2009 Hall Of Fame Dave McCallum

2009 GPC induction of Dave McCallum into the

HALL OF FAME

Dave was first challenged into growing Giant Pumpkins when Port Elgin Pumpkinfest was offering a New Pickup truck as an official prize. Having spent most of his earlier life involved with growing things and farm life, Dave took up the challenge in 1992.

His first plant, using of the self Dill seed, produced a 225lb. whopper and when he took it to the Port Elgin weigh-off he realized he had a lot of work to do. That was the year Norn Craven weighed in his 832lb. WPC record and took home a pickup truck.

The next year he moved his planting to a different spot in the back yard. He started early and even had a bonfire going to prevent frost damage in September. This plant grew a 588lb pumpkin and Dave started a fund raiser for the local hospital to guess the number of seeds inside. This was the same year John and Chris Lyons grew their 900.8lb squash. Dave called in his friends to do the official seed count. This involved several bottles of wine and after many recounts they found 758 seeds in all. There was always fun and laughter involved.

The year following was the year that a $25,000. Prize was offered by the Port Elgin Pumpkinfest people for a new World’s Record. It was Dave and a number of his friends at the Port Elgin Growers Seminar decided that they had better grow more than one plant if they were to be successful.  After all if you lose that one plant you have 100% crop failure. It was time for Dave to move out of the back yard and find a place where he could start 16 plants. Many of those plants were offspring of the Lyons 900.8 whose mixed previous breeding came out in the new offspring as colours ranged from pale green to dark green to bright orange.

Dave was invited to join the executive of the Port Elgin Pumpkinfest as a grower’s director along with Doug Court. He was always involved in organizing grower’s seminars and working on proposed prize lists.

At that time there were three major weigh-off sites in the province of Ontario….Port Elgin Pumpkinfest, the Byward Market Weigh-off in Ottawa and the Sarnia Sunshine Weigh-off. Dave attended the GPC Growers seminar in Ottawa and got to meet many growers from the US.

Several meetings of the Ontario weigh-off sites were held and it was decided to hold a Provincial Growers Seminar. Gus Saunders encouraged the Port Elgin group to organize a central Growers seminar.

Dave suggested the University of Guelph which is recognized World Wide for its agricultural research. It is also fitting that the building chosen was the McLaughlin building, named after one of Dave’s ancestors. This venue proved to be an excellent location with its staggered seating arrangement and many growers were introduced as speakers by Dave who was quite comfortable behind the mike.

It was at this time that Port Elgin Pumpkinfest was having issues with the WPC and on Dave’s motion they joined the Giant Pumpkin Commonwealth.

It was also decided to honour an overall champion grower who grew the largest pumpkin by presenting that grower with the Orange Cup and the Orange Crested Blazer. This tradition has now moved from a local Provincial award to become an International award.

With the eventual evolution and the folding of the other two provincial weigh-off sites, it became the full responsibility of the Port Elgin Pumpinfest group to hold the annual seminar. The seminar was renamed the International Giant Pumpkin Growers Seminar.

It became evident that many of our American friends were coming to Canada a day or two early and attending the Niagara Casino. It was then that the Port Elgin committee checked out a Niagara Venue. Two years we used the Canadiana Hotel and then moved the seminar to the Sheridan Fallsview.

The GPC was experiencing some growing pains and with the retirement of Al Eaton as director, Dave was invited to be his replacement as the Canadian Representative. The procedure in those days was having directors meetings by telephone conference calls. The cost of those conference calls meant that meetings were cut short and the minutes were often conveyed to Al to consent on different matters.

This practice ended with Dave encouraging the members of the executive to use the internet to communicate and that was the beginning of MSN meetings were all could put input into discussions. It also added to the comradely of the group with different sarcasms under the scrutiny of the chairman.

It was a time of argumentative confusion with colouring issues of fruit as legal pumpkins or not and sites competing for membership. The GPC moved into a new era with the retirement of Hugh Wiberg and Tim Parks. Their replacements Dick Wallace and Dave Stelts brought new life to the organization.   

Two things had to be done. A constitution had to be drafted and new firm rules had to be established to end the colour issues once and for all. Dave was secretary at the time and had a great deal of input into those two documents on which our organization is based today.

In those days, the secretary was responsible for soliciting the membership renewal of each weigh-off site as well as signing up new sites. The job became very demanding and it was time to delegate some of the responsibilities to the directors and to add new directors.

Five new directors were added. ….Stephen Jepsen, Andy Wolfe, Russ Landry, Eddy Zachowsky, and Joe Scherber.

Dave now became vice-president and was responsible for some of the off shore sites.

Dave realized that many of the other weigh-off sites had Growers Clubs which supported their weigh-offs. He was instrumental in gathering together a group of Ontario growers to form the Giant Vegetable Growers of Ontario in 2005.

Inducted by Russ Landry 2009