Tagged: farm

Better know a Canadian functionary: more officers of the Central Experimental Farm and the Department of Agriculture Science Service

This is a continuation of an earlier post I made on this subject, which you can find here.

In 1886 Parliament authorized the Department of Agriculture to establish a nationwide system of experimental farms to work on ways to improve all aspects of agricultural production in Canada. The main farm was the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa, which still exists today as a National Historic Site even though the city has long since grown up around the farm and the land must be worth a fortune by now.

The original head of all projects conducted by the Experimental Farms Service was the Dominion Agriculturist, a post originally filled by the Farm’s director, the agricultural chemist William Saunders. The Dominion Agriculturalist was soon after joined by the Dominion Botanist, moved under the Farm’s command from elsewhere in the Department of Agriculture in 1887; the Dominion Chemist, created in 1887; the Dominion Poultry Husbandman, created in 1888; the Dominion Cerealist, created by William Saunders in 1910 for his son Charles; and the Dominion Horticulturalist, which was split off of the Dominion Botanist in 1910.

In 1912, the office of the Dominion Agriculturalist was split into two jobs: the Dominion Animal Husbandman, who handled the raising of animals, and the Dominion Field Husbandman, who handled not only vegetable crops, but also the physical aspects of farms, such as drainage and soil engineering. (“Husbandman” is an archaic word for a farmer, from a lesser-used verb form of “husband” meaning “to manage”.) In that same year, the Dominion Agrostologist was split from the Dominion Botanist to study grasses and other forage crops. The Experimental Farms Service set up a Tobacco Division in 1913, then established the Dominion Apiarist to study bees in 1914. The Farms Service ran its own Extension & Publicity department from 1914 until it was merged into the Department of Agriculture’s publications service in 1935. (“Extension” is the process of educating farmers on technological and scientific advancements.) In 1915, the Farm started an Illustration Stations Service, where ordinary farmers could let the government take over a bit of their land and use the latest crops and techniques in order to show off how much better they were to the surrounding community. Another major new department of the Experimental Farms Service came in 1917, with the Economic Fibre Production Division, concerning the growth of plants used in textile production, such as flax. Finally, the Farm set up a Bacteriology division in 1923 to investigate various diseases and fermentations.

In 1937, the Department of Agriculture expanded its Entomology Branch (founded in 1914) and founded the Science Service for its more laboratory-oriented research interests, moving the Chemistry, Botany and Bacteriology divisions from the Experimental Farms Service and merging the latter with the office of the Dairy and Cold Storage Commissioner to form the Bacteriology & Dairy Research Division. The Science Service was then run separately from the Experimental Farms Service, although the Science Service headquarters was moved to the Central Experimental Farm in 1947.

In the Experimental Farms Service, the Economic Fibre Production division was merged into the Field Husbandry division in 1952, and the Poultry Husbandry division was merged into the Animal Husbandry division in 1957. Finally, in 1959 both the Experimental Farms Service and the Science Service were dissolved and reformed as the Research Division of the Department of Agriculture.

The Directors of the Experimental Farms were:
William Saunders, 1886-1911.
J.H. Grisdale, 1911-19.
Edgar Spinney Archibald, 1919-50.
E.S. Hopkins, 1950-55.
Cyril Harold Goulden, 1955-59.

The Dominion Agriculturalists were:
William Saunders, 1886-90.
James W. Robertson, 1890-96.
William Saunders (acting), 1897-98
J.H. Grisdale, 1899-1912.

The Dominion Poultry Husbandmen were:
A.G. Gilbert, 1888-1913.
F.C. Elford, 1913-37.
G. Robertson, 1937-46.
H.S. Gutteridge, 1946-57.

The Dominion Animal Husbandmen were:
Edgar Spinney Archibald, 1912-20.
George B. Rothwell, 1920-31.
G.W. Muir, 1931-51.
H.K.C.A. Rasmussen, 1951-59.

The Dominion Field Husbandmen were:
J.H. Grisdale, 1912-19.
Edgar Spinney Archibald, 1919-20.
E.S. Hopkins, 1920-46.
P.O. Ripley, 1946-59.

The Chiefs of the Tobacco Division were:
Felix Charlan, 1913-24.
C.M. Slagg, 1924-28.
N.T. Nelson, 1928-46.
Norman MacRae, 1946-59.

The Chiefs of Extension & Publicity for the Experimental Farms Service were:
J.F. Watson, 1914-17.
W.A. Lang, 1917-21.
F.C. Nunnick, 1921-35.

The Supervisors of the Illustration Stations Division were:
John Fixter, 1915-27.
J.C. Moynan, 1928-53.
A.E. Barrett, 1953-59.

