Top Crop Manager

Features ag150 Past
Celebrating 150 years of Canadian Agriculture

January 15, 2020  By Top Crop Manager

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2017 as part of our Ag150 project, a week dedicated to highlighting past, present and future innovations and accomplishments in Canadian agriculture. 


The newly established Department of Agriculture grants each province jurisdiction over farming concerns. It also allows the Dominion Government to make law in regard to agriculture.

The Dominion Land Act offers agricultural pioneers an opportunity to “prove up” a quarter section of land (160 acres/65 hectares) in western Canada for a $10 filing fee if certain conditions are met.


The Central Experimental Farm is established near Ottawa as the main research station for the federal Department of Agriculture. Early studies focus on entomology, botany and horticulture.

The British Columbia Fruit-Growers’ Association is established to foster an export market.

Half of “gainfully occupied males” work in agriculture.

Farmers start using the Oliver Chilled Plow, which could cut through prairie sod.

The world’s first agricultural motor competition is held in B.C.

The first International Plowing Match is held at Sunnybrook farm near Toronto. The event features as entries 31 single-furrow horse-drawn plows with no classes dedicated to tractors.

Canada’s first Boys’ and Girls’ Club, the predecessor to 4-H, is established in Ontario. The vision is to educate children in order to foster an understanding and love of agriculture, which they would then share with their communities.

The federal government buys 1,000 Ford tractors to sell to farmers.

International Harvester Company is the first to offer direct power take-off (PTO), installing it on its 15-30 tractor. In 1945, Cockshutt Farm Equipment Ltd. of Brantford, Ont., is the first to introduce live PTO.

Almost every Canadian farmer is now a horseman with the horse population standing at 3.5 million. That figure would drastically decline in coming years with the rise of mechanized farming.

The first annual Royal Agricultural Winter Fair is held in Toronto as a tribute to Canadian agriculture. Still held annually at the Canadian National Exhibition grounds, it is considered one of the world’s premier indoor agricultural, horticultural and equestrian fairs.

The first combine harvesters arrive in western Canada. They combined the tasks of cutting, threshing and separating grain from chaff.

Early 1930s
The first tractors with rubber tires are available.

The Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration is established to provide federal financial assistance in response to the global economic crisis. In 1935 the federal government also introduced the Canadian Wheat Board in an attempt to stabilize the market.

The number of Canadian farms peaks at 732,832, with an average farm size of 96-hectares. The number of farms has fallen drastically since then, while the average farm size has more than tripled.

Peter Pakosh files a patent for the grain auger in Toronto. His grain mover employed a screw-type auger with a minimum of moving parts, a totally new application for this specific use.

Fred Beeson, editor of Canada Poultryman magazine, is the first to propose supply management in the Canadian poultry industry. He thought the system would help the country’s egg industry after England cut back its foreign egg purchases following World War II.

Farm Credit Corporation (now Farm Credit Canada) is established under the Farm Credit Act to provide loans to farmers.

Chicken quota is introduced in B.C. Other provinces eventually follow suit.

A national supply management system is implemented for dairy, the first sector in Canada to adopt such legislation.

Quebec’s Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA) is formed with the adoption of the Farm Producers Act, making it the united voice for all farmers in the province.

University of Manitoba researcher Elmer Stobbe convinces Jim McCutcheon to try zero-till seeding – seeding directly into the residue of his previous crop. By 1990, the practice overtakes conventional seeding as the predominant cropping practice in most regions of Canada.

The hatching eggs sector adopts supply management, the last of the four poultry sectors to do so.

As part of the Agreement on Agriculture international treaty of the World Trade Organization, Canada and other member nations commit to reducing distortions in agricultural trade through a number of steps.

Canada eliminates the longstanding policy of the Crow Rate, which had subsidized the costs of rail shipment of grain to export points, and other transport subsidies.

North America’s first dairy milk robot is installed at a barn in Woodstock, Ont.

An outbreak of BSE (or mad cow disease) in 2003 costs Canada’s cattle industry billions of dollars in lost exports as countries around the world close their borders to Canadian beef.

In B.C., an outbreak of a highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza leads to the culling of 17 million birds.

Quebec implements a quota system for its maple syrup production to adjust the supply based on global demand.

The federal government removes control of wheat exports from the Canadian Wheat Board.

UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) gain in popularity.

Driverless tractors roll out for commercialization at farm shows. The vehicles rely on remote controls, sensors and autonomy.

The National Farm Animal Care Council releases a new code of practice calling on egg producers to phase out the use of conventional cages for laying hens. Farmers have 15 years to convert to either enriched cages or cage-free housing.


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