Access

Ramp at main entrance off Alumni Walk; exterior auto door not functioning

Elevators

Access to all floors

Parking

P44 off Winegard Walk

Washrooms

accessible unisex washroom on first floor

Joseph Benson Reynolds (1867-1948) first came to the Ontario Agricultural College in 1893 after finishing first in his class in physics and mathematics at the University of Toronto. He was responsible for introducing soil analysis in the physics program and involved the department in farm drainage surveys, which ultimately led to much improved crop yields.

Reynolds went on to become the Head of English, as this was his first love. He exposed students to great literature, composition and public speaking. Reynolds established a course in Canadian literature, a first for any school of higher learning in Canada. Finally, Reynolds served as president of OAC from 1920-1928. The Reynolds Building was built in 1915 for the study of Physics and Mathematics.

Joseph Benson Reynolds

Joseph Benson Reynolds 1867-1948

Instructor of Physics and English, Ontario Agricultural College, 1893-1906
Head, Department of English, Ontario Agricultural College, 1906-1915
President, Manitoba Agricultural College, 1915-1920
President, Ontario Agricultural College, 1920-1928

Joseph Reynolds was born on a farm near Bowmanville, Ontario, the youngest of 15 children. He taught school in Durham County, adding janitor’s duties to pay for his studies at the University of Toronto, where he finished first in his class in physics and mathematics in 1893. Reynolds arrived at OAC in 1893 as assistant resident master and instructor of English and physics.

In the late 1890s, he introduced soil analysis in the physics program and began advocating for a provincial soil testing program, which was not launched until 1923. In 1905, Reynolds involved the Physics Department in farm drainage surveys. Hundreds of surveys were conducted, vastly improving crop yields. Reynolds also introduced extensive testing of lightning rods for the protection of farm buildings.

An innovator, he studied the effect of cooling by loading two train cars with fruit and ice in Niagara and sending them on a seven-day trip to Winnipeg. On arrival, the produce was fresher than that from California, he reported. A visionary, Reynolds called for use of the metric system in agriculture in the early 1900s. He said metric use “was just a matter of time,” but it took decades to arrive.

William Day took over these research projects when Reynolds became head of the English Department in 1906. Reynolds’ first love was English. He insisted students be literate, so they were exposed to great literature, composition and public speaking. In 1909, he established a course in Canadian literature, a first for any school of higher learning in Canada.

From 1915 to 1920, Reynolds was president of the Manitoba Agricultural College, returning to Guelph in 1920 as president of OAC. He introduced matriculation requirements for students entering the OAC degree program, which meant first-year degree students went to labs instead of reporting for farm work.

During Reynolds’ presidency, the Ontario Veterinary College was moved to Guelph in 1922 and the 50th anniversary of OAC, including the opening of War Memorial Hall, was celebrated in 1924. He retired to his farm at Port Hope in 1928 with the title President Emeritus.

The Reynolds Building was built in 1915 for the study of physics and mathematics.

This plaque is located outside on the right hand side of the entrance of Reynolds Building.


For more information about the Historical Walking Tour, please contact:

Alumni Affairs & Development
(519) 824-4120 ext. 56934
alumni@uoguelph.ca