Bill Watson’s public career spanned 43 years as a member of the Ontario Department of Agriculture and eight as general manager of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. While a member of the department, he received many promotions, eventually becoming the Assistant Deputy Minister. As Livestock Commissioner he initiated several policies that had a profound affect upon Canadian agriculture, the most significant ones being those dealing with artificial insemination, dairy herd improvement and performance testing of beef cattle. Although primarily involved in livestock activities, he was interested in all branches of farming. As chairman of the Ontario Beef Pasture Improvement Committee for 10 years, he supervised the operations on five demonstration pasture farms. His addresses on the “agricultural outlook” were a feature of 14 consecutive conventions of the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association.
While general manager of the Royal, Mr. Watson used his influence to effect changes in classifications with a view to focusing greater emphasis on utility. He also succeeded in obtaining wider participation on the part of farm organizations.
Mr. Watson was active in many organizations, being one of the founders and the first president of the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame; the first Canadian to serve as chairman of the board of directors of Performance Registry International; one of the few Canadians to serve on the directorate of The International Dairy Show (Chicago) and a member of the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario. In 1968 he was named a Fellow of the Agricultural Institute of Canada, the highest honour this professional body can bestow upon its members.
Mr. Watson was the first living person to be inducted into the Agricultural Hall of Fame.