Thomas Hunter

Tom Hunter - Photo.jpg

Thomas Leslie Hunter

At the Hamilton General Hospital on Wednesday, November 27, 2019 at the age of 73 years.  Beloved husband of Joyce (Hanna) Hunter, and the late Janice (Cherry) Hunter.  Loving father of Brian (Jodi), Neil (Melanie), and Mark.  Loving grandfather of Chelsea and Nicholas.  Son of the late Edgar & Florence Hunter.  Brother of David and Clayton (Brigitte).  Also survived by many nieces, nephews, and cousins.  The family will honour his life with visitation at the Hyde & Mott Chapel of R.H.B. Anderson Funeral Homes Ltd., 60 Main St. S., Hagersville on Saturday 7-9 pm. and Sunday 2-4 and 7-9 pm.  Funeral Service will be held in the chapel on Monday, December 2, 2019 at 11am.  Interment Gore Cemetery, Clanbrassil.  As an expression of sympathy donations may be made to Oneida United Church or Gore Cemetery.

Tradition/ Community / Family

Thomas Leslie Hunter, born into simpler times June 18, 1946, the youngest son of Edgar and Florence Hunter.  Along with his two brothers David and Clayton Hunter, Edgar and Florence taught them to love the farming way of life; working hard to give the best care possible for the dairy cows, field crops and chickens.   The early years were lean to say the least, setting the table for many lessons on how to make due with what you had, whether they were patching tire tubes and clothes which had been patched before or stealing parts off old machinery to make it work until the job was done.   It took the efforts of all family members to keep the farm going in those times.   Living only 3 farms over from the  original farm which the Hunter family immigrated to in 1839, they were surrounded by eager, ambitious families by the names of Hunter, Reid, Smith, Stark, Kett, etc.  These families stamped out a tradition of friendship, sharing, caring, lending a helping hand where they could.   There is something to be said for the comfort level that comes with knowing that if you are in need, at least one of the talented members of the community will be there to help you as you will for them.   My dad knew this more than anyone and carried on that tradition (sometimes to the detriment of the details on his own farm) in order to aid community members in need.   

As a young man, dad “walked uphill both ways” to the 1 room schoolhouse in Clanbrassil (leaving out that it was only 3 farms away).   While school was not his first love, he went through the grades taking maticulas notes with particular care to the quality of his handwriting.   I was quit surprised flipping through some of the notebooks he saved from school seeing how neat and tidy they were.   I can only imagine that the patience and care it would have taken as mimicked by his grandchildren as I watch them do the same thing daily.   

For those sitting here thinking that my dad was a perfect child, model student and very straight laced, let me put your mind at ease.   It would not have been out of the ordinary for him to be part of kids who  did not follow the teachers directions specifically and end up at the pond across the road from the schoolhouse as directed to skate at recess, but rather to be found with much dissatisfaction, up the road 2 farms where the pond was 3 times as large, playing tag, hockey or other “Tom Foolery” was much more exciting.   I remember another favourite story of his, where he found himself in charge of rounding up the cows from one of the back pastures.  This being a medial task, yielding little excitement, would be much better served if he were to complete it using his brother David’s car.  Off he  went and collected them up “literally driving them back from the pasture”.  This plan seemed to be working out quite well until the moment where he found himself with the car firmly on top of the discs.  I can only imagine those fateful steps to find his dad and the story he was going to tell as to how this travesty had occurred.  I also suspect it was received with a response equating in decibels to many my brothers and I were met with under similar situations.   The solution was ultimately found after much contemplation by making a tripod of posts over the car, attaching a pulley to the top and lifting the car up off the discs far enough to remove them.  Apparently, David was none the wiser as he did not recall this epic story when I asked him about it in a recent visit to his home.

Dad received many lessons growing up on the farm, working shoulder to shoulder with his brothers, father, Uncle John and his cousins.  Not the least of which was not to be afraid to start something.  He carried this lesson throughout his life as he certainly was not afraid as a mechanic to rip anything apart, figure out how it worked and fix the broken pieces.  He came by this honestly, as his father and Uncle John were equally fearless.   After making the decision that a chicken barn was going to be the requirement for long-term success on their 2nd line farm, Uncle John and my Grandfather set out to start building the foundation with nothing more than a “string line” and a 2 foot level.   Can you imagine the difficulty of building a 200ft barn level with only these simple tools?  It amazes me whenever I see that structure, to know the enginuity, hard work by all of the brothers, cousins etc who helped build every block of it.   It certainly helps give us a sense of the tradition of fearlessness our family must have had in order to immigrate to Canada from Scotland, build a life for there family and the generations to come from scratch.   No wonder my dad took such an interest in the family tree and traveling to Scotland with Joyce to search out the conditions and stories around the reason to take on this monumental task.  I am happy to report that the 2ft level still exists and is in the hands of Uncle John’s grandson, Bruce Hunter’s son “Johnny” for future use in the families most outrageous building projects.

