Skip navigation

Saturday January 12, 2013

Ernest Ford Crossland ''Mr. Newmarket'
Ernie entered this world on August 5, 1920 and spent the next 92 years trying to make it a better place . Having accomplished his goal he peacefully departed for new opportunities elsewhere on January 9, 2013.

He is predeceased by his parents James and Mae Crossland (nee Struthers) and brothers Waldie and James. He was the devoted husband of Jean Crossland (nee Merritt) who for 67 years loved and supported him in every way. And he was an exceptional role model to his 7 children, Sandy (Tom Milakovic), Sue (Al Collins), Jude (Ed Roman), Jim (Pat Barker), Peg (Wayne Brightwell), Linda (Bob Wilbur) and Bill (Jaye Robinson), and a larger than life grandfather to 15 and great grandfather to 8.
He has had a lifelong love and respect for nature and conservation. As a child he was a member of the Toronto Field Naturalists, an avid bird watcher and an amateur photographer. His impressive collection of wild bird eggs and photographs are now housed at the Scanlon Creek Outdoor Education Centre in Bradford, Ontario. An accomplished athlete, he graduated from Ridley College in St. Catharines in 1939 with ''First Team Colours'' in Football, Basketball, Gymnastics and Boxing. In 1944 he graduated from Ontario Agricultural College (now University of Guelph) with a B.Sc. in Agriculture and an Intercollegiate Boxing Championship. He married Jean, the love of his life, in 1945 and moved to his beloved Newmarket in 1949 where they lived for the next 63 years.
He had a diverse career that included stints as a King Township Councillor, a Member of the Assessment Review Board and a Member of the Ontario Municipal Board. But he was first and foremost a farmer with a large, highly successful dairy, sheep and cash crop operation on Yonge Street in Newmarket. He was known for his prize winning Guernsey cattle and was President of the York County Milk Producers Association, the York County Soil and Crop Improvement Association and the Ontario Guernsey Breeders Association. However, his true love and calling was as a tireless community builder and vocal and active advocate for the environment. He was a member of Lions International for more than 60 years, including Club President and District Governor, and was a Director of Lake Simcoe Conservation Foundation for almost 30 years including 5 years as President. Around town ''Mr. Newmarket'' was known for his tenacious ''can do'' approach, infectious enthusiasm and always positive attitude. ''Can't'' was not in his vocabulary and ''no'' was considered just a negotiating point. With a ''Go Big or Go Home'' philosophy there was virtually no task he would not take on. As Extension Chairman for Lions International he formed 25 new Lions Clubs around Ontario. He was Founder and Chairman of Newmarket's Fairy Lake Artisan Festival, the Nokiidaa Trail that connects the towns of Holland Landing, Newmarket and Aurora, the Newmarket Festival of Lights, and was Co-Founder of York Region Habitat for Humanity.
While always reluctant to take credit for his accomplishments, he was honoured to be the recipient of numerous awards recognizing his efforts including: the First Honorary Citizen of Newmarket Award, the George Richardson Conservation Award, two Queens Jubilee Medals, the A. D. Latornell Conservation Pioneer Award, Newmarket Citizen of the Year and the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship.
In honour of his lifelong commitment to conservation and the environment, in 2009 the Town of Newmarket and Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority established the Ernie and Jean Crossland Environmental Scholarship Fund which provides annual scholarships to deserving students in the Lake Simcoe watershed who are pursuing post-secondary studies focused on the environment. Ensuring the next generation has the tools to be strong stewards of the environment was one of Ernie's most important goals.
If you were lucky enough to meet Ernie, or more likely see him in action, you would have experienced a rare individual, a true humanitarian, a visionary with an unprecedented passion for his community. He will be dearly missed but his legacies will live on.
Special thanks go to ''his girls'' in the Emergency Department of Southlake Health Centre, niece Kate Smith and her husband Barry, and the staff at Eagle Terrace, all of whom have provided exceptional love and care over the last few years.
A Celebration of Life will take place at St. Paul's Anglican Church, 227 Church Street, Newmarket on Saturday January 19, 2013 at 2:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, donations to Ernie & Jean Crossland Environmental Scholarship at will ensure Ernie's spirit of conservation is kept alive for the benefit of future generations.

Back to top