Charles A. Zavitz was a member of the first class to graduate from the Ontario Agricultural College with the degree of Bachelor of Science of Agriculture (1888). During the next 41 years, while serving on the staff of the Field Husbandry department of his Alma Mater, he displayed remarkable qualities of leadership in the fields of research, teaching and extension.
Being an avid researcher, he attempted to develop many new varieties of field crops but steadfastly refused to release any until proven by careful testing to be suitable to Canadian conditions. Undoubtedly, his most widely-acclaimed new variety was OAC No. 21 Barley, one that has stood the test of time.
Professor Zavitz was one of the founders of the Canadian Seed Growers’ Association and a strong supporter of the Ontario Agricultural and Experimental Union. He used the members of the latter organization quite extensively to obtain wider distribution of varieties that had proven superior as a result of tests conducted under his supervision, and in so doing, added millions of dollars annually to the value of Ontario’s field crops.
Although primarily recognized for his work with cereals, Prof. Zavitz made valuable contributions to the improvement of other field crops, notably alfalfa, potatoes and soybeans.
In appreciation of his achievements, the University of Toronto conferred the degree of Doctor of Science on him in 1916. In 1935, following his retirement, he was the recipient of an Honourary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Western Ontario as a tribute to his status as a distinguished son of that area of the province.