One of the Comox Valley’s most well-known farmers passed away last week.
John (known as Jack) Farquharson, who grew and sold produce at previously named Farquharson Farms — now Comox Bay Farm — for many years, passed away peacefully Aug. 29 at 90.
Farquharson had a large stroke on Aug. 26 and was surrounded by family when he died days later at St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox.
“He had a very happy life, and a very long life, and he just simply, ran out of life,” said ex-wife Jean Farquharson, whom Jack was married to for 45 years. The two divorced about 15 years ago but reunited for some years before his death.
Jack and Jean came to Canada from Scotland and bought the first of the three parcels making up Farquharson Farms in 1953, according to their daughter Diane Kasdorf. As surrounding land became available, they purchased two more lots on either side of the original farm, giving them a total of 192 acres of farm land in the middle of Courtenay.
According to his family, Jack was known by many as a man who was “outstanding in in his field,” and the play on words brought a smile to his face.
Whether it was a field or simply a small garden, Kasdorf noted Jack would be standing in it.
In fact, Jack would come out to Kasdorf’s home in Vernon each year to put her garden in, and she said he was “amazingly healthy, and was working in the yard right up until the day he died.”
Jean agreed Jack enjoyed growing things and she noted he was very happy when he was out tending Farquharson Farms.
“Jack loved the farm, he just loved the farm,” said Jean. “He loved the outdoors and he loved doing things with vegetables and plants and all that sort of thing.”
Kasdorf added Jack was very proud of his Scottish heritage and would often wear a kilt, but more commonly, he would wear his Farquharson tartan tie. In fact, she noted that when paramedics came to pick up Jack after his stroke, they asked Jean why he was wearing a tie.
“Mom said, ‘Well he always weeded the yard with his tie on,’ ” Kasdorf said with a grin, adding he didn’t wear his tie while working on the farm, but really did wear it to do his yard work in his later years.
The Farquharsons had brief stints with dairy cows and sheep on the farm before focusing solely on fruits and vegetables. At first, Jack sold produce out of the trunk of his car on the side of the road, but the couple built a small store, which many Comox Valley residents would remember shopping at years ago.
The produce store was expanded into a garden centre after the Farquharsons’ business grew over the years, and many Comox Valley youth picked produce, like strawberries, as summer jobs at the farm.
Jack sold the land to Ducks Unlimited Canada and partners of the Pacific Estuary Conservation Program in 1998 when he decided to retire.
Jack was an active Rotarian and he had many Rotary exchange students stay in his home over the years, according to his family.
He also —fittingly — devoted time each year to planting Courtenay’s Mile of Flowers.
Longtime Comox Valley resident Ann Scott remembers Jack from when she was a little girl, as her parents were good friends of the Farquharsons and the two families had all their holiday dinners together.
“He was a lovely man. He was always friendly, happy. He was a great tease — I can remember that about him — he was teasing me,” recalled Scott. “I really liked him.”
At his request, the family will not hold a funeral.