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Campus History

Ridgetown campus has enjoyed a proud history of over 80 years in research and over 50 years providing quality education programs.

The history of Ridgetown Campus begins in 1922 when the Western Ontario Experimental Farm was established on land purchased by the Ontario government. This farm was operated under the Ontario Department of Agriculture as a research facility for variety testing, production trials, and fertility studies of corn, beans, sugar beets and tobacco. Potato and horticulture crops, as well as chemical control of insects and plant diseases, were added a few years later.

In 1936, a two year course in agriculture was initiated to teach practical agricultural practices; classes were scheduled so as not to interfere with the farm season. Fourteen students graduated in the spring of 1938. The program was terminated after two years because of a lack of student living facilities. Research continued to be a priority at Ridgetown and the first "Farmers Week"" (to educate farmers on better farming practices) was held in 1939.

In the late 1940's, the idea of a residential school for a two-year diploma course in agriculture was revived by J.C. Steckley, Director of the Experimental Farm. The Department of Agriculture agreed to the construction of a residence building, named Steckley Hall. More land was purchased to add to the experimental farm.

The first students enrolled at the Western Ontario Agricultural School (WOAS) in 1951; they graduated in 1953. These students paid course fees of $179 and an extra $140 for room and board in the college dormitory for the 20-week school year.

The Western Ontario Agricultural School and Experimental Farm was renamed Ridgetown College of Agriculture and Technology in 1968. This was the same year that women were allowed to enrol. An increase in students led to the construction of the Livestock Pavilion in 1960 and the Agronomy Building in 1961. Willson Hall (the cafeteria) opened in 1968. A gymnasium was added to the administration building, which was re-named the Reek Building, in honour of W.R. Reek, the first director of the experimental farm.

In 1997, Ridgetown College became a regional campus of the University of Guelph. Research and education programs continue to expand at Ridgetown Campus.

Academic programs expanded to include a certificate in Performance Horse Handler. In 2006, the campus opened the Rudy H. Brown Rural Development Centre, a project of the Ridgetown Agri-Food Foundation.

We offer four diploma and two certificate programs. There are 120 full-time faculty and staff, plus contract teachers, serving the needs of 650 full-time students.

Our applied research projects provide practical results that are appreciated by farmers and respected by professionals around the world.

Page reviewed 06/09/2015