Skip to content

Guelph-based Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame profiles province's agricultural leaders

'It gives us a lot of opportunity to get in front of people and profile the hall of fame, as well as the inductees'

A lot of people play a role in Ontario agriculture, but only a few are inducted into the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame Gallery, located in Guelph.

The gallery is part of the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame Association. On its website, the OAFHA said its role is to acknowledge, record and preserve the contributions made by leaders to the growth and development of Ontario's agriculture and agri-food industry.

Susan Fitzgerald, secretary and treasurer of the OAHF, said individuals nominated for the OAHF had to have some sort of lasting legacy in agriculture.

"Some of the citations of these individuals, they have had a far reach in agriculture, not just even in Ontario, but sometimes in Canadian agriculture and internationally as well," said Fitzgerald.

Opened in Milton in June of 1980 with nine inductees, there have been a total of 240 inductees to date. From Wellington County, 10 inductees have been honoured.

Deborah Whale, one Wellington County inductee, was nominated for the class of 2016 by the Poultry Industry Council. In a citation from the OAHF, Whale, the former founding director of the Ontario Livestock and Poultry Council, was chosen for her work in animal health sector pertaining to disease control, prevention and emergency preparedness.

In 2010, Whale also spoke at the One World One Health Conference in Beijing, China on livestock health extension services and has held numerous farm tours with residents, politicians and foreign ministers to highlight Ontario agriculture.

"When you read the citations, sort of the background of the individuals, it's quite interesting," said Fitzgerald.

Recently, the OAHF gallery moved from the top floor of the Ontario AgriCentre to the first floor of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) building at 1 Stone Rd. W. 

Having been located in the Ontario AgriCentre since 2016, Fitzgerald said the move across the road benefits the gallery, as there is increased foot traffic. The site is also more accessible for all residents.

“It made sense, if we could find space, to keep it there,” said Fitzgerald about the OAHF in this area of Guelph. "Under normal conditions, there are a lot of agricultural meetings held in that building, and just even the staff traffic and people coming into that building, it gives us a lot of opportunity to get in front of people and profile the hall of fame, as well as the inductees."

There are currently 11 inductees from the class of 2020 and 2021 on display at the new location. Fitzgerald explains nominations for inductees for the class of 2022 closed Oct. 31 and the nominees will be announced in February. An induction ceremony for the next class of inductees is set for June 12, 2022. 

"So there will be 16 inductees on display then," she said.

When the new class of inductees is introduced, Fitzgerald explains they will be retiring the oldest class of 2020 from the wall. However, when those pictures are removed, she said the sketches and the citations go into the university archives.

"So even though they're no longer on public display, they're still being maintained."

To learn more about the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame, and see previous inductees, go to