The Back Breaking Leaf

Delhi, Ontario.  1959

click on the arrow to play. click on the rectangle next to the options tab to watch in full screen…..

This high quality video produced by the National Film Board of Canada in 1959 is all about Delhi, Ontario and the tobacco farming industry that flourished at the time.

I have seen parts of this film over the years, but finally found the full version after minutes of exhaustive searching on Google. I had no idea that the video was shot in my hometown of Delhi, Ontario, I thought it was just about tobacco farming in general since I have never seen the beginning of the film. The first 5-10 minutes has lots of great shots around Delhi in the late 50’s.

When this film was produced, tobacco was a very popular cash crop, Delhi was the center of Tobacco Country and most farmers did very well with it, as is discussed in the film. Today, its all but gone. Most farms have switched to other crops with varying success as the soil type in the area is mostly sand, and not too suitable for many crops. The town of Delhi struggles, and is only a shadow of its former self with most businesses that relied on tobacco long gone. Its a classic example of a town who’s entire way of life ended quickly.

While our family were not tobacco farmers, we did have a strong connection to the industry as my grandfather was very well known among tobacco farmers and was integral in the development of much of the machinery that modernized tobacco farming. This film was shot before most of his contributions were adopted. Needless to say, a lot of the manual work was eliminated.

More on my grandfather, W.C. Kelsey and his relationship with tobacco can be found on the W.C. Kelsey Blog here.


About the Author:

I'm your host, Tim Warris, a product developer in Port Dover, Ontario. Since March of 2007 I have been documenting the construction of the former CNJ Bronx Terminal in HO scale. For my day job, I design track building tools for Fast Tracks, a small company I own and operate. Fast Tracks makes it fast and easy to hand lay your own trackwork. Stop by our website to learn more!

Posted by: Tim | 08-24-2008 | 10:08 AM
Posted in: Latest Posts | Tobacco


  1. Hey Tim,

    A great film about the tobacco industry! I had thoughts in my teenage years of heading out to Delhi to make some real money but I’m sure glad that I didn’t. Thanks for posting.


    Comment by Terry Firth — August 24, 2008 @ 12:43 pm
  2. I wasn’t there in the late 50’s but I did that job during the 80’s for many years. It could be brutal at times.

    Comment by Paul Laevens — August 24, 2008 @ 1:42 pm

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