The Egg House on the Hill — The Duncans


The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
02 Aug 1961, Wed  •  Page 25

 This week with the opening of a unique and almost completely automated poultry building and associated equipment. This new unit has been built op. the farm of egg producer Hugh Duncan, on the Clayton Road, about 3 miles west of Almonte, Ontario. The ultra new method of egg production is the first of its kind in Ontario and probably in Canada. It will be open-house at the Duncan farm on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 4 and 5.

A complete tour of the facilities and demonstrations of the new equipment will show visitors the innovations in farming offered by automatic equipment. Controls and motors keep this large operation functioning 24 hours each day. Behind this automation is the dependable hired hand electricity. Electric motors shuttle the new – style feeding troughs, drive auger feeding systems, pump a constant supply of fresh water, operate pit cleaners, provide ventilation and operate the packaging machines.

The heart of the system is the 200 ampere electrical service and through it comes the energy for refrigeration, water heating, to heat work rooms, wash, grade, and candle eggs, provide lighting and operate the myriad of time clock controls. Gone are the days when the hens were left to find nests and roosts, and the farmer scatter ed feed several times a day. Now 9,500 hens will perch on a multiple-roost system with feed and water within easy reach. Close by, nests are designed so that the eggs roll gently away to a rack for easy gathering.

Automatic pit cleaners keep the building and roosts clean. Preparing eggs for marketing involves a number of necessary steps between the farm and the neighbourhood store. Gathered from the nests they are placed in brightly-coloured trays ready for the electric washing machine which handles up to 30,000 eggs each day. To preserve freshness, they are transferred to a refrigerated storage vault where electric controls keep a constant temperature of 50 degrees. Ready for packing, an electric vacuum egg lifter resembling a giant flat – iron lifts them to the candling and grading machine. Beneath the candling table four 1500 watt mercury vapour lamps provide strong direct light essential to grading. Automatic controls sort each egg to the proper weight, and counters total the number of each dozen in each grade. Nimble human hands carefully fill the cartons, and again automation takes over as the cartons are conveyed to a closing unit and placed in large packing cases for shipment. Electricity with its multitude of applications has become the full-time hired hand on the farm.

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
02 Aug 1961, Wed  •  Page 25

Resident of the Month: Margaret Duncan 

Margaret’s history as a community leader and elected official is well known both in Mississippi Mills and surrounding area—from High School teacher in Carleton Place, to a successful farm business partnership, to Councilor in Ramsay Township, (first woman), to Reeve of Ramsay Township, to Warden of Lanark County. Her many policies and political accomplishments continue to impact Mississippi Mills and she continues to be involved in community groups, including fundraising for the Almonte General Hospital/ Fairview Manor. While on council, she was responsible for securing significant funding for a variety of rural projects such as the Clayton Housing Project, Lyn Bower, and many new paved roads which encouraged tourism in the area. 

Margaret met her husband, Hugh Duncan, at Guelph university. Hugh returned to his home in Almonte and Margaret arrived as a new bride in 1951. They worked hard to create a successful farm and egg marketing business. They raised 5 children in their home on Clayton Road and employed many local residents over their 39 years of business. 

After the death of Hugh, Margaret met and married Stanley Brunton. After only a short 4 1/2 years, he passed. She was fortunate to have even more family that were a great part of her life. Few know of her roots—her early life in a small, rural farming community in Guelph Township, seven miles from Guelph. Margaret’s father was largely self-educated, given the demands of work on the family farm. The rich land, her father’s hard work and determination throughout his life, made him a successful dairy farmer and active community leader serving as Guelph Township Councilor and Reeve, and as the Clerk of his Township. 

Margaret has fond memories of her mother’s sweet temperament, love of flowers, soloist in the church choir and her stylish appearance. The sadness of her early death remains with her today.  Margaret’s character was shaped by her parents’ values, personal commitment to community, deep religious beliefs, determination and self-sufficiency. Margaret’s family forged deep values in this rural community of self-sufficient farmers and they managed well throughout the Depression years. As children, Margaret along with her brother and sister, participated in local debates, public speaking, social events, recitals and local dances. Margaret’s five children are all currently living in the Almonte and Ottawa area and she stays close with her in-laws, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Her large extended family and friends continue to love to visit her at her new, beautiful home at Orchard View by the Mississippi.

From the Orchard View newsletter 2018

Tireless volunteer and community builder Margaret Duncan, right, was presented with the 2020 Bert McIntyre Memorial Award for volunteerism Dec. 1. It was presented by Norma McIntyre, left, the wife of the late Bert McIntyre. The award was created in 2019 by the Almonte General Hospital/Fairview Manor Foundation. read here

Meet Margaret Duncan, Recipient of the Bert McIntyre Memorial Award for Volunteerism

Rose Mary Sarsfield

From “Whispers from the Past, History and Tales of Clayton” If you want to purchase a book please email me at or call me at 613-621-9300, or go to the Clayton Store, or Mill Street Books in Almonte.
From “Whispers from the Past, History and Tales of Clayton” If you want to purchase a book please email me at or call me at 613-621-9300, or go to the Clayton Store, or Mill Street Books in Almonte.

Related Reading:

Lanark Farm Life is Not so Bad- 1951

Once Upon a Time on the Farm

Farming Could be a Dangerous Business in Lanark County? Who Do You Know?

She Doesn’t Think My Tractor is Sexy–The Farmer’s Wife 1889

Eggs 10 Cents a dozen–Farmers Markets of Smiths Falls and Almonte 1880 and 1889

We Didn’t Throw the Eggs said Carleton Place!

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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