Memorable Manitobans: Thomas James Harrison (1885-1964)
Born near Graysville on 15 April 1885, he attended Kilmory School then was the first student to enroll in the Manitoba Agricultural College at Winnipeg. After graduation he taught field husbandry there until 1913, when he became Superintendent of the federal experimental farm at Indian Head, Saskatchewan. He came back to the college in 1915 to become professor of field husbandry. His research on crossbreeding and high-yield barley was important for the malting industry. In 1917, he was appointed Secretary to the provincial government’s Demonstration Farm Board. He helped found the Manitoba Agronomists Conference in 1920 and became assistant commissioner for Manitoba with the Board of Grain Commissioners in 1925. He also served as President of the Canadian Seed Growers Association. In 1932 he became Chair of the National Barley Committee and was instrumental in founding the Barley Improvement Institute.
On 4 September 1912, he married Ethel Mary Playfair (1891-1973) at Winnipeg. They had no children. He was a member of the Winnipeg Kiwanis Club and was responsible for a public-speaking contest open to members of boys’ and girls’ clubs of the province. He was elected to the Agricultural Institute of Canada and the Royal Academy. In 1951 the University of Manitoba gave him an honorary doctorate. He is a member of the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame.
Birth and marriage registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
“Farm demonstration board’s secretary,” Winnipeg Tribune, 6 April 1917, page 14.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 6 March 1964, page 29.
Obituary [Ethel Mary Harrison], Winnipeg Free Press, 8 May 1973, page 34.
The Rural Municipality of Dufferin, 1880-1980 compiled and edited by June M. Watson with the assistance of the History Book Committee, RM of Dufferin, 1982, page 163.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 27 March 2017
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