When I ask 4-H’rs what their favourite thing about 4-H is, time and time again, I get the response that it’s the friendships they’ve made. There are many life-long friendships that evolve from the kitchen tables of local Club leaders and at the provincial 4-H camps and conferences. I’d like to take the time to share with you one of the many stories of life-long friendship that has began with a 4-H event; the story of Lynda and Eleanor and their 55 years of friendship. This is a truly amazing story so I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed sharing it.
As Lynda Shaw so perfectly put it, her and Eleanor Lennox’s story is “really a story of life long friendship.” Lynda and Eleanor met through 4-H more than 55 years ago and their chance encounter blossomed in to a beautiful friendship that has been a cornerstone in their lives.
Growing up, both Lynda and Eleanor’s families were involved in the sheep industry. The families’ agricultural background led the girls to join 4-H where they took to showing and fell in love with the 4-H program. The girls lived in separate towns, Lynda was from Glencoe and Eleanor was from Ilderton, but fortunately for them, their paths crossed one summer day at the Middlesex 4-H Show. The girls were briefly introduced at this time, and they decided to travel to the Royal Agricultural Fair together in November. This encounter marked the beginning of their life long friendship.
November came quickly and the girls were all set for their trip to the Royal. Lynda and her cousin, Mary Kathryn, met Eleanor on the train in Glencoe and their journey began. For three young girls who were only 15 years old, this expedition was quite the adventure! It was the first time both Eleanor and Lynda had gone in to the city without their parents and they were both nervous and eager. “It was wonderful and quite exciting because we were the girls from the farm,” shares Lynda.
When the train arrived in Toronto, the girls departed at Sunny Side and headed to the Exhibition ground. They were guided by a 4-H Leader to the residence they would occupy for the next few days.
The Royal activities began with showing their steers on the Thursday. This was an incredible experience for both Lynda and Eleanor. “There were over 300 members who had steers in the Queens Guineas class,” shares Lynda. She goes on to explain how each Member proudly wore an all white 4-H showmanship uniform, which included a white knit sweater with the 4-H emblem sewn on in 4-H green. “You walked in to the room and saw a sea of sparkling white wool sweaters; it was truly unbelievable.”
“You walked in to the room and saw a sea of sparkling white wool sweaters; it was truly unbelievable.”
After showing their animals, Lynda, Eleanor and Mary Katherine spent Friday exploring downtown Toronto during the day, and attending a 4-H organized dance at night. Their final day at the Royal was spent watching international show jumping. “Lynda loved horses and she introduced me to international jumping,” said Eleanor. This was one of Eleanor’s first experiences with horse jumping and she was awe struck by the sport.
By the end of their three day journey, the roots of Eleanor and Lynda’s friendship had been securely planted. Sharing this unique experience at the Royal together built a strong foundation for a friendship that has been instrumental in both of their lives. Eleanor and Lynda spent the next two years going to show at the Queen’s Guineas together, and they also saw each other at the Middlesex 4-H Show.
When their time came to graduate from high school they decided to room together at University. The pair attended Teacher’s College together after Lynda convinced Eleanor to join her on this next incredible journey, and they continued to live together until Lynda moved out to be married. They were bridesmaids in one another’s weddings, and even after Eleanor moved away from Middlesex to Toronto, they remained best friends seeing each other every year on their birthdays, which are just two days apart.
Now, 55 years later, their friendship is as strong as ever. “My relationship with Lynda means the world to me,” shares Eleanor. To celebrate their friendship, every five years, Eleanor and Lynda get together to embark on a new adventure. Last fall, the two went back to where it all started, the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. “The Royal is very special to both of us,” said Lynda. This was the first time since their 4-H days that Lynda and Eleanor had ventured to the Royal together. This trip flooded back fond memories and reminded them of the amazing time they had together that first November that they became friends.
“My relationship with Lynda means the world to me,” shares Eleanor.
“Life just would not be at all the same without her in my life,” notes Lynda. “We’ve remained best friends, we don’t have a bad word to say to each other. Our friendship is just totally special. You can get by in life without a lot of things but you can’t get by without your friends.”
Congratulations to 55 years of amazing friendship, Lynda and Eleanor.
4-H Ontario’s Alumni program is funded through a Promotional Partnership with Hyland Seeds, including the position of 4-H Ontario’s Coordinator, Alumni Services. Hyland Seeds is passionate about agriculture and believes in supporting the people who are deeply rooted in the agricultural industry; dedication to 4-H is proof of this commitment. Thank you Hyland Seeds!