Howard Laing Hutt | Ontario Agricultural College

Howard Laing Hutt

First name: Howard Laing

Last Name: Hutt

Hometown: Stamford Township, Ontario

Birth Year: 1867

OAC Grad Year(s): BSA 1891

Date of Death: June 27, 1948

Affiliation: Alumni, Faculty

OAC Pillar: Agriculture, Communities, Food


H.L. Hutt’s passion was horticulture, especially landscape gardening. Hutt returned to OAC from studies at Cornell, and used his knowledge to promote horticultural production and aesthetics in Ontario. He worked at OAC from 1893 to 1914, including time as the head of Horticulture from 1903 to 1908 and head of Landscape Gardening from 1908 to 1914.

“The ability to live in comfort gives rise to the wish to live in better environment, and the easing of the ‘bread and butter’ struggle gives opportunity to realize that there is more than bread worth striving for.” – H.L. Hutt

In addition to lecturing, Hutt was in charge of “outside work”: managing the 23-acre lawn, beds and borders for the beautification of the campus, as well as a 4-acre garden and new greenhouse to supply the College with fruits and vegetables. He estimated that 15 bushels of potatoes per week were needed to feed the “family of boys”. Hutt was inspector of fruit stations, a responsibility that required travel to the Niagara region. As a member of the Fruit Growers’ Association of Ontario, a group concerned with orchard management, he actively promoted reforestation for soil and water conservation.

In 1907, Hutt consolidated the position of scientific horticulture at OAC by adding a specialization in horticulture to the BSA program. He created the Department of Landscape Gardening in 1908. From 1910, his work was focused mainly on flowers and landscape gardening, but when he retired, these subdivisions of horticulture were subordinated to the study of fruits and vegetables.

Hutt’s expertise was recognized by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), who commissioned him to travel through western Canada as an advisor on railway gardens, planted and maintained outside railway stations across the country by CPR employees from the 1890s until about World War II.

He retired to Georgetown in 1914, where he wrote a folksy column called “The Weather” for the weekly newspaper. He conducted Backyard Garden contests for a Toronto real estate company and was active in the Georgetown Horticultural Society.

References and Further Reading

  • Quote reference: “Beautifying School Grounds”, in OAC Review, April 1908, 382-385.
  • Photo credit: “Historical Plaque: Howard Laing Hutt 1867-1948”,
  • H.L. Hutt. Improvement of School Grounds: Plans and Suggestions for the Improvement of Rural and Urban School Grounds (Ontario Department of Education: Toronto, 1908)
  • Arthur Loughton, Richard. V. Chudyk, Judy A. Wanner, eds. Celebrating a Century of Success 1906-2006 (Horticultural Experiment Station, Vineland, University of Guelph, 2006)
  • Edwinna von Baeyer. Rhetoric and Roses: A History of Canadian Gardening 1900-1930 (Markham, Ontario: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1984)

Posted on September 18, 2014