The chicken barn was not the only tremendous feat undertaken by this the duo of Edgar and John Alec and family.   When Stelco was being built along the lake in Hamilton, the homes which were located there had to be removed or taken down.  Edgar purchased one of these homes for a nominal fee, hired a   transport company, took the roof off the home, and brought it up the steep escarpment and placed it on the basement on the recently severed lot from the 2nd line farm.   This house made way for the next generation to move into the farm house eventually and provide a retirement residence for my grandparents Edgar and Florence.   This house is still owned by the family and is occupied by my brothers Brian and Mark.

The strong family traditions related to self improvement and competition were evident as all three brothers David, Clayton and Tom all participated in plowing competitions locally as part of the school teams, county teams and then as individuals at the highest level during the yearly International Plowing  Match.   Their attention to detail, ability to plow an even, straight furrow won them many silver platters, several 8 place silverware settings and travel opportunities.   These competitions were offered tremendous bonding opportunities within the boys and their father, confidence building and lifelong friendships within the local community and province of Ontario.   In particular, dad was most proud of his brother Clayton for winning the Esso award and a trip to the Canadian Championship.   For dad, his most proud moment came with International Plowing Match win earning him a trip to the world’s fair EXPO ‘67 which was in Montreal that year.   He certainly spoke with pride about it as he shared pictures and slides of a hovercraft river excursion and touring each countries grand displays culminating with the great sphere built specifically to recognize the importance of the event.  

The path to farming by himself was a bit longer for Tom, as the youngest brother.   It started on one eventful day when he became so frustrated in his grade 10 highschool auto class that he never returned due to the fact that the teacher would not let them touch anything and he didn’t feel he could learn anything that way.   Upon announcing his decision at home, he was told that the farm could not provide for them all and that he had better go out and get a job.  The next day he started to pump gas on the corner of the 4th line and Hwy 6th and doing some oil changes between customers.   This soon changed to an apprentiship and trade school to achieve his auto mechanics license while working at Craddocks in Jarvis.   The next move was to a 20 year career at Dennis Searles Chev Olds in Caledonia.   This pay raise helped solidify the mortgage payments on the 100 acre farm where he raised his family and lived his farming tradition out on.  The 3rd line farm was purchased with a down payment loan from his parents and the remainder of mortgage held by the previous owner Mary Smith.

On May 16, 1970 Tom married the first love of his life Janice Mae Cherry, the daughter of Gordon and Vera Mae Cherry.  They were a fun-loving family operating a successful dairy farm in Garnet.  Janice had seen Tom first playing baseball as a teenager while cheering on her brothers at the diamonds in the Gore, Hagersville and Oneida.   Together, they enjoyed music, dancing and  their joint passion for animals as they both worked off the farm full-time; dad as a mechanic and mother as an x-ray technician.   Their love resulted in 3 wonderful boys (if I do say so myself!) who were raised in a house respecting the traditions handed down from previous generations, understanding the amazing benefits and support found in such a close-knit community and the fun there is to experience as we increase the amount of time spent with our extended family.  Lord knows that us children have laughed a lot and looked forward to filling one another’s houses at Christmas with what seemed be 18hr eating, game playing and laughing events which will stick with all of us cousins forever.

Family was so important to my dad that in 1984, we loaded up as a family in our Chev van with a mattress in the back and set out in a convoy with my grandparents Edgar and Florence Hunter and Uncle Lionel / Aunt Marie to attend the 100th Anniversary of the Hunter family settlement in Brandon Manitoba.   While this was the only major trip of our childhood, it was clearly very important to my dad to connect with family he had never met, find out more about the ones who came before us and help define the identity which made him who he was.  This passion has never faded and became a lifelong quest.

