Take a moment to go back in time to October 1, 1873, when the Government of Ontario purchased 550 acres of land from F. W. Stone near Guelph, for the purpose of establishing a School of Agriculture. Fast forward to 1964, when the three founding colleges (Ontario Agricultural College, Ontario Veterinary College and Macdonald Institute) were combined to become the University of Guelph and Wellington College, with faculties of arts, social science and physical and biological science was added as the fourth college.
On October 1, 1873, the Ontario government purchased 550 acres of land near Guelph to establish a school of agriculture. The move followed several years of debate over suitable sites for an agricultural school and the role it would play in advancing the province's primary industry. Moreton Lodge Farm at Guelph was chosen after a government-appointed commission recommended that the Ontario School of Agriculture should be near an established agricultural community where practical training would complement classroom instruction to ensure that the school's emphasis remained on agricultural education.
The Ontario School of Agriculture and Experimental Farm opened May 1, 1874, to produce graduates who would elevate farming in Ontario to higher levels of efficiency and prosperity. In 1888, the renamed Ontario Agricultural College and Experimental Farm (OAC) achieved degree-granting status in affiliation with the University of Toronto.
OAC president James Mills and Adelaide Hunter Hoodless, one of the founders of the Women's Institute, shared a common vision for a school of domestic science for young rural women. They garnered private funds from industrialist Sir William Macdonald to establish Macdonald Institute on the OAC campus and build the adjoining Macdonald Hall residence in 1903. Continued success led to a four-year Macdonald Institute degree program in 1948 in affiliation with the University of Toronto.
The Ontario Veterinary College began in Toronto in 1862 as a private institution and became affiliated with the University of Toronto in 1919. It prepared students for careers as veterinarians in an era that relied heavily on horses for transportation. North America's oldest veterinary college was moved to the Guelph campus in 1922.
John D. MacLachlan integrated the Ontario Agricultural College, Ontario Veterinary College and Macdonald Institute into three Federated Colleges with a dean for each college and a Board of Regents in 1962. He served as a president of the Federated Colleges until 1964 when the Ontario government created the University of Guelph. Wellington College, with faculties of arts, social science and physical and biological sciences, was added as the fourth college.
At the first convocation in May 1965, Dr. MacLachlan was installed as the first president of the University of Guelph with George Drew, a native of Guelph and former Premier of Ontario, becoming the first chancellor. Guelph businessman Thomas McEwan was the first chairman of the Board of Governors.