Family roots in campus conservatory garden


Donald M. Rutherford, OAC ’51

All four seasons are captured in the named gardens that are part of the D.M. Rutherford Family Conservatory and Gardens marking the U of G entrance.

The gardens and restored 1930s-era greenhouse were dedicated in 1999 during the 125th anniversary of the Ontario Agricultural College. A year earlier, Donald M. Rutherford, OAC ’51, made a leadership gift of $256,000 toward the $1-million project.

Grant Speed, Dip. ’73
Bonnie Douglas, B.Eng. ’02

The surrounding six gardens are named for donors, including an Autumn Garden named for Rutherford’s Class of ’51. The class marked its 70th anniversary in 2021 by raising $51,000 for student awards intended to foster leadership.

Rutherford died in fall 2021 at age 93.

On hand for the dedication ceremony in 1999 were Rutherford’s family members, including his granddaughter Bonnie (Speed) Douglas, then studying biological engineering at U of G.

“He was proud of me for going to Guelph,” says Douglas, B.Eng. ’02, whose studies here extended the family connection.

A generation earlier, her parents met on campus as students. Her father, Grant Speed, completed agricultural diploma studies in 1973; her mom, Jean Curtis, studied science at U of G in 1971 before enrolling in teacher’s college.

Referring to the conservatory and surrounding gardens, Douglas says, “The project was important to Donald and the family because it allowed three generations of alumni to connect and strengthen their Guelph roots.”

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