Childhood for my brothers and I never seemed to lack for anything even though many of our favourite toys, bikes etc weren’t new.  I am sure our upbringing was much like a recent FB post I shared.   It was a picture of a young boy walking with his mom and dad wearing 2 different shoes.   After closer examination you realize that each shoe matched the single shoe each parent was wearing, with both parents having the other foot bare.   For me it was a powerful symbol that loving parents give what they have to support their children and make sure they have what they need.   Our house, and the houses of many generations before us, were true examples of this.

Tom’s brother Clayton shared a childhood memory with me in the past few days which I will share now.    He described being in the back field of the 2nd line farm with the horses, hay loader and wagon stacking a full load to bring up to the barn.   The three boys thought it would be fun to ride the top of the load all the way to the barn.   How could that go wrong eh?   As they closed in on the barn, they crossed a ditch and the wagon reach broke upsetting the load of hay.  Clayton and Tom were thrown clear while the oldest David ended up underneath.  They all worked frantically digging David out fearing for the worst.  Their efforts were successful and freed him in time.  The take away- Family work together to support family.

Big hay loads were a tradition apparently as I have seen a picture from my dad’s 3rd line farm of 7 young men who had been helping us collect small square bales.   Those young men included Rod Poirier, Jerry Smith, my dad and other proud looking fellows who had a high testosterone, prove themselves to be men moment, where they piled 14 layers of hay on the 3 foot high wagon.  Now I don’t know your math abilities, but mine made that top layer to be about 28ft off the ground.   Forget their need to go to Good Life Fitness, these fellas had good reason for the big smiles and obvious community comrodery.

While dad spent his 20 years working as mechanic at Dennis Searles Chev Olds and the  next 20 years at Oneida Ford New Holland for Tom and Judy Snyder, he used much of his spare time supporting the community organizations which he thought aided his farm business, his community and the traditions which his family enjoyed since moving from Scotland in Oneida.   They included:

- being a Counciller for Oneida before Regional Government
- Oneida & Haldimand Plowing Associations
- Haldimand Federation of Agriculture
- Grand River Antique Society
- Haldimand Cattleman’s Associations
- Ontario Beef Producers for Change (Supply Management for beef)
- Gore Cemetery Board – Took over Sec position from his father 40 years ago
- Kohler Ag Hall Committee
- Provincial and Federal Liberal Riding Association
- IPM planning committees
- Dunnville Fair
- 4-H Plowing Club Leader

I got exhausted just making this list.  Having witnessed all of these activities, my dad seemed to get energy by being involved with all of these community groups continuing the traditions they represent for the purpose of agricultural education, training grounds for young people and improving the lives for the people which they involved.

In particular, he enjoyed talking and being involved with so many people in these organizations.  Enjoying conversing with anyone he met and generally making those around him feel comfortable; using his version of humor to lighten the mood when needed.   I have watched him stop to understand the different opinions within the room of more than one of the organizations he was working with, talk directly with those who were the most opposing to the greater good in his view, and often gain their support over time in his logical way.  While he may not have been a smooth enough speaker for politics, he certainly proved to be a valuable asset to any of the organizations he was involved in as a steady, active supporter who was respected by his peers for his opinion.  Obviously, it is in our DNA as Hunter's to have a strong opinion on ANY/ALL topics so this served him well in his community work.

After his first love, Janice, my mother, succommed to cancer, dad relied on his busy life and long-term commitment to community to busy himself until one day.   I remember walking into the 3rd line house, home from Napanee to check on him.   He was bent over the sink washing the dishes.  When he looked up, I got the shock of my life.  I had to hear him speak to recognize him almost; he had shaved his beard.  I had never in my life ever seen him without his beard.  It certainly made him look younger and more like his brothers than I ever thought he was.  It was clear to me that day, that something had changed.   I didn’t know what yet, but something had changed.  

In a short while, I realized what that was.  He had started seeing Joyce Branson, a tall white haired women that I knew through her long-time involvement with the Haldimand federation of Agriculture, at the yearly banquets etc.   I really didn’t know much about her other than she had struck me as a determined lady who was obviously very competent to hold a long-time roll with that organization.  

Until the last couple of days, I had always thought that dad shaved his beard because Joyce preferred that.  Instead, Joyce shared the first time he came to pick her up.   When she came to the door, the first thing he asked was, “Well, do you like it?”, Like what? She replyed.  She hadn’t noticed as she was staring into his eyes.  Clearly, dad had prepared himself both physically and mentally for this life changing date.

