Best known as a founding father of the 4-H movement in Canada, the late E. Ward Jones made tremendous strides and contributions to Canadian agriculture as a farmer, an innovator and a teacher during his short 48 year life.
Ward was born in 1889 in Carmen, Manitoba. He graduated from the Manitoba Agricultural College in 1911 and began his career as a professor at the college for the next five years. It was during this time, in 1913, that he co-founded one of the most influential agricultural clubs in Canada – the Boys and Girls Club. What began in Roland, a small farming community southwest of Winnipeg, became the popular 4-H clubs across Canada we all know today.
As a leader and visionary, Ward took a different approach to education, especially when it came to agriculture. Seeing the limitations of classroom learning, and the opportunities with what were progressive approaches to learning at the time, he used field trips, competitive events and distance education to help deliver practical agricultural education and training.
Far ahead of his time, Ward looked for innovative ways to bring new technologies to farming, and farm and home management practices. Under his vision, a railway car was transformed into a travelling classroom to bring new ideas to 4-H club members around the region.
His drive to continuously improve took him to the Alberta Stockyards Company in Calgary. Under his management from 1919 to 1928, Ward focused on using scientific breeding strategies to raise the standards of animal husbandry and crop production to ultimately improve marketing opportunities for prairie farmers.
From 1928 until the time of his death, Ward was the superintendent of agriculture and animal industry for the CPR Department of Natural Resources, with responsibilities for the CPR supply farm in Alberta and three experimental farms. His innovative approach saw him develop and implement systems to improve yield and quality of crop and animal products. Interestingly, these are production improvements on which the Canadian agricultural system continues to focus tremendous research and education investments, more than 85 years later.
Ward Jones shared his ideas through his involvement in many provincial and national agricultural organizations, crossing all segments of the industry. He was president of the Alberta Cattle Breeders’ Association, the Holstein-Friesian Association of Canada and the Alberta Swine Breeders’ Association.