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Retired farmer Joe van Oirschot and wife Ann media sensation at Pier 21

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

Attending the Dutch Immigration Commemorative event was both work and pleasure for retired dairy farmer Joe van Oirschot of the Antigonish area, Nova Scotia, and his wife Ann. Dressed in Dutch costumes upon request, they were thrust onto the pages of daily newspapers and television news across the Atlantic region and Canada.

The media-savvy couple with their costumes attracted photographers and camera crews for shots and news clips. The Van Oirschots were still acting as de facto event spokesmen long after the official party with dignitaries had retired to the nearby s.s. Rotterdam for lunch.

Canada gave the Brabant-couple everything they wished for when they left their home turf and family for a uncertain future in a strange country with a language they hardly mastered. After working at various area farms, the Van Oirschots struck out on their own and eventually acquired surrounding farms, now owned by their son Joey and his wife.

As part of the farm fare, Van Oirschot involved himself in agricultural organizations which he served in various capacities. Similarly, other Dutch immigrant farmers soon took a lead in the farming organizations of their chosen province where the government particularly had banked on Dutch newcomers to turn around its sadly lagging agriculture.

Nova Scotia’s agricultural policies paid rich dividends as the newcomers loved the opportunities at hand. Sometimes, to the dismay of the old guard, they succeeded in reviving the struggling sector and early on filled leadership roles which elsewhere much later fell to their Dutch Canadian contemporaries. Various farmer entrepreneurs in the province are processing their own yields.