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Graduate Students

Marret, Clara - M.A

The Ontario Agricultural College (1874-1974): Some Developments in Scientific Agriculture - Dr. Masters, advisor

         This thesis is an investigation of the Ontario Agricultural College and some developments which that institution has made in scientific agriculture. Founded in 1874, the College is Canada's oldest center devoted to providing a scientific milieu for agricultural programs.
         Following Confederation, Ontario's first, albeit short-lived, government under John Sandfield Macdonald initiated the concept for a "School of Agriculture"; the second, and much longer-lived government under Oliver Mowat established the "Ontario Agricultural School and Experimental Farm." Subsequent governments during the century have continued financial support to the College, and have relied heavily on the institution's professors and graduates as resource personnel for innumerable kinds of scientific expertise in agriculture.
         Considerable care has been taken in this thesis to trace the activities of the Ontario Agricultural College against the backdrop of the province's agricultural economy and the problems associated with it. Indeed, it was in providing both practical and scientific solutions to innumerable problems that the College has found its raison d'etre. Generations of faculty and students have operated in not a static environment but one characterized by flux. In,1874 the challenges were associated with an agricultural base which was still somewhat pioneer traditional, and largely labour-oriented, and in which approximately 75% of the population participated primarily as a "way of life." Following a century of dynamic changes, the challenges of 1974 are associated with an agricultural base which has become sophisticated, scientific, capital-oriented, highly productive, and in which approximately 7% of the population participate primarily as a way of making a living."
         The importance of the Ontario Agricultural College as an institution was initially, and continues to be, its faculty particularly those who made responses to scientific data. For this reason, this writer has focused on the key politicians and educators who launched the experiment and those College personnel who insured the success and survival of the original dream - a dream which embodied possibilities for a scientific approach to agriculture. Realizing that neither their College nor their province existed in a vacuum, some faculty saw to it that the Ontario Agricultural College became not only a distributor but a receiver of scientific and technological ideas. By personal contact, such as travel, letter-writing, participation in conferences, the College faculty made it possible for Ontarian agriculture to benefit from American and European innovations. Thus, indigenous experimentation and scientific research coupled with injections of foreign scientific data have contributed to the vitality of the Ontario Agricultural College and in turn to Ontarian agriculture.