Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
June 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Agricultural education in Canada


[This article was published in 1948; for the precise citation, see the end of the document.]

Education, Agricultural. Attempts to improve the methods of agriculture began very early in British Canada. Agricultural societies, devoted to agricultural improvement, were founded in both Upper and Lower Canada before 1800; and a system of apprenticeship in farming was practised in Upper Canada before that date. As early as 1826 instruction in agriculture was given to the Indians in the Methodist mission schools in Upper Canada. In 1847 the subject was introduced into the schools of Upper Canada ; and in 1851 a chair in agriculture was established in the University of Toronto, though later this was discontinued. The subject has continued to play a part in the curricula of schools and universities from that date to the present; but the first agricultural college, properly so called, was opened at Ste. Anne de la Pocatière, on the south shore of the St. Lawrence, in 1859. This school still flourishes, and has been the means of training a large number of French-Canadian farmers. In 1867 a similar school was opened at L'Assomption, near Montreal ; but this school closed its doors in 1899 and gave way to the Oka Agricultural Institute, on the lake of Two Mountains, which began in 1890. The first school, however, which succeeded in bringing the farmer into intimate contact with it was the Ontario Agricultural College, founded in 1874 by the Ontario government. For a number of years, the progress of this college was slow; then, by extension work on the part of the college, and by farmers' excursions to the college, the confidence of the farmers was won, and the college began to reach the people.


The success of the Ontario Agricultural College encouraged the establishment of agricultural colleges elsewhere. In 1907, the Macdonald College at Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, was founded by Sir William Macdonald and affiliated with McGill University. It included not only a school of agriculture, but also schools for household science and pedagogy. The Manitoba Agricultural College began its work in 1906, the College of Agriculture in the University of Saskatchewan in 1910, the College of Agriculture in Alberta in 1912, and the British Columbia College in 1915.


The work of the agricultural colleges had a reflex influence on the schools. In the early years of the twentieth century, the nature study and school garden movement contributed toward the introduction of agriculture in the public schools and some of the secondary schools. In 1911 a royal commission reported in favour of greater emphasis on agriculture in the schools; and between 1913 and 1923 the Dominion government contributed $10,000,000 toward agricultural education in the provinces.


The chief institutions in Canada at present for agricultural education and research are (1) the provincial College of Agriculture, at Truro, Nova Scotia; (2) Macdonald College, at Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec; (3) the School of Agriculture, at Ste. Anne de la Pocatière, Quebec; (4) the Oka Agricultural Institute, affiliated with the University of Montreal, and situated on the lake of Two Mountains, near Montreal, Quebec; (5) the Ontario Agricultural College, at Guelph, Ontario; (6) the Kemptville Agricultural School, at Kemptville, in eastern Ontario; (7) the Manitoba Agricultural College, at Winnipeg, Manitoba; (8) the College of Agriculture in the University of Saskatchewan, at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; (9) the College of Agriculture in the University of Alberta, situated in Edmonton South; and (10) the agricultural courses in the University of British Columbia, at Vancouver.


Consult W. Lochead, Agricultural colleges and agricultural development in Canada (United Empire, 1924), A. J. Madill, History of agricultural education in Ontario (Toronto, 1930), and The Canada Year Book (Ottawa, 1930).

Source  : W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. IV, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 411p., pp. 263-264.

© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College