In the early 1960's a group of rabbit breeders began a club known as the Rabbit Breeders of Nova Scotia Association (RBNSA). The president was J.C. Whall.
The RBNSA had been inactive for many years when a new group known as the Nova Scotia Rabbit Breeders Association (NSRBA) was founded on May 15th, 1971. Wilfred Chipman was the self appointed president of the new group and Stephen Bennett was vice president. The rest of the executive was as follows: Joan Chipman as the Corresponding Secretary; Recording Secretary, Betty Hubley; Treasurer, Ken Clarke; two youth conveyers, Linda Chipman and Robert MacLellan; and, in those days, a Publicity Agent, Bruce Barrington. The first meeting, held at the Agricultural College (AC) in Truro, saw 42 persons in attendance.
The second meeting was held on June 12, 1971. The first family memberships were taken by Mr. & Mrs. Chipman, Mr. & Mrs. Jackson, and Mr. & Mrs. MacLellan. Craig Creelman was the first individual member.
The NSRBA had their first show on May 13, 1972. The rabbit judge was Clifford Tanner with cavy judge Gary Patterson. The show was held in the Boulden Building at the AC in Truro. Some 250 people viewed rabbits at that first show, a pretty hefty crowd. The show drew 70 participants who entered 96 rabbits and 26 cavies. Best in Show was won by Bob Rodgers with a Senior Dutch Buck. It might be worth noting that membership in those days stood at 81.
August 19, 1972 saw the first barbecue held at the 5C's Bunny Farm in Debert, Nova Scotia. Sixty people enjoyed barbecue rabbit and various salads despite the poor weather.
The 1972 Fall Show was also held at the Boulden Building on Saturday, October 7. The judges were again Clifford Tanner and Gary Patterson. Although only 29 people entered, exhibits numbered 153 rabbits and 18 cavies. This time Best of Show was won by Sandale Farm. That Saturday also saw the counting of secret ballots for the first election since the group started. The results of this election were: President, Wilfred Chipman; Vice President, Gary Patterson; Secretary, Joan Chipman; Recording Secretary, Betty Hubley; and Treasurer, Ken Clare.
During December of 1972 the group were told that a rabbit processing plant would be built at Rexton, New Brunswick. The NSRBA had 128 members at this time, enough to provide a processing plant with a good many pounds of rabbit. To date this plant has not operated.
However, on March 24, 1973, representatives from Lo Rock Processing Plant of Cherry Valley, Ontario met with the Nova Scotia rabbit breeders. At this meeting the breeders were informed that a shipping lane had been established between provincial breeders and the Ontarion processing plant. Horst Loesche and Chick Labelle, the Lo Rock representatives, ensured they could handle all the rabbits that Nova Scotia and New Brunswick could produce. The figures at that point were 1200 weekly. The Lo Rock plant stopped its operation in 1975.
Truro's Victoria Park was the site for the First Annual Youth Show on August 11, 1973. This show was open only to junior members. As with the barbecue the previous year, bad weather prevailed and only 13 rabbits and 15 cavies were displayed. Judge Bud Smith of Wolfville awarded Best of Show to a Champagne d'Argent owned by Pam Harris of Porters Lake.
The Second Annual Youth Show and Barbecue was held under fairer weather, which saw attendance grow to 50 rabbits and 15 cavies. Note that at this point the organization changed its name from the Nova Scotia Rabbit Breeders Association to the Maritime Rabbit Breeders Association (MRBA).
Dominion Rabbit and Cavy Breeders Association Standards were used for judging in these early years. However, on August 21, 1994, 90% of attending members agreed to start using the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) Standards. Hence, they were adopted and used on September 17, 1994 at the Fall Show.
The MRBA has long since been associated with 4-H in the Maritimes and many young 4-H'ers have acquired quality rabbits for their projects from our breeders. As well, many have gone on to breed and show rabbits after their 4-H days.