The Chiefs of Economic Fibre Production were:
G.G. Bramhill, 1917-18.
R.J. Hutchinson, 1918-52.

The Directors of the Department of Agriculture Science Service were:
J.M. Swaine, 1937-46.
K.W. Neatby, 1946-58.
Robert Glen, 1958-59.

The only Dominion Agricultural Bacteriologist was Allan Grant Lochhead, 1923-37.

The Chiefs of the Bacteriology & Dairy Research Division (Bacteriology Division after 1953) were:
Allan Grant Lochhead, 1937-56.
H. Katznelson, 1956-59.


Better know a Canadian functionary: officers of the Central Experimental Farm

Between its founding in 1886 and its reorganization in 1959, one of the major subdivisions of the federal Department of Agriculture was the Central Experimental Farm, which controlled the lion’s share of government scientific research before the establishment of the National Research Council, and for quite some time afterward as well.

Titles of chiefs of the specialist divisions in the Central Experimental Farm usually stuck to the form of “the Dominion Thing-the-guy-does”. We’ve already covered some of them: the Dominion Cerealist, the Dominion Dairy Commissioner, the Veterinary Director-General.

One of the oldest of these posts was that of the Dominion Botanist, created when John Macoun was appointed to the post as the Department’s plant expert in 1882. Macoun was replaced by James Fletcher, who was also made Dominion Entomologist. By 1952 it was renamed the Chief of Botany and Plant Pathology Division.

The Dominion Botanists were:

John Macoun, 1882-87.
James Fletcher, 1887-1908.
Hans Theo Gussow, 1908-45.
John Hubert Craigie, 1945-52.
W.F. Hanna, 1952-58.

After James Fletcher’s death in 1908, the office of Dominion Entomologist, an expert in insects, was separated from the Dominion Botanist. The Dominion Entomologist was renamed Chief of Entomological Division in 1950.

The Dominion Entomologists were:

James Fletcher, 1887-1908.
Charles Gordon Hewitt, 1909-20.
Arthur Gibson, 1920-24.
Henry Gordon Macgregor Crawford, 1924-50.
Robert Glen, 1950-57.
Beverly Northcott Smallman, 1957-59.

One of the major divisional chiefs had been the Dominion Chemist, the head of all the chemical research laboratories.

The Dominion Chemists were:

Frank Thomas Schutt CBE, 1887-1933.
Clifford H. Robinson, 1933-49.
James C. Woodward, 1949-55.
A.R.G. Emslie, 1955-59.

The office of Dominion Horticulturalist was split from the Dominion Botanist in 1910. Its specialty was in flowers, shrubs and other decorative plants.

The Dominion Horticulturalists were:

William Tyrrell Macoun, 1910-33.
Malcolm Bancroft Davis, 1933-55.
Hinson Hill, 1955-59.

The office of Dominion Agrostologist, also known as Chief of the Forage Division, was split from the Dominion Botanist in 1912. Its job was similar to that of the Dominion Cerealist, except that the Agrostologist focused more on legumes and grasses grown for feeding livestock. The Dominion Agrostologist was changed to the Head of Grass, Legume and Pasture Research Unit in 1957.

The Dominion Agrostologists were:

Malte Oscar Malte, 1912-21.
G.P. McRostie, 1922-30.
Lawrence Eldred Kirk OC, 1931-38.
Trueman M. Stevenson, 1938-57.
J.E. Ross Greenshields, 1957-59.

The Dominion Apiarist (also sometimes referred to as the Dominion Apiculturalist) was split from the Dominion Entomologist in 1914. The Dominion Apiarist studied bees, both for improving honey production and to improve methods of pollination.

The Dominion Apiarists were:

Frederick William Lambert Sladen, 1914-21.
Charles B. Gooderham, 1921-49.
C.A. Jamieson, 1949-58.

Better know a Canadian functionary: the Dominion Cerealist

Sir Charles Edward Saunders FRSC PhD, 1867-1937.

Sir Charles Edward Saunders FRSC PhD, 1867-1937.

Every schoolchild in Canada, in theory, learns about Sir Charles Saunders. At least, every history textbook mentions him; in practical terms, he’s usually given two minutes of mention, sandwiched between Ukrainian immigration to the Prairies and the Second Boer War. Which is a shame, because Saunders was a fairly interesting fellow, in addition to being one of the key figures in the settlement of the West.

Charles Edward Saunders was born in London, Ont., the son of the agricultural chemist William Saunders. He took Charles to the countryside as a boy to hybridize wild grapes and berries. Following in his father’s footsteps, he earned a bachelor’s in chemistry from the University of Toronto, then a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins before spending a year teaching chemistry at Central University in Richmond, Ky. (now Eastern Kentucky University). But Charles didn’t really want to be a chemist. He loved music. Dr. Saunders left Central U to take singing lessons and study the flute with teachers from the New York Philharmonic and the New England Conservatory of Music. He returned to Toronto to write a music column in a magazine and open a studio to give concerts and recitals and offer flute and singing lessons, to limited success.

