A long-time resident and farming entrepreneur in Portage la Prairie recently passed away, leaving a great legacy behind. Ed Connery's daughter-in-law Beth Connery explains how the business in Portage began.
"Ed started growing more and more vegetables in St. Vital," explains Beth Connery. "They started out with bedding plants. And they were finding that Red River 'gumbo' was really hard to deal with. So, they started looking around the province for an area where they could move and grow vegetables. Portage la Prairie had what they wanted. It had good soil, available water, and it's got a nice microclimate around here."
She notes the early 60s saw Connery drive back and forth looking for land. Summers then saw him drive back and forth, growing here as well as in St. Vital. Connery says he, Bev and the young family moved to Portage permanently when they started their market gardening and expanded over time. As years went by, a wide variety of crops were grown, and 1970 saw the wash plant for carrots open for production. She says carrots and onions were grown for Campbell Soup, followed by efforts in several different avenues. Connery says many people were employed, Ed cared for many people and was heavily involved in the community.
"He was heavily involved in things like Rotary," continues Connery. "He was one of the ones who put a lot of work into the Republic of Manitobah Park. He was the one who started the Rotary Vegetable Sale. He was also involved in Habitat for Humanity. He was involved in bringing Cable Vision to Portage la Prairie. He was also very politically interested in what was going on because he liked getting things done."
Connery says the mid-80s saw him elected into the Legislature when he became Minister in 1988 through 1992. He then continued helping the boys on the farm, Jeff and Doug.
She notes they were busy with raising the family, with the Koko Platz Community Club, and refereeing hockey games with his cigar in his hand. Connery says he drove throughout Portage quite often helping people. She adds people were important to him, and he felt they were the greatest resources we have.