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Ronald Beattie passes at 88

September 4, 2020   ·   0 Comments

The community suffered a significant loss on August 21 when Ronald Kenneth (R.K) Beattie passed away at the age of 88.

He was extremely active throughout New Tecumseth, working at the Alliston Fire Department for 45 years and was the youngest person on Town Council, where he served in the 1960s and 70s.

“He’s just one of these guys that was involved in everything, if there was something going on, he was there,” said Mayor Rick Milne, who was a good friend of R.K Beattie.

“The community was his love and he wanted to see things done. He volunteered thousands of hours to the community and I know financially he supported the community in a lot of non-profit organizations as well.”

R.K Beattie was active with the Potato Festival, local minor hockey league, the curling club and helped the Knox Church recover after a devastating fire in January 1976.

He was Chairman of the Building Committee for Knox Church and after 164 meetings the new church was opened debt free in April of 1977.

R.K Beattie also helped build the Alliston Library in 1981 and the “Eleaner Valentine Beattie Pedestrian Bridge,” which opened in October of 1974.

“He negotiated with the Gibson family for the Gibson Center, he cleaned it all up and got it restored,” said Donna Beattie, Ronald Beattie’s oldest daughter.

“When Dad took a task on he always made sure it was done right and always his way,” she added.

“Dad was rough around the edges but when you got through the crust, he had a heart of gold and would help you out any way he could.”

Mayor Milne said R.K Beattie was very straightforward and always told it like it is.

“Whatever R.K was saying, whether you liked it or you didn’t like it, he told you, and he told you how it was and was known sometimes for his gruffness, but I know that deep down in his heart he had the best interests of the community,” he said.

The Beattie family settled in Alliston in 1906, after Roland and his wife Charlotte (R.K Beattie’s grandparents) sold their Livery Stable business in Wingham, Ontario. Roland bought 300 acres, including the Pinery which is recognized as the largest stand of virgin pine in Ontario.

The Beattie family sold the Pinery to the Nature Conservancy of Canada after protecting its natural state for 75 years and he also gave a large donation to help preserve it.

The Pinery was one of the first projects for the Ontario Parks Legacy 2000 program and is now known as the Beattie Pinery Provincial Nature Reserve.

Mackenzie Beattie was the only son of Roland and Charlotte, who had an only child as well, which was R.K Beattie.

Mackenzie Beattie built the subdivisions that started Mackenzie Street, Hancy Crescent and Beattie Avenue in Alliston.

In 1950 when R.K Beattie was just 18 years old, he purchased his first farm where he grew tobacco and potatoes.

He later married his wife, Mary Elizabeth McFarlane in March of 1956 before having four children, Ken, Donna, John and Jane.

In the 1970s R.K and Mary Beattie sold off their tobacco rights due to a changing climate with colder summers, making potatoes their main crop.

From 1975 to 1976 R.K Beattie had the largest potato contract in North America with Frito Lay. He also negotiated potato contracts for Salad Foods and Hostess Foods a few years prior.

In 1989 he bought into Small Fry Potato Snack Foods and in the early 90s it bought Humpty Dumpty Snack Foods, which sold to Old Dutch Potato Chips in 1996.

In the years after he started selling potatoes to Olde York Potato Chips, which Ken (his son) still sells to today.

Donna Beattie said R.K was a risk taker for sure, always playing the market to see the best time to sell his potato harvest.

“It was nerve racking at times but he made out okay,” she noted.

Donna Beattie added that not only was her mom, Mary, R.K Beattie’s lifelong partner, but also worked alongside him as well, running the tobacco crew when it was in operation and when it stopped, she ran the elevator to store potatoes.

In the 2000s, R.K Beattie opened Willie’s Car and Van Wash, named after his dog, which he thought would be a good first job for some of his grandchildren.

His granddaughters Brittany, Christie, Sarah, Heather and Ashley all took an interest, working there. Ashley has worked there from the beginning and has run the business for the last seven years.

Back in February of this year, Ashley and R.K Beattie rode through the car wash as the one millionth vehicle.

“That was the last time I seen a huge smile on his face,” noted Donna Beattie.

Rick Milne said R.K Beattie was incredibly generous and a strong pillar in the community.

“He was a very giving person, if you needed something you’d go to R.K Beattie and he would help you out and get things done,” he lauded.  “I just think that we had the pleasures of having a person like Ronnie Beattie in our area and the things that he did to improve the community.”

By Sam Odrowski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter


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