The Gleaner
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Brysonwood Farms celebrates milestone 200th anniversary

The year 2023 marks the 200th anniversary of Brysonwood Farms in Ormstown. The farm, which stretches along the Chateauguay River, has been in the family for two centuries – ever since the land was originally acquired by William Bryson on September 16, 1823.


William Bryson purchased the original plot of land on September 16 1823 for a half bushel of wheat PHOTO Courtesy of Douglas Bryson


“We are the only ones to ever farm the land,” says Douglas Bryson. “It was bought and cleared by five generations back of grandfathers,” he notes proudly. He and his wife, Stéphanie Bisaillon, are now the sixth generation on the land, which they share with their two-year-old son, Edward, who may one day inherit the family business.

Bryson says that according to family legend, the original deed still exists somewhere in the family’s historical records. William Bryson, who was born in Scotland in 1789, purchased the original plot of land for the hefty price of 30 pounds – or a half-bushel – of wheat. Family records don’t note the exact date William arrived in Canada or when the family first settled in Ormstown, but Bryson says photos suggest that before 1823, the first Brysons lived on the other side of the Chateauguay. “We jumped the river and decided we were staying,” he laughs.


Joseph John Bryson and his wife converted the farm to a dairy operation in the early 1930s and named the farm Brysonwood PHOTO Courtesy of Douglas Bryson


In the early days the farm produced wheat and potash. Bryson says the first mention of dairy production doesn’t appear in the family’s records until the early 1930s. This coincides with the naming of the farm by Bryson’s great grandfather, Joseph John Bryson, who christened the family’s property “Brysonwood.”

The farm remained focused on dairy production until 2007, when Bryson’s parents, Keith Bryson and Debbie Wright, decided to sell their quota and animals and converted to conventional cash cropping. Bryson returned from college in 2015 and purchased the farm from his parents. That same year, Bryson transitioned the farm to become a certified organic cash crop operation.


Farmers wait at the milk pickup at the Brysonville rail station including Joseph Bryson and his son John seated in the middle of the front row PHOTO Courtesy of Douglas Bryson


Then, in 2021, Bryson launched an entirely new venture as a chicken farmer with the Ferme Avicole Brybec. As for the future, he says too many generations have worked too hard to get the farm to where it is for them to let it go. “Hopefully we can keep things going so it is a viable business if and when he [Edward] is ready.”

A celebration

“We hummed and hawed about doing anything,” says Bryson of the 200th anniversary. “But then we found some old photos of the corn roasts my parents used to hold and we thought, a corn roast is a simple way to feed people,” he laughs.


Douglas Bryson with his wife Stéphanie Bisaillon and their son Edward is the sixth generation to farm at Brysonwood The family hosted a 200th anniversary gathering on August 26 to celebrate the milestone PHOTO Courtesy of Douglas Bryson


As the family gathered to mark the milestone on August 26 with family, friends, and neighbours, between 150 and 200 people stopped by throughout the day. Bryson’s grandmother, who will celebrate her 100th birthday in December, was also on site to celebrate. Visitors looked through old images and many helped to identify the people in the photos. “Connections were made,” says Bryson, who admits to having always had an interest in his family’s lengthy history.

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