Experimental Farm - 1st Article

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Among the first pioneers to settle on the Ridge Road was Richard Tyherst in 1824 on lot 11, 9th. concession Howard Township. The ownership of the farm passed from Richard Tyherst to his son Edward.

In 1874 the farm was purchased by Mr E.D. Mitton, who sold town lots off the south corner of the farm. It is on one of these lots that the present High and Vocational schools are situated.

Mr Mitton retained some of these lots on the corner of Main & Cecil Street and built himself a home before selling the remainder of the farm. Cecil street was named after his son Cecil Mitton. Mr W.H. Goodhue purchased the home and later sold it to Mr B.M. Willson the present owner.

In 1902 Mr John Cochrane purchased the remainder or the farm from Mr Mitton and in 1904 sold it to Mr John W. Simpson. In 1906 Mr Simpson rebuilt the house which has since been remodeled, and it is the home of the present farm Superintendant. In 1910 Mr Simpson sold the farm to Mr J.D. Brien who added 100 acres, which he purchased from Mr J.J. Simpson. In 1922 Mr J.D. Brien sold his farm to the Provincial Government for an Experimental Station, the Government also purchased land from Mr B.M. Willson and at the present time the farm comprises 300 acres, other land is rented to carry on experimental crops.

The conditions and crops in Southwestern Ontario differs from those in other parts of the Province, and the Government decided an Experimental farm would be of great value in this area. Experimental work in crops, fruit, and live stock is carried on, and the farm staff is always ready to advise and obtain accurate information for the farmers.

Mr W.R. Reek who later became Deputy Minister of Agriculture, and then Dr. Reek, President of the Ontario Agricultural College Guelph, he was the first Director of the Experimental farm. In 1937 Professor J.C. Steckley succeeded Mr Reek, under his leadership the farm has become the centre of Agricultural training for the students of the High School as well as the farmer's of the district.

Among the men who have laboured to bring Agricultural education to Ridgetown are Dr.Reek, the late J.D. Brien, Mr W.G. Thompson, who in 1945, when he was Minister of Lands and Forests saw that sufficient funds were set aside by his Government to meet the needs of the new College and on September 2nd. 1949, Mr Thompson was given the honour of turning the first sod for the Dormitories which have been completed and will be formally opened in September 1951.

The building a two story brick will house 180 beds, a dining hall, and Kitchen units.

Classes will be opened in rooms in the Dormitories, for the present as well as Offices for the staffs. The purpose of this new Agricultural College will be to give more advanced training in practical Agriculture to boys beyond High school age.

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Transcribed from the records of Mrs. Geo. S. Brien, Rural Ridgetown Women's Institute.