Eventually his father had enough and summoned Charles to Ottawa for a job. William Saunders had been placed in charge of – in fact, had more or less established –  the Department of Agriculture’s Central Experimental Farm, a large farm on what was then the outskirts of the city where government researchers would work to improve the produce of the nation’s farms. (The city eventually grew around the farm, yet in spite of the efforts of developers and cost-cutters in the government, the Central Experimental Farm is still existent, productive, and protected as a National Historic Site. It is the largest urban farm in the world.) In 1903 William made Charles an Experimentalist, charged with improving on various plant strains with his elder brother, Percy Saunders.

Charles soon discovered that by chewing raw wheat kernels and studying the resulting gum, he could get a reasonable idea of its gluten content, and therefore the size of the loves of bread it would make, leading to his appointment as Cerealist in 1905. By 1906, Charles had crossed Red Fife, the commonest strain grown in Ontario, with Hard Red Calcutta, an Indian wheat that ripened quickly but had a low yield, to make a new variety he named Marquis wheat.  In a 1907 trial of the wheat at Indian Head, Sask., Marquis wheat matured almost 2 weeks faster than Red Fife without losing its superior baking qualities, and yielded an incredible (for the time) 41.6 bushels per acre. Charles was given the fancy new title of Dominion Cerealist in 1910 and won a $1000 prize in solid gold from CP Rail the next year. Marquis wheat fed Allied troops in World War I; by 1918 90% of Prairie wheat was Marquis wheat. Over the later years of his career Charles improved on strains of oats and barley, and created several improvements on Marquis wheat – Ruby, Garnet, and Reward – which were more suited to the prairie climate and more resistant to wheat fungus. His achievements in science led to his election as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1921.

Charles Saunders had a physical breakdown and quit the Farm in 1922 to move to Paris and learn French at the Sorbonne, a language he had taken an interest in while mixing with the intelligentsia in Ottawa. While he was there he was awarded the Medaille de l’Académie française for his life’s work. He returned to Canada in 1925, and was immediately awarded the Flavelle Medal for Science. Charles wrote a book of essays and verse in French in 1928 that was critically acclaimed in Quebec, and was knighted in 1933 for his contributions to Imperial agriculture. He became very weak and frail in his old age and spent much of his time at home listening to phonograph records. He died in the summer of 1937, aged 70.

Tough act to follow, right?

Saunders was replaced as Dominion Cerealist by a local boy, Dr. Leonard Harold Newman, in 1923. The grandson of an officer who had served under Colonel By when he built the Rideau Canal, Newman was born at Merrickville, a pleasant little village on the banks of the Rideau. He went abroad to Sweden to study genetics, then served from 1905 to 1923 as the secretary of the government-sponsored Canadian Seed Growers’ Association, an organization encouraging farmers to try their hand at breeding new strains. Dr. Newman could identify almost any strain of wheat by sight and toured county fairs across the country in the fall, explaining government agricultural policies and daring farmers to stump him with their wheat. Dr. Newman retired in 1948 and became something of a local historian in the stretch of the Rideau Canal between Manotick and Westport.

The next Dominion Cerealist was Dr. Cyril Harold Goulden. Born in Wales, his family came to Saskatchewan in the great immigration rush of the Laurier era. He took courses in agriculture for farmers at the University of Saskatchewan that eventually led to earning a Ph.D. in plant breeding, a professorship at the University of Manitoba, and Chief Cereal Breeder at the Dominion Rust Research Laboratory in Winnipeg. A pioneering expert in the union of agriculture and statistics, Dr. Goulden wrote the first textbook on biometrics (which he called biostatistics) in North America in 1937. Dr. Goulden left the post of Dominion Cerealist in 1955 to become assistant deputy minister for research in the Department of Agriculture.

The last Dominion Cerealist was Dr. D.G. Hamilton, serving from 1955 until the post was abolished in 1959 when the offices of the Central Experimental Farm were almost totally redistributed into the Department of Agriculture. Hamilton was born in Fredericton and studied at Macdonald College in Ste.-Anne-de-Bellevue (now a campus of McGill) and UWisconsin. He joined the Cereal division of the Farm in 1938, left to serve in the Royal Canadian Artillery during World War II, and returned to develop new strains of oats and barley. After 1959, Dr. Hamilton served as cereals expert to the new Director of Research, Department of Agriculture, until he retired in 1977.