Patriarch of Canada’s largest family-owned egg farm dies at 94 | CBC News – Daily Frontline

Patriarch of Canada’s largest family-owned egg farm dies at 94 | CBC News
– Daily Frontline

Joe Hudson poses with some of his hens’ eggs outside Burnbrae Farms in Lyn, Ont. Hudson, who took the farm from an eastern Ontario business to one with nationwide scope, died on March 14 at the age of 94. (Submitted by Joe Hudson’s family)

It all started as Joe Hudson’s school project in 1943.

Hudson was raising 50 baby chicks for an agricultural class in Brockville, Ont., and that assignment sparked a bright idea: switching the family’s dairy farm to the egg business instead.

More than eight decades later, Burnbrae Farms is considered the largest family-owned egg farm in Canada, with their products on grocery store shelves across the country.

“Our dad was an amazing man. He was not just a business leader, but also a family man. He was deeply involved in his community,” said his youngest daughter, Margaret Hudson, the company’s current president and CEO.

“But ultimately, he’s the man who helped transform Burnbrae Farms from a family dairy farm into a national company.”

Joe Hudson, whose many accolades include being inducted into the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame, died earlier this month. He was 94.

Several cartons of eggs on a grocery store's shelves.
Cartons of Burnbrae Farms eggs for sale in Ottawa. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

Lived entire life on eastern Ontario farm

Born in Brockville in 1929, Hudson was raised on the family farm in nearby Lyn, Ont.

While his vision was to grow Burnbrae Farms nationwide, he nevertheless lived his entire life on that farm in the small village, his daughter said.

“We laughed about the fact our father literally never lived anywhere else. We counted it — he lived in six houses all within 200 metres of each other,” Margaret Hudson told CBC Radio’s All In A Day earlier this week.

“I just think he loved this farm, and he loved our family and he loved his community and the village of Lyn. I don’t think it ever occurred to him to want to be anywhere else.”

It was around the late 1960s, she said, that her father decided to begin expanding the business.

He struck a deal with the now-defunct Steinberg’s grocery store chain, which had its head office in Montreal. That led to the family buying another farm in Quebec, his daughter said.

A black-and-white photo of a man standing outside on a farm.
Joe Hudson poses for a photo sometime in the 1960s. (Submitted by Joe Hudson’s family)

In the 1990s, Joe Hudson expanded westward, with egg grading stations in cities including Winnipeg and Calgary, and on Vancouver Island, she said. By 1995, their egg products had even made their way into McDonald’s breakfast menus.

In 2012, Hudson was recognized by the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame for forging a “a truly remarkable Ontario-Canadian agribusiness” and being a consistent supporter of “egg-related research.”

Over all that time, he always wanted to make sure Burnbrae Farms remained in the family, Margaret Hudson said.

“A lot of family businesses get sold or they don’t carry on,” she said. “And I think it was really important to him — and important to us — to carry this legacy on.”

All in a Day8:10Remembering Joe Hudson

We remember Joe Hudson, a giant in Canadian agriculture and founder of Burnbrae farms.

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