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Bill MacKenzie has installed a new bench honouring his late father, John Oliver MacKenzie, near his gravestone at the Alliston Union Cemetery. His father was the first farmer to grow potatoes in Ontario on a large scale and is credited with making the community the potato capital of the province. (Photo: Brad Pritchard/Metroland)

Alliston, Ont. potato farmer John O. MacKenzie honoured

There’s a new monument honouring the man whose innovations in potato farming helped make Alliston the spud capital of Ontario.

A black stone bench complete with a potato etched in gold leaf now sits across from the grave of John Oliver MacKenzie at the Alliston Union Cemetery.

The bench was paid for by his son, Bill MacKenzie, who is passionate about honouring Alliston’s potato pioneers.

“I think he would be really proud if he were here to see this,” Bill said. “He deserved it.”

John O. MacKenzie was born on May 9, 1885, and was raised near the First Line and 25th Sideroad in Mono Township. After the death of his parents, he moved to Alliston in 1917 and purchased 160 acres of land.

The following year, John planted 50 acres of potatoes, which at the time was about 45 acres more than anyone had ever planted before in Ontario.

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