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Gordon Kohl Highland Award of Excellence

Gordon Kohl

Terri Barr, Barrking Hill Farm, Exeter, On (2008)

A Little History

Gordon “Crop” Kohl, a lawyer by profession, dedicated almost 30 years to the enhancement and promotion of Highland cattle. He was instrumental in the development of the Society having drafted the current Society Bylaws after serving as Chairman of the Constitution Revision Committee for over 10 years. Our Society Bylaws are recognized by high-level Federal administrators as a model for the industry. He also wrote “Canadian Breeder’s Guide to Highland Cattle”, which he unfortunately did not have time to have translated before his passing in early 2001. During his life, he also produced videos and slide shows, corresponded with breeders from all five continents, organized visits of international breeders to Canada and took part in the International Gathering of the Clans in Montreal, 1992. He may be best known for taking on Agriculture Canada during the Mad Cow Disease crisis, when he fought to save his bull “Gille Buidhe of Benmore” from being destroyed. Unfortunately, the bull died of natural causes before the case could be settled.

The Award

The Gordon Kohl Highland Award of Excellence was conceived by Claude Robitaille and Gil Dupont of Ferme H.R.D. in 2000. Together they have been raising Highlands since 1994 and have had many stories to share since that time. Very active in the Society, they generously sponsored the creation of this award. The presentation of this award is given in memory of the late Gordon “Crop” Kohl, to those members who make an outstanding contribution to the Highland breed and/or the Society.

Nomination forms are sent out with the February newsletter and those that are received back are presented to the Directors at the AGM, so a recipient can be chosen. The nominations are read and deliberated on before a vote is taken to choose the winner. Although candidates can be nominated many times, they can only receive the award once in their lifetime. If you’ve nominated someone before who hasn’t been chosen, try again. Claude and Gil wanted the award presented only when truly merited, so a recipient may not be chosen every year.

The trophy was chosen by former President, Director & Secretary-manager, Lesley Jackson and is a large pewter Quaich with two handles that in Scotland would be used to toast friendship. In 2008, the cup was mounted on a handsome wooden base to accommodate more names, also sponsored by Claude & Gil. The recipient of the trophy retains the cup until the next winner has been chosen and they are also given a smaller Quaich to keep.

Past Recipients

The first recipient of the award in 2000 was Don Badger of West Bolton, Quebec. As a close friend of Gordon Kohl’s, he was deeply honoured to be presented the award at the AGM in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Don uses the brand name, Jadhore Le Boeuf, to market his beef and has been instrumental in helping many Highland breeders in his area establish their herds, tirelessly answering questions and providing information.

In 2001, the award was given to honorary life member, David Pease and life member, Nancy Pease, both from Glen Osprey Farm. They were unable to attend the AGM when the award was given and were surprised when they received the cup in the mail. Although they have not had Highlands for a number of years, they are still active in the Society, taking phone calls from Highland breeders from across North America and helping Highland breeders in their area to this day. A line from their Thank-you letter read “Fresh ideas from differing perspectives can be harnessed to create a strong and united organization where every individual member is a welcome participant.” This is as true today as it was in 2001.

In 2002, Rob Lindsay of Rocky Spring Fold in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan received the award. In 1929, Rob’s Aunt Mary imported 7 Highlands to Canada and established a herd in Saskatchewan. Rob’s herd started in 1969 with the purchase of 3 heifer calves from Aunt Mary, and after a couple of years more followed. Rob keeps a large commercial cowherd, with both purebred Highland cows and a variety of cross breeds. He was the first Highland breeder to send Highland steers to a commercial feedlot, where they were sold and graded “on the rail” as carcass beef. Rob was also involved with research projects dealing with feed efficiency and carcass data in regards to Highland cattle and has served as a Director and hosted an AGM. Rob was surprised and honored to be recognized for his contributions to the breed.

In 2003, Stewart Torrie of Glen Aspen Fold in Medicine Hat, AB was the chosen nominee. Stewart has acted as Director, Vice-President and President of the Society and he and his wife, Lilian hosted the AGM that was held in Medicine Hat in 1991. Stewart was one of the first breeders to export Highland semen and embryos outside of Canada. His bloodlines can be seen in cattle in Argentina and Uruguay as well as the Czech Republic, Australia and New Zealand. The Highland embryos sent to the Czech Republic were used to raise cattle that would graze a certain legume that contained high levels of nitrogen therefore causing a water contamination problem. The local cattle would not eat this legume which grew high in the mountains and Highland cattle were the solution.

In 2005, Marion Powling of Trossach Fold in Duncan, BC accepted the honour at the AGM held her hometown. Trossach Fold is one of the oldest folds in Canada stretching back 41 years and her breeding lines can be traced back to South Esk of Scotland. Marion served as a Director for 14 years and was President of the Society on three different occasions. Her helpful assistance to new breeders in British Columbia is well known and she has actively participated in showing Highland cattle for more than 20 years. At the presentation of the cup, Marion also received a bottle of whisky from the previous recipient, and she promptly opened the bottle and filled the Quaich, passing it around in its traditional use as a friendship cup.

In 2006, Joan Wort of Kiejoasan Fold accepted the honour. Joan is very active in the Society, having been Executive Secretary from 1986-1988 and a director from 2000-2006. She and her late husband, Keith, were also active in the Ontario Highland Cattle Association, showing cattle at the Royal Winter Fair in the ‘90’s alongside Gordon Kohl. Joan attends as many Highland functions as possible feeling it is important to get to know the breed and everything you can about them as well as being personally involved with the Society. Joan and Keith have also sponsored many of the banners and trophies used at the RAWF, including The Keith F. Wort Memorial Trophy, which is presented to the Supreme Champion of the show.

In 2007, Reg & Chris Woodworth of Clachan Glas Farm in Lynden, ON were nominated and received the award. Reg & Chris have been active in the Society since 1991. Reg has been a Director and Chairman of the Pedigree Committee and has shown cattle at the RAWF. Reg had been fortunate to have had many long conversations with Crop during several AGM’s which they had both attended and was honored to join the elite group of members who received the award in his name.

This past year (2008) at the AGM in St-Georges de Beauce, QC, Margaret Badger received the award. Many of you will have heard of and talked to Margaret over the years as she was the Secretary-manager of the Society from 1988-2003. She filled this position with grace and an un-wavering dedication, finally retiring from the position when her own farming duties became too much. Her nomination stated “This gracious, humble, soft-spoken woman is also – a Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Teacher, Lady Rancher, Mentor to CHCS members, Highland Breeders and Members of various Associations and Societies around the world.” Margaret still lives up to those words; since I started with the Society at the beginning of the year, she has answered many, many questions for me.

In 2009,  Steve Douglas received the award.

In 2010, Ghislain Falardeau was the recipient.