And a change for both of them it was.   Neither had traveled much, had much time to enjoy life outside of farming.  The huge smiles in their wedding picture, which you would have seen coming in today, tells the whole story.   That smile has been on both of their faces everyday since as they have experienced the world together traveling twice to Scotland to see the Hunter homestead and find out about the challenges the Clan endured / impetus to move to Canada;  traveling to Ireland to visit the Hannah family homestead to learn that they had been run out of Scotland and eventually landing in Bing Township in Canada.   

Joyce and dad have enjoyed much shorter trips as well including their weekly stops for breakfast and the live music they both love at Shelleys and the Indian Reservation.   Trips to Napanee and Mallorytown to see their grandchildren were also highlights as they have watched them grow and continue to develop into to adventurous, talented, young people who continued to have bigger and bigger hugs for them.

In the most recent years of retirement, you would have found my dad continuing all of the involvement with community organizations but with a few life changes.   He decided to give up his ownership of the farm he started his independent farming dream on and sell it to John Douglas Laidlaw;   the grandson of his long-time friend, cousin, and plowing competitor, John Reid.   It seemed fitting to complete the circle to sell the farm to the young man he admired for his work ethic, innovativeness and dedication to the same community traditions he had enjoyed as an Oneida resident all of his life.   It seemed like the best way to complete the circle.

In recent years, John Douglas had become a very important part of the local trio including my dad and his long-time friend Webb Slack (recently deceased owner of the Hagersville Auction Centre and co-pilot on so many Beef Producer for Change meeting trips with Tom).  

Completing the circle seems to be a recent theme as my dad spent much of his past summer helping Webb’s daughters learn the ropes of fixing and maintaining the equipment so they could be the most successful going forward as they endeavor to carry on their parent’s Sale Barn and traditions in the local cattle business.

When dad wasn’t there, he was in Mallorytown spending a week at a time helping Melanie and I solidify our farm dreams aiding both in the field and fixing what we had broken.  After his workday he would eat supper with his Grand-kids while Melanie and I went to the barn to milk cows.  The grandchildren would have his complete attention for the next couple hours while they drained his remaining energy for the day playing checkers, board games, etc.  Enjoying those grandchildren was completing the circle for him.

Thomas Leslie Hunter, friend, cousin, uncle, grandpa, dad, husband; as he may be known to you, understood just like the motors he worked on all his life, families and your community require proper maintenance.  It is much easier to add regular grease and oil to keep them running than it is have to overhaul the motor.   It is also just as important to make things run well that there has to be spark (or passion for what you like to do), fuel (be given or seek out the opportunity to do it) and the correct timing for the motor pistons (or applying the maximum amount of effort as well as relaxation at the proper times in our lives).

Dad, your immediate and extended family love you.  We have learned so much from your example and have fond memories of our experiences spent with you.   Your circle is complete now and your love is felt by all of us with the many hugs we have received from the people you touched in your life who thought enough to come to share today with us.  

A heartfelt Thank-you from our family to everyone for  coming and sharing your memories, thoughts, prayers and laughter with us.


Posted by don kett on
my deepest sympathy joyce an to the boys......tommy will be missed in our community....a great buddy ...known him all my life....neighbor don kett
Posted by W.R.Burger on
We were saddened to learn of Tom’s passing & offer our deepest sympathy to Joyce, Brian, Neil, Mark & Families. Tom enjoyed farming, interested in many things about life in general, passionate about his politics & caring about his friends, his associates & community. He was proud of his heritage, cherished his children & had an infectious laugh & wonderful sense of humour. May God grant you His Grace & Peace as you mourn the deep personal loss of a loving husband, cherished father, proud grandfather, beloved brother, uncle & dear friend.
Posted by Adriaan and lois sloot on
Sorry to hear about your loss. Thinking of you and your family at this sad time.
Posted by Ross Turner on
It is with great sadness we learned of Tom’s passing this evening. I so enjoyed meeting and working with Tom on the farm projects we participated in together.
We are thinking of you, Neil, Melanie, Chelsea and Nicholas at this very sad time in your lives. He will be greatly missed and you’ll be lost without his help. We pray God will give you peace and strength to go forward. If there’s anything we can do, please ask. We send our love to you all.
Posted by James and Janet woolley on
Dear Joyce and family

