Paul Ekstein immigrated to Canada from Czechoslovakia as a child with his parents, and became a leading seed dealer, Holstein cattle breeder and showman, and even an advisor to the Cuban government regarding forage production. Most of what he accomplished resulted from plain hard work, his passion for agriculture, and his innate ability to see potential in cows.
Paul started in the seed business, after completing the OAC 2-year diploma course, by forming Quality Seeds Ltd., which was just Paul buying, mixing, and selling seeds to a gradually expanding market. He later hired two salesmen to permit him to follow his main dream to buy, develop, and merchandise Holstein cattle. The seed business grew, and later his son Ari took it over and expanded it to become a major supplier to the forage, lawn and turf markets with 75 sales representatives.
When Paul could afford to get into cattle, he made an agreement with Gerald Livingston at Woodbridge to house cattle he and Bertram Stewart had bought jointly, including one heifer from Livingston himself. That agreement lasted 20 years and usually involved 15-20 animals owned by Ekstein. In September 1980, Paul bought a farm near Livingston’s Sunny Maple Holsteins, gradually growing the barn from 36 stalls to 74, and the land base to 650 acres of owned and rented land. His sharp eye for cattle led him to acquire many great cows who produced outstanding offspring, both male and female. Quality Ultimate, a bull who stood at United Breeders, put Quality Holsteins on the map; and Plushanski Valiant Fran whom Paul bought became the dam of seven Excellent and 29 Very Good daughters, and five Excellent and 10 Very Good sons. For many years she was the highest ranked Star Brood Holstein cow in Canada.
Ever a keen showman, Ekstein participated at the Royal Winter Fair 54 consecutive years (to 2007) and was Premier Breeder four times and Premier Exhibitor once. Six of his Breeder’s Herds won All-Canadian titles. Taking advantage of his excellent breeding and showmanship, Paul had eight herd sales, five of them the top sale of the year.
The continuing purchases of Holstein heifers by Cuba brought Paul into contact with Armin Pascual, the chief buyer, who persuaded him to set up a Forage Seed Program in Cuba to support the Canadian cows in their new home. That program improved the quality of Cuban pastures and the health and production of the cattle enough to enable Paul to offer similar services in several other countries as well.