Four new names added to the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame

Inductees recognized for their life-long legacies in Ontario agriculture

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The Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame will induct four new members in June, from across the agriculture sector.

John Davis Curtis, Diane Margaret Harkin, (William) Brian Little, and (William) Murray Mills were selected by the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame Association based on their life-long legacies within Ontario agriculture.

Inductees must demonstrate visionary leadership, innovation, and entrepreneurship within Ontario agriculture to be qualified.

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“At the December meeting, our Board of Directors spent significant time discussing the merits of each applicant,” said John Core, president of the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame Association. “The four inductees for the coming year were chosen from many worthy candidates, each of whom had made significant impacts to Ontario agriculture. While all were worthy of their nominations, these four were considered the most advanced in terms of their lasting contributions to this industry.”

John Davis Curtis

John Davis Curtis’ contributions to agriculture were within the areas of education, research and marketing.

His most significant contribution was his work in establishing corn as a major field crop in Eastern Ontario. As well, he has led the way in testing early maturing corn hybrids and early soybeans.

Curtis was principal of the Kemptville College of Agriculture Technology, helping to develop the college as a major agriculture and food centre which educated thousands of graduates.

He was also a founding director of SeCan, Canada’s largest supplier of certified seed.

John Curtis, who passed away last year, was nominated by inductee Kevin Knox.

Dianne Harkin

Dianne Harkin’s contributions to provincial and Canadian agriculture cover three areas: the official recognition of the contributions of women to Ontario agriculture, the systemic acknowledgement of the importance of sustainable agricultural systems and the role of agriculture extension in the promotion of sustainability, along with the growing awareness by governments and consumers to the importance of Ontario’s agriculture and food sector.

Harkin established the “Women for the Survival of Agriculture” organization in 1975. It saw the amending of the Canadian Income Tax Act and the Canada Pension Plan to enable farm women to claim a salary for their on-farm work.

As well through the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Harkin led the organizing of the first National AgriFood Week (becoming Ontario Agriculture Week in 1998).

She is also well-known for being a media commentator on agriculture issues.

Harking was nominated by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.

Brian Little

Brian Little’s commitment to serving agriculture is found within the promotion of agricultural education, agricultural finance and significant fundraising for the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC), University of Guelph, and 4-H, among many other agricultural organizations.

Little served on the OAC Alumni Foundation for more than 20 years. He had a key role during the 2012 and 2017 “Planning for Tomorrow” studies documenting the gap between the supply and demand of agriculture graduates.

Since these studies were instigated, enrolment within the OAC programs has grown by 50 per cent.

Little has also served on the RBC’s agriculture division for 33 years and has held leadership roles in the Canadian 4-H Council, Canadian 4-H Foundation and Ontario 4-H Foundation.

Little was nominated by inductee Bruce Christie.

Murray Mills

Murray Mills’ legacy within agriculture lies within the ongoing development of harvester combines.

When farmers were managing ever-increasing acreages of corn, soybeans and grains, Mills helped to develop the rotary threshing and grain separation design within high speed cutting systems and stripper heads.

It enabled growers to combine larger acreage more efficiently, and with less grain loss.

Mills also designed self-propelled combines and completely re-designed operator cabs with electronic controls, better lighting and improved operator safety.

With Mills’ mechanical knowledge and ability, he has left a legacy as the field crop sector could not have improved and expanded.

Mills was nominated by Art Bolton.

The four inductees will be recognized at the Hall of Fame’s annual induction ceremony on June 14 at Country Heritage Park in Milton, bringing the number of inductees in the gallery to 233.

Details on how to purchase tickets are available on the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame’s website.

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