This is heartbreaking to hear of toms passing..Have had the upmost of honour to have called Tom a great friend for more than thirty years ,being involved
In many facets including,the international plowing match voting meetings,playing for venues for the plowing match dances for associations with the Hamilton wentworth olde tyme fiddlers association . Tom was a proud farmer,mechanic family man and was there to answer the call. He was a great friend to my late parents,visiting at their cottage or having a good laugh listening to a joke or just talking about anything at all...always a pleasure just to be in the company of Tom...
Joyce and family may your memories be held near and cherished eternal,we send our deepest of condolences and tears as we remember ...
May the lord hold you near and dear with strength and peace ...
Posted by brian doyle on
I was shocked to hear the news of Tom`s passing. A great friend, a wonderful Oneida neighbour and a man that always put others ahead of himself. I had the pleasure of meeting Tom when I was just a young boy on the farm and Tom was a very good friend of my father Vince. He was a master mechanic and could always get you fixed up and back in the field to get your crop harvested.
To Joyce and the boys, my heartfelt condolences and just know that Tom Hunter was a great, great man.

Brian Doyle
Posted by Jennifer & Jeff Waldroff on
Neil, Melanie & family;

We are very sorry to hear of your loss. Our deepest sympathies.

Jennifer & Jeff Waldroff
Posted by Nancy Ireland on

Bob and I are so very sorry to hear of Tom's passing. Thinking of you and your family with our deepest sympathies.

Nancy Ireland
Bob Allan
Posted by Steve Gandour on
I am deeply saddened to hear of Tom's passing. I did not have the pleasure of knowing him until 5 years ago when upon joining the Dunnville Agricultural Society board I had the distinct pleasure of both working with and getting to know him. He was one of the hardest working men I ever knew.

He was DEEPLY dedicated to this community, his family and agriculture in general. I learned more from him then I can ever recount, but I am very greatful to have known him.

To Joyce and the entire family - I can not imagine the impact of this loss. I can only say I will pray for you and trust that the memories of Tom will bring you joy whenever you think on him.
Posted by Don & Isabel Kinnear on
Neil, Melanie & family,
Our thoughts and prayers are with you all at this sad time.
Don & Isabel Kinnear
Posted by James Roberts on
We extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to the entire Hunter family during your period of loss.

Jim & Lois Roberts
Posted by Joe and Rosalie Gallina on
to Joyce and the Hunter family. So sorry to hear of Tom's passing. We always enjoyed talking to him.he was so involved in the community he was a good neighbor
Posted by Joe and Rosalie Gallina on
to Joyce and the Hunter family. So sorry to hear of Tom's passing. We always enjoyed talking to him.he was so involved in the community he was a good neighbor
Posted by Jim Smelser on
sorry to hear about tom. I enjoyed working with him at Oneida equipment, he was a great friend
Posted by Jim Smelser on
sorry to hear about tom. I enjoyed working with him at Oneida equipment, he was a great friend
Posted by Cliff MacLean on
My deepest condolences to the Hunter family on hearing the sad news of Toms Passing. He was a very kind man and was always willing to help in any way. This world is at a loss after his passing. RIP Tom.
Posted by Doug and Shirley Thompson on
We were shocked to learn of Tom's passing. Joyce, we are thinking of you and the family at this difficult time. Doug had planned to come to the visitation today, but the roads were not good. Doug always enjoyed working with Tom and having a good visit with him. He will be missed.
Posted by Dorothy van Osch on
John Ronchi and I extended our deepest sympathies to Joyce, Neil, Brian, Mark and families. John so enjoyed talking with Tom at many farm related activities especially at the Hagersville sale barn.
Posted by Reta r Brantley on
So sorry for your loss. I will forever remember when Tommy shared with me the family tree that Aunt Emma had wrote down for him. ( I am the daughter of Clifford Pond, Granddaughter of James Bryon Pond)
Posted by Randy Doyle on
We are very saddened to find out about the passing of our friend and neighbour. Fondly remembering many a chat by the fence line. Our sympathies to Joyce, the boys and families.
Posted by Christopher J Hoover on
My deepest sympathy to Joyce and the family. It was always a pleasure knowing Tom from my first days at Oneida United. He was always positive and loved to chat. Now, he is in God's care and we will surely miss him. But we also know he is "just around the corner" watching and waiting for us to join him someday.
Posted by Gary Elderman on
Tom was my neighbor as well. Always had a friendly wave and at least a "minute" to talk when he wasn't on the tractor. My condolences to Joyce and the family.
Posted by Marla and Tanya on
Fondly remembering Uncle Tom and sending our love and condolences to Joyce and the rest of the family during this very sad time. Tanya, Marla, Tony & Aisha
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