Ontario Ag College at the U of G celebrates 150 years

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If you feel like you’re seeing Ontario Agricultural College jackets everywhere online and in Ontario today, you’re not imagining it — May 2024 marks 150 years since the opening of the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC), one of the University of Guelph’s three founding colleges.

This month kicks off several planned events to honour the 150th anniversary, including a range of events, projects and activities that reflect its achievements and vision for the future. Events include history tours through campus, Food Day Canada celebrations, and a capstone celebration during Alumni Reunion Weekend in June.

The OAC community, including alumni, have been invited to celebrate, and many are doing so by sporting their OAC jackets and sharing photos online with the hashtag #OAC150.

“The entire University of Guelph community is thrilled to celebrate this significant milestone in our history,” says Dr. Charlotte Yates, U of G president and vice-chancellor. “OAC has a proud and rich legacy of developing leaders and cultivating innovation in the global agri-food sector.”

The first graduating class had 28 diploma students, who learned at the 550-acre farm purchased by the province. OAC has since grown to over 3,300 students across two campuses, based at Guelph and Ridgetown, and now leverages the network of research centres owned by the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario (ARIO) that span the province.

Originally named the Ontario School of Agriculture and Experimental Farm, OAC changed its name in 1880 to better reflect “its purpose and ambitions.” In 1874, it was one of the first schools in Canada to integrate scientific research into farming practices, helping to modernize agriculture across the country.

This commitment continues today as the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance, the collaboration between the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and U of G.

The OAC has contributed to several agricultural innovations, discoveries, and advancements including Yukon Gold potatoes, Guelph Millennium Asparagus and Omega-3 Eggs. It’s also home of the Canadian Research Institute for Food Safety, Soils at Guelph, the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility (CESRF) and Regional and Rural Broadband (R2B2).

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