CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - P.E.I. dairy farmer Daniel MacKinnon was more than a bit flattered by the company he was in Friday.
Island household names like Catherine Hennessey and Mary Boyd, both members of the Order of Canada, were gathered with him and 21 others at Government House to receive a Senate Canada 150 medal.
Well-known entrepreneur Ray Murphy, a member of the Order of P.E.I., got the same medal as MacKinnon Friday as well.
So, too, did Diagnostic Chemicals Limited founder Regis Duffy and his wife, Joan, a pair of Islanders who have a research centre in their name.
Among many other readily familiar Islanders getting the nod for the Senate Canada 150 medal was Abegweit First Nation Chief Brian Francis, who was given the honour to serve as the marshall for the 2017 Gold Cup Parade.
All in all, the owner/operator of Sandyrae Farms in Brooklyn, P.E.I. found the medal recipients to be a rather impressive collective group – one he was quite thrilled to join on this day.
“Beyond anything you would imagine to read that list and say ‘holy smokes, am I in with those people,’ ’’ says MacKinnon.
“It’s hard to imagine that’s who you are lumped in with today.’’
MacKinnon’s name may not be as recognizable to as many Islanders as, say, the names Hennessey and Boyd.
But he has done more than his share to make a mark in both the dairy industry and in his community, paving his way to earning the Senate Canada 150 antiqued bronze table medal that is being awarded to Canadians or permanent residents actively involved in their communities who, through generosity, dedication, volunteerism and hard work, make their hometowns, communities, regions, provinces or territories a better place to live.
MacKinnon has been involved in provincial, regional and national dairy associations for decades, including serving on the board of the Canadian Dairy Network, which is responsible for the genetic evaluation of all the dairy breeds in Canada.
At 63, the sixth-generation farmer still spends 60 to 70 hours in the barn.
In earlier years, he spent a great deal of time coaching soccer and minor hockey, as well as serving as a 4-H leader.
“I enjoy working with these young people,’’ he notes.
“We have probably given 20 young people their first job (at Sandyrae Farms). That takes mentoring. That times time, too.’’
MacKinnon, who worked for five years with the province’s agriculture department as an extension agricultural engineer, has also given back to the community by judging science fairs and fundraising for the Kings County Cancer Society.
“I know this Island runs on volunteerism,’’ he notes.
“It takes a lot.’’