Nelson Farm History

(See the Gallery for photos that accompanied the presentation.)
In the early 1890's, Henrik Edvard (Heikki) Pynttari came from Alavus, Finland to the Iron Range district of Minnesota, USA to work at the iron mine in Biwabik. When the mine closed, he moved to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan to work on the locks. From there, he and other Finnish workers walked along the railroad tracks to Copper Cliff in 1895 and secured work at the Canadian Copper Company in the Evans Mine. That was where a company foreman, having difficulty with the Finnish names, changed Henrik's name to Henry Nelson along with others whose names were anglicized such as Wilson and Hill so that they might receive their pay cheques.
In 1897, Henry married Amalia Skold in Copper Cliff. She had also immigrated a few years earlier from Kauhava, Finland. They had three children, lohn Edward, born in 1903, Martha in 1908 and Irene in 1920. Amalia operated a boarding house at 63 Balsam Street in Copper Cliff while Henry worked in the mine.
In 1908, the Nelsons purchased the East half of Lot 2, Concession 5 in Waters Township from a Mr. John Clary for $500.00. This land was first deeded from the Crown in 1897. It is believed that a Gordon Lumber Company operated on this property initially. It consisted of 142 acres divided by Kelly Lake and had a log building on the north side. This was used to house and feed men hired to clear the land. All the timber had been cut, leaving stumps to be cleared, some of which were three feet in diameter. This was done between 1908 and 1914.
In 1915, the house and barn were built. The two-storey home was 24X40 feet long with a concrete basement. The main floor contained the kitchen, parlour, living and dining rooms with a 40 foot glassed-in veranda. The upper floor had four bedrooms and a walk-in closet at the end of the hall. The interior was finished with oak hardwood floors and Georgia pine on all the walls and ceilings. The exterior was grey stucco with dark green trim.
The barn was of frame construction, with dimensions of 40 feet X 107 feet. It could house 40 cattle and 6 horses. A windmill supplied water to two 900 gallon tanks in the barn which also serviced the house. Water for the cattle was supplied for automatic water bowls activated by the pressure of the cattle's mouths.
A small wooden bridge was built across Junction Creek at the west end of Kelly Lake to access the south part of the farm. This property contained 40 acres of mostly cleared land ready for cultivation. There was a log and a frame hay barn there with an area for hay stacks. During the winter season, the hay was brought over the ice to the barn loft and manure was brought for the fields on the return trips. Ice from the lake was cut into manageable pieces and stored in a shed full of sawdust for cooling milk and food in the summer.
The family moved to the farm in 1916 to begin a dairy business. They sold milk directly from the farm to customers in Copper Cliff which was four miles away. The milk was sold in the farm's own bottles, stamped with "H. Nelson Copper Cliff Ont." Their son, John, aged thirteen, was taken out of school to deliver the milk because he could speak English. A horse-drawn wagon was used in the summer and a sleigh in the winter. Work on the farm was done by Henry and Amalia along with two hired men and a maid, plus two extra men during hay season. The present Nickel Refinery property was rented for pasture for $6.00 per year from 1916 to 1960. In 1927 the government mandated that all milk had to be pasteurized. Henry Nelson along with Elias Kallio, John Harju and John Salo decided to build a dairy to be called "Copper Cliff Dairy". It was built on Temperance Street with John Nelson as manager from 1928 until 1939 when Ernest Kallio purchased it. A new dairy was later built on Balsam Street.
In 1930, Henry's son John, married Impi Niemi also from Waters Township. They had three sons, Henry, John and Edward. In 1936 they moved to Copper Cliff as John would be closer to his job as the dairy manager. In 1939, when the dairy was sold, Henry and Amalia moved to a home in Sudbury and lohn and Impi took over the farm and continued selling their milk.
They modernized the operation with the purchase of a 1939 Ford Ferguson tractor with hydraulics and attached implements such as plow and mower. A milking machine operated by a diesel generator was also purchased. Rural hydro lines did not arrive until 1948. John purchased nine Holstein cows from the Ottawa Valley to improve the quality of the herd. The herd consisted of forty cattle with twenty-eight producing milk. They shipped six 32-quart milk cans daily to Copper Cliff, Standard and City dairies in Sudbury. The dairy operation continued until 1942, when a shortage of hired help during the war, forced a reduction in the herd. The best milking cows were sold to Edward Salo. The farm was changed to a herd of fifteen cows for creamery and for self sustenance. Gradually the herd was changed to Hereford beef cattle. After 1948 the cattle were gradually reduced and the last cow sold in 1969.
After John passed away in 1973, Impi moved to a new home on the south side of the property, next to her son Henry on Moxam Landing Road. The farm was rented off and on until 1988 when it was sold to Cal Graphite as an industrial property. However, the company owner, Ed Blanchard, had the farmhouse demolished and replaced with a single-storey stone house on the same site. The Department of Highways expropriated twelve acres on the south side of Kelly Lake for the South-West bypass. The property between the highway and the lake was sold to the Town of Walden to expand Fielding Park. The Trans Canada Trail passes through it today.
The farm has been purchased by Fuller Industrial, whose office sits on the very site of the original farm house. The office is the former Blanchard home.

There are no longer any remaining dairy farms in Waters Township or in fact all of Walden.

Henry Nelson
John Nelson
Edward Nelson (deceased - provided family research) March 2012