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Herberts, Van Bussels To Middlesex HOF

Published: March 3, 2013 8:04 pm ET

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The Middlesex Agricultural Hall of Fame recently announced its 2013 inductees with harness racing families among the mix, including the Herberts and Van Bussels.

Founded in 2000, the Middlesex Agricultural Hall of Fame recognizes the history and tradition of agriculture in Middlesex County. The primary objective of the Agricultural Hall of Fame is to recognize those who have demonstrated unselfish achievements within the realm of agriculture and service to the rural community in Middlesex County and beyond.

Each year inductees are honoured at a Hall of Fame Luncheon during the Western Fair Farm Show and representatives are happy to announce this year’s honourees are the Herbert Family (Bill, Ruth & Jack), the Van Bussel Family (Seelster Farms) and Sir Adam Beck.

In the period between the 1930’s and the late ‘80’s the name Herbert, for many, was synonymous with success in standardbred breeding, training and racing industry across North America. From their Long Lane Farm, located just outside of Lambeth, Ontario, the Herbert’s (Bill, his wife Ruth, and son Jack) managed and operated a stable and breeding farm that at its height had over 100 horses.

In recognition of his significant contributions to the sport of harness racing Bill Herbert was elected into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in the "Builders" category in 1977. In addition, two of the horses the family bred, raised, trained and drove were also inducted into the Hall of Fame, Dominion Grattan in 1976 and Singing Herbert in 1983. Both Bill and Jack were also inducted into Western Fair Raceway’s Wall of Fame.

Through innovation and hard work Seelster Farms is today the country’s largest standardbred breeding operation. It all started with a small farm and one retired mare. That mare was bred and her offspring proved to be winners. Over time that hobby grew to a thriving and successful breeding business, which incorporated Chris and Cathy Van Bussel along with sister Tina (Van Bussel) and her husband Harry Boxmeer. This collaboration produced Seelster Farms as we know it today.

In recognition of his leadership and dedication to the horse racing and breeding industry Chris Van Bussel, one of the driving forces at Seelster Farms, was elected to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in the "Builders" category in 2004. As well, he was inducted into Western Fair Raceway’s Wall of Fame.

For 50 plus years the names Van Bussel and Seelster Farms have come to represent the best in Canada’s standardbred breeding industry.

Beck was born in Baden, Ontario. In 1885 he moved his cigar box manufacturing company to London. In 1902 he was elected mayor of London for a three-year term. At the same time he represented London in the provincial legislative assembly (1902-1919 and 1923-1925). A member of the provincial cabinet (1905-1914 and 1923-1925) he presided in 1906 over the enactment of the law establishing the Ontario Hydro Electric Power Commission. As chairman of that body, 1906-1925, he was largely responsible for its successful establishment and growth which led to a policy of low cost electrical distribution not only in urban areas, but up and down the back roads of rural Ontario. He was knighted in 1914.

The induction ceremony will be held in the Carousel Room of Western Fair District on Wednesday, March 6 beginning at 11:30 a.m.

(With files from Western Fair District)

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