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Historical Plaque

Portrait of George Creelman

James Mills 1840 - 1924

Principal, Ontario School of Agriculture, 1879 - 1980
President, Ontario Agricultural College and Experimental Farm, 1880 - 1904

James Mills was born near Bond Head, Ontario. He finished his primary education after the loss of his right arm in a farm accident and upon graduating from the University of Victoria College at Cobourg, he taught high school and later became a principal.  Mills was persuaded by A.S. Hardy, the chair of the agriculture school’s board, to take over the direction of the college in 1879.

The Ontario Agricultural College changed in both stature and appearance during the 25 years it was headed by James Mills. He built public confidence in the value of the College by launching the innovative Farmers’ Institutes of Ontario in 1885 as an experiment in adult extension education. The school became affiliated with the University of Toronto in order to conduct a degree program, graduating the first class in 1888.  The much-needed and very successful dairy short course was begun in 1893.  Mills also orchestrated the establishment of Macdonald Institute as Ontario’s first college for women in 1903.

Through persistence, Mills secured government funds to improve the appearance of the campus and personally oversaw the construction of several new farm and academic buildings. Mills won the College’s first private-sector support for the construction of Massey Hall, to house the College library, Macdonald Hall, and Macdonald Institute.

A tireless worker, Mills set high standards of conduct and morality for the young farmers who came to OAC.  Fittingly, the residence that bears his name has long been a vital part of student life on campus.

Mills Hall 1921

Generously donated by Ginty Jocius, B.Sc.(Agr.