MILTON — Four inductees joined the ranks of Ontario’s Agricultural Hall of Fame at Milton last month. The induction ceremony was scheduled for June 14, but like most ag events in the province, was cancelled due to COVID-19.
The four latest inductees bring the total to 233. Here’s a bit about each of them.
John Davis Curtis (1935-2019)
The longest-serving president of Kemptville College, Curtis was well-liked and affable. He was also well-known for the major role he played in bring many crops to Eastern Ontario in his work with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (as it was known then). Former colleague Terrance Meagher said that Curtis pushed for both research into and introduction of feed corn in Eastern Ontario, which proved to be an ag revolution. He was involved with the development of canola, soybeans and mustard as crops in the region, and played a transformative role in expanding the offerings at Kemtpville College as well.
Dianne Margeret Harkin (1934 -)
A fierce champion of feminism in the farming sector, Harkin founded the Women for the Survival of Agriculture in 1975, which pushed for transformative change for women in the farming sector, including enabling women to claim a salary for their on-farm work from the Canada Pension Plan.
William Brian Little (1946 -)
Little’s work has been instrumental in boosting ag education (and interest in it) in the province. Having served over 20 years with the Ontario Agricultural College’s Alumni Foundation, he played a key role in two major studies in 2012 and 2017, the “Planning for Tomorrow” studies, which highlighted the growing gap between demand for ag-educated people and the supply. Enrollment in OAC programs has grown 50 per cent since the release of those studies.
William Murray Mills (1931 – 2018)
The modern combine is not how they’ve always been. Mills has played a key role in the development and improvement of the combine harvesting. In particular, he helped develop rotary threshing and grain separation with high-speed cutting and stripper heads. He also designed self-propelled combines with better lighting and electronic controls. An archive at the Waterford Heritage and Agriculture Museum bears his name as an homage to his work.