetings
andhousewives with guts
and a senseof theatre
as a massive media campaign is launched
to save the land
and stop Blunderland!
The protest spilled over into Toronto and eventually the entire country.
In Toronto anti-airportdemonstrators wear gas masks and banners bearing the names of communities that will be destroyed.
Despite the protests, the demolitions begin.
Ernie Carruthers holds out, refusing to leave his farm
or the century home where he was born.
Truckloads of rubble, the remains of their neighbours‟ houses, are piled across the lane from their house. Ernie‟s wife cries every day. They give up and plan to move.
As Ernie and his wife move out, POP holds a farewell party – and three women move in.
Without power or telephones, they are cut offfrom the outside world except for a ham radio.
Neighbours ignore security barricades to bring supplies. Weeks go by. The women refuse to leave until --
Suddenly, three years after it began, they‟ve won! It‟s over! Or is it?
Michael Robertson hears bulldozers and rides his horse to a house that is being demolished. He knows the airport’s been stopped. He climbs to the secondstory window and prays, as they continue to batter the house beneath him.
But it really is over. The bulldozers stop.The house is lost, but the battle is won. And the celebration begins!
Then come the questions.Still no answers, thirty-nine years – and counting…
From long-haired to grey-haired It’s been a long fight.
From handsome home
to boarded-up and vandalized.
From boarded-up and vandalized
to a burnt out shell.
But it’s not over!People or Planes lives on --
as Land Over Landings is born.
Working to save forests
and family farms
and cold water streams.
And putting families back in homes.
"Saving the last best farmland in Canadais not pie in the sky, its bread on the table.” Michael Robertson, People or Planes/Land Over Landings
The National Trust of Great Britain was founded in 1895 They saw a need for quiet, pure air, exercise, the sight of the sky and things growing. Their motto: “forever for everyone’‟.
Because some statistics don‟t lie.
And the truth is simple.
“We have a magnificent public asset. As learned manytimes over, however, such a resource can be squandered easily: and once lost, it is gone forever.” Lorne Almack from the Green Door Alliance Federal Lands Prospectus
“We have to move beyond just being against an airport in North Pickering and start pursuing the idea of a Land Trust.” Ajax-Pickering MP Mark Holland