College History | Ontario Agricultural College

College History

Black and white photo of children petting beef cattle being led by instructors

The Ontario School of Agriculture and Experimental Farm opened its doors in May 1874, with academic oversight by the University of Toronto. To open the school the provincial agriculture ministry purchased a 550-acre farm from William Stone in the south end of Guelph. The first class was made up of twenty diploma students. 

In 1880, the name was changed to the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) and Experimental Farm and in 1887 Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree programs began, which were granted through the University of Toronto (U of T). In 1926, U of T began also granting graduate degrees at OAC.

OAC, the Ontario Veterinary College and the Macdonald Institute are the three founding colleges of the University of Guelph, which was established in 1964.

The Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree program began in 1965 and the Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Environmental Science programs began in 1988. 

In 1997, the provincial government amalgamated agriculture education across the province under U of G and OAC. OAC now offers programs and conducts research on two campuses: Guelph and Ridgetown.

In 2006, the Bachelor of Bio-Resource Management began. In 2014, the College celebrated it's 140th anniversary with a special project called "140 Faces of OAC", capturing many of its current and historical figures through an online database of people profiles. View the 140 Faces of OAC project here.

For more information on the history of the college, read The College on the Hill: New History of the Ontario Agricultural College, 1874 to 1999 (Google eBook)

Our Alumni

Leadership, commitment to excellence, and service to the community are core values of OAC alumni. Today, our alumni play leading roles in all sectors of the agri-food industry in Canada and around the world. Their achievements widely recognized, OAC alumni have been well-represented in the University of Guelph Alumni Association's awards program, in agricultural halls of fame and in cabinet positions in the federal and provincial governments.