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Historical Plaque

Walter Massey 1864 – 1901
President, Massey-Harris

The seeds for Massey Hall were sown at a chance meeting on a Toronto streetcar between OAC President James Mills and Walter Massey, president of the farm implement company Massey-Harris. Mills used the opportunity to seek funds for a number of buildings required for the growth of OAC, since no funding was available from the provincial government. Coincidently, Massey sat beside Mills on another streetcar three months later and announced his family’s intention to provide funds to the school. The Massey family believed scientific investigation and literature deserved a permanent home, so they chose to build a library.

The Massey gift was the first private money ever donated to the OAC and is considered the first sizeable amount given unconditionally in the Dominion of Canada. Walter Massey died of typhoid fever three months after laying the library’s cornerstone on August 14, 1901.

Massey Library had a capacity for 75,000 books. It incorporated many architectural styles and featured towers, Flemish facades, arches, stained glass windows and pillars. A coat of arms depicted in the stained glass window on the staircase was designed by F. C. Harrison, an 1892 OAC graduate and founder of the school’s bacteriology department.

He also designed the OAC crest that was registered with the Ontario Department of Agriculture in 1903.