Gib Patterson receives Macdonald Distinguished Alumni Award. Courtesy Photo

METCALFE – Gibson (Gib) Patterson has been awarded the Macdonald Distinguished Alumni Award. The award was created by the Macdonald Branch of the McGill Alumni Association.

While there, he received a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture.

The award recognizes distinguished graduates for their outstanding professional contributions, scholarly distinction and/or service to the community at large. The first awards were presented at HomeComing 2006 and are awarded at HomeComing every year.

Patterson said he was flattered to have been nominated and given the award. He feels that all he has ever done in his life is simply work hard and enjoy life, treating it like a game.

He has excelled as a farmer, teacher and in real estate with his golf courses. Along the way he has supported his community in any way he can.

He remembers how he enjoyed going to university because it gave him the chance to meet people from all over the world.

“I would always be asking them questions about what their homes were like and why did they come here.”

“I just play at the game of life, so I have never worked a day in my life, I just get up each morning and I am ready to play,” he said.

He remembered when he was working with his father on their farm on Hunt Club Road.

“We grew a lot of potatoes, and back in those days everything was done by hand. We had a team of horses, but we did not have a little tractor until 1947. I had to weed these big, long rows of potatoes, and my father would not let me use the hoe in case I might cut some part off or interfere with little ones underneath. He said you have to pull the weeds and shake the dirt off of them. It was a tedious job. I was about 13 years old, and I had saved up to buy a watch and I had that with me. I decided to time myself  doing the rows and see if I could do the next one faster. The job then was not work but a game to see if I could do the next row faster. If I missed any weeds my father would make me do it over again.”

He said when he got older he joined the 4-H club. 

“That got me away from my farm and I met other people and other farmers. My life then changed with the 4-H program. One of the motto’s of the 4-H club was to Learn by doing.”

Patterson believes that once you learn how to do something, you will be able to relatively easily be able to do it over again.

In 1962 he married Elsie Martin, and together they bought a 100-acre farm near Metcalfe, Ontario, 13 miles south of Hunt Club Road Home Farm, where he grew up.

The couple has four children.

One of his favourite memories was becoming a renowned judge of potatoes throughout the province.

“My 4-H leader taught me how to coach, and as result my brother and I became the championship potato judges for Canada,” he said.

“What my brother and I were happy about was that we beat the ones from Prince Edward Island. We learned from the PEI people how they became so successful.”

Patterson was born at Billings Bridge RR#1 in Gloucester Township, Ontario, which now is known as a number on Hunt Club Road.

He was born in the same room where his father was born 38 years earlier. After school at Hopewell Public School in Ottawa, he went to Ottawa Technical High School in downtown Ottawa. He enrolled at Macdonald College in General Agriculture to learn the science of farming and agriculture. He graduated in 1960 and started his new job as “assistant AG rep” in Hastings County; in charge of the Junior Educational work of 4-H and Junior Farmers on May 1 of that year. He started teaching at Osgoode Township High School in 1963, and taught physical education, math, chemistry and science for nine years while farming and doing some real estate courses in his spare time.

The opportunity to purchase some land presented itself in 1971, which was the start of his golf business. He installed a golf driving range, mini golf, and dairy bar on Hunt Club Road Home Farm, near Ottawa airport and the Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club. Developing land for golf courses spoke to his science background – to grow green grass led to “Go Green, Go Golfing” theme all while still planting 600 acres in soybeans, wheat and hay. Patterson’s lasting legacy is his tireless contribution to community work in agriculture, from teaching 4-H youth about leadership and tillage conservation to hosting regional and international plowing matches. As well, he volunteered with countless organizations, often in a leadership position.

The three Patterson golf courses built by Patterson and his family, host many functions that contribute to local community charities, such as the Ottawa Hospital, the Bob Pugh Golf Classic, raising monies for four scholarships at Macdonald, and the legacy golf tournament “Plowing for a Cure” which raises funds for the Canadian Cancer Society. His contributions have earned him numerous awards – the Order of Ottawa and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal among many others.