Todd Robert Little
by Myra Chepack
Todd was born at Scarborough Centenary Hospital on April 4th, 1973. He was the first son of Robert and Carol (Hoover). Younger brother Darren, who in 2016 is the 1st Vice-President of the Fair, was born three years later. Todd’s grandparents, Carl and Earlene Hoover, raised Holstein cattle at their farm at Dickson’s Hill just to the west of Hwy. 48, in the same block as the ‘new’ Fairgrounds.
Todd was raised at the Little homestead on Steeles Avenue east of the 9th Line where his grandparents, Archie and Helen Little (Freeman) raised Jersey cattle. Grandmother Helen, prior to becoming Archie’s wife began her teaching career at the one room school house on 14th Avenue in Cedar Grove. This, of course meant she worked for a relatively low salary, shovelled the snow and warmed the building if necessary, as well as teaching all grades and maintaining discipline among the students. Archie Little, as her new husband, maintained he “saved” her by bringing her home to the farm!
Todd was steeped in farming from birth and although he did not go on to become a dairy farmer, agricultural pursuits are very much a part of who he is today. As a very young child he was persistent in trailing his Grampa and Uncle Barry to the barn, despite his Mother’s vigilance. With a good supply of young cattle at hand, Todd was able to experience the effort and excitement of exhibiting dairy cattle through 4-H at local Fairs, including Markham Fair. The jersey cattle on the Little farm were the oldest registered dairy herd at the age of one hundred and seventeen, in Canada in 2008. In that year, Todd helped his uncle Barry relocate the herd, an arduous and emotional event for the Little family.
With the benefit of growing up a stone’s throw from Cedar Grove, Todd was immersed in a culture where many of his neighbours were descendants of the people who settled the land. That continuity and connection to the land was absorbed by the young Todd and the Markham Fair became an extension of his life. He has been a committee member for thirty-one years and on the Board of Directors for twenty-two. Although he has served primarily on Grounds and Capital Projects, Todd involves himself wherever the need arises and sees the Fair from many perspectives. He has a very high regard for the General Manager, John Peco, whose initiatives such as the” Lend a Hand” program are celebrated by Todd. He credits the many people who have served on the Board for sharing their visions, expertise and dedication through the almost quarter century he has, in his words, “had the privilege” to participate. He believes that an early involvement with the Fair will result in people who will continue as adults to feel some ownership and responsibility and considers every volunteer a valuable asset and the smallest of contributions to be important. Todd believes in inclusiveness, working together and keeping in mind the old values. He sees the Fair as an important rural connection for the urban residents and a venue to promote the hands on culinary and needlecraft skills becoming more popular with the current generation.
Todd Little is the fifth person in the Little family to serve as a Markham Fair President. George (Geordie) Little served in 1946 and 1947, his closest and influential Uncle Barry served in 1983. Dad, Robert was President in 1992 and Todd’s cousin, Kim Empringham, daughter of Barry, was President in 2003. It is also noted that John Little, Todd’s great, great Grandfather was President of the Scarborough Agricultural Society which joined with East York Agricultural Society (today’s Markham Fair Board) in mutual agricultural pursuits. Todd’s Grandfather, Archie was featured on the cover of the 1992 Prize Book depicted whittling his “whimmy diddles”, surrounded by children. This was an activity pursued and promoted in conjunction with neighbour Simeon Reesor, Grandfather of the 2004 Fair President, Paul Reesor. These two neighbours and good friends, as retired farmers, continued to be enterprising and community spirited well into their old age. Todd’s mother, Carol has been an active member of the Homecraft Committee for many, many years and is intimate with the long term dedication experienced by so many members of her family.
He is the proud Dad of sons Chase Robert age 13 and Wyatt William age 11 who are very keen Fair supporters and committee members. Although Todd is employed in the Utilities sector, the draw of agriculture has pulled him, as well into a family farm operation in Uxbridge. With the boys by his side he has followed the path of many of the original settlers and over the past five years has cleared 75 of the 100 acres there, which is now producing cash crops. Todd was a hockey player in his younger days and has passed this passion onto his sons. He and his sons enjoy a great deal of time together participating in rep hockey competitions and preparation for up-coming seasons. Todd treasures this opportunity to replicate the relationship he so enjoyed with his parents, while growing up.
President Todd Little brings a great deal of history to his year as President of Markham Fair, although he minimizes the importance of his role in this position while celebrating the opportunity to go forward with even more enthusiasm for future endeavours on the Fair’s behalf.