ABOUT US - History
In 1993, I naively acquired my first Border Collie, "Boomer", from a backyard breeder. Shortly thereafter, we moved to our present location in North Hatley. While out walking one morning, I met an elderly farmer with 3 muddy black and white dogs at heel. The farmer was none other than Alex McKinven, a well-known Scottish dairy herdsman and working Border Collie enthusiast, and the dogs were Glen (Boomer's grand-dad), Meg and Nell.
It could be said that Alex is responsible for bringing the working Border Collie into Quebec, and many Quebecers with BCs could perhaps find Glen, Meg or Nell if they look back far enough in their dog's pedigrees.
That very day, Boomer and I had our first exposure to the world of working sheep and I was hooked! Over the years, Alex mentored me and taught me about sheep husbandry and the working border Collie, and in 1995 presented me with a puppy, "Cessnock Jess", who became my very first trial dog and from whom I learned so much!
Click through the slide show above and links below to learn more about Alex, his dogs and the history of the working Border Collie in Quebec. ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE MCKINVEN FAMILY
Imp Glen Tweed (sire of our Jess)
Tweed was imported from Scotland and was the son of the legendary ##Spot (JH Wilson).
Workng Border Collies come to Quebec
Alex McKinven came from Fifeshire, Scotland in 1950 to work as Herdsman for Mrs. Arthur Virgin's Jerseys at Clematis Farm, in North Hatley, Québec. Alex's uncle had already been in Canada working on the Experimental farm in Ottawa for a number of years. He had been importing Border Collies from Scotland through the Shepherd retained in Fifeshire to look after the sheep.
Mrs. Virgin, however, thought that dogs were only good for biting off tails and never allowed any near her prized Jerseys. So Alex worked for 14 years at Clematis Farm before he decided that he would have a dog regardless!
Alex received The Scottish Farmer and was able to keep abreast of trials and Border Collie bloodlines. Since Mrs. Virgin lived most of the year at One Sutton Place in New York City, Alex managed to get a dog from his father's bloodlines, and used him during the winter to move heifers and different cattle from one field to another.
One spring, Mrs. Virgin returned to Clematis early and asked Alex to gather a bunch of heifers into the yard so that she could look them over. "Naturally", Alex remembers, "at that time of the year animals are apt to be frisky and full of life. They veered away from us breaking up in two different directions. My dog was hidden upstairs in the house and was taught to keep quiet. However, I decided it was now time for her to see a dog work! He did a wonderful job of rounding up the scattered heifers. (Mrs. Virgin) could hardly credit her eyes. From that day on she invited all her friends up to the farm to see my dogs work."
In 1969, Alex imported Meg ISDS 47267 (see pedigree file, at right), a 2 year old bitch that became the foundation for his well known Cessnock kennel. Meg was imported already bred to Cap ISDS 50543 (see pedigree file,at right), later bought by J.J. Templeton, who handled him to the title of Supreme Int'l Champion in 1972. Alex kept a male pup from that very first litter, and called him Tweed.
Imp. Meg (Pedigree)
Templeton's ##Cap (Pedigree)
Alex McKinven used his dogs primarily for working the farm, but as the sport of sheepdog trialing became popular in the Northeastern United States, Alex began to fine tune his dogs on sheep.
Many successes followed through the years with notable dogs Kate (out of his imported Meg by Bob Walker's Chip), Judy, Old Moss, Rob, Cooperlane Glen, Meg and Moss.
When Alex retired from farming, he kept up with training, and continued to produce quality working Border Collies for new and upcoming handlers.
In May, 2006, Alex passed away, leaving a legacy of some of the best working Border Collie bloodlines this side of the pond.