A Story of Canadians Helping CanadiansBook - 2004
Hay West is a heart-warming story about a relief effort that responded to the worst drought in Western Canada in 133 years. It is about farmer helping farmer, neighbour helping neighbour and the East caring for the West. It is also about two modest farmers from Navan, Ontario, who made a difference in ways that could not possibly have been imagined.
The Hay West story begins one July morning in 2002 at the farmhouse of Willard McWilliams when news reports were aired on the plight of western farmers. There was no feed, and many farmers were being forced to sell their cattle. Some were at risk of losing their farms. At the same time, farmers in the East were enjoying an abundant harvest of hay. Within four months of watching that newscast, the McWilliams, father and son, had spearheaded an effort that encompassed over 1,100 volunteers and hundreds of private and corporate benefactors, that delivered over 60,000 large bales of donated hay to 1,000 farm families in Saskatchewan and Alberta.
The story of the Hay West Initiative also provides a study in how to respond to a disaster. Readers will learn about what went right and what went wrong; how farmers across the country were mobilized; how Hay West worked and now is an ongoing part of the Canadian scene. But the most compelling part of the Hay West story is how a few smallscale farmers with big hearts and big dreams captured the attention of a nation and gave hope to those in despair.