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Historical Plaque

Portrait of William Johnston

William Richard Graham 1875-1958

Head, Department of Poultry, Ontario Agricultural College, 1899–1940

William Graham was born on a farm near Belleville, Ontario, in 1875. He returned to the family farm after receiving a BSA degree from the Ontario Agricultural College in 1894. He was appointed lecturer and head of the Department of Poultry at his alma mater in 1899, and held that position for 41 years.

Graham’s basic scientific thinking inspired the development of the modern poultry industry. Among his numerous accomplishments, he pioneered progeny test breeding for egg production, developed an OAC strain of Barred Plymouth Rock chickens and a record-of-performance in poultry incubation, improved ventilation in incubators and poultry houses, and encouraged the adoption of national grades for eggs. Graham’s research in nutrition created a formulated porridge for chicks that was used in the development of Pablum at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. 

As well as being a brilliant researcher, Graham was able to inspire others and teach them to understand scientific methods and procedures. Under his leadership, the quality of scholarship in the Poultry Department increased significantly, farmers adopted new technologies, and many of his students went on to make major contributions in a variety of fields.

Graham’s vision helped to establish the Poultry Science Association, the World Poultry Science Association, the Ontario Hatchery Supply Flock Policy, the Canadian Produce Association and the Ontario Poultry Council.

He was named a fellow of the Agricultural Institute of Canada in 1929 and the Poultry Association in 1933. Other honours included an honorary degree from the University of Toronto in 1938, induction into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1975, and being named Canada’s Poultryman of the Century by the Ontario Poultry Council.

Known affectionately as the “Prof,” Graham’s legacy is reflected best by the plaque on the building that bears his name. It says simply “he taught men to think.”


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