Dr. John Archibald Ruddick

Dr. John Archibald Ruddick

JUNE 6, 1862 - MARCH 4, 1953

Dr. John Archibald Ruddick witnessed the growth of Canada’s dairy industry over a life nearly a century long, being involved in many of the developments along the way. Dr. Ruddick was born on a farm just outside In Ingersoll, Ontario. In 1866 Jonathon Jervis built the Maple Leaf Cheese Factory on the corner of the Ruddicks’ farm. Dr. Ruddick would take up occasional work throughout his youth at the factory, grafting him to the industry he would devote his life to.

In 1880 Dr. Ruddick moved to Vittoria, Norfolk County, Ontario where he took up his first full-time job at a cheese factory. In the Spring of 1882 Ruddick moved on to Lancaster, Ontario quickly advancing to become the superintendent of the “Allengrove Combination” then a group of 34 cheese factories. Dr. Ruddick worked tirelessly to expand the company’s, and by extension Ontario’s, dairy industry. In one spring, he built and opened 17 factories doing all the steam fitting to effective and sustainable standards with his own hands. Through his work, Dr. Ruddick contributed to the rise of the dairy industry in a time before education or government programs had come into effect.

In 1889 Dr. Ruddick became the instructor for the Dairymen’s Association of Eastern Ontario. In 1891 Dr. Ruddick was hired into the staff of the Dominion Dairy Commission and in 1894 he was assigned the role of superintendent for the newly established Eastern Dairy School in Kingston, Ontario. In this time period, Dr. Ruddick became one of the first to learn how to learn how to administer the Babcock test in Canada and taught this knowledge to others. Ruddick also opened Canada’s first winter creamery in this period, by converting an old cheese factory in Woodstock, Ontario to suit the new innovation.

Dr. Ruddick received his greatest honour in 1904. He was appointed as Dominion Dairy Commissioner, a position he would hold for the next 28 years. Dr. Ruddick introduced a vital records-based herd improvement system, colloquially known as “Cow Testing”. He also focused on spreading knowledge westward once Ontario was well-developed. Dr. Ruddick frequently spoke at conferences in Winnipeg and did important work to provide early dairy education to farmers in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Dr. Ruddick had promoted the dairy industry in those provinces back when both still belonged to the Northwest Territories, showing his determination in reaching out to Canadians no matter how far-flung.

Dr. Ruddick represented Canada internationally at numerous dairy conferences and events. He visited the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and various other European countries. Additionally, in 1923 he traveled to Australia and back to New Zealand to bring new information and techniques back from the other side of the planet. His goal was always to make Canadian dairy better by incorporating innovations from abroad. However, those efforts could stand only alongside his endeavors to spread the knowledge attained domestically.

That same year, Dr. Ruddick published an advertisement offering Helen G. Campbell’s pamphlet “Why and How to use Milk” for free to any interested party that mailed him an address. He also organized the grading of butter and cheese for export, a decision that proved vital to increasing and maintaining quality of Canadian dairy products.

In 1924 Dr. Ruddick obtained his title when he was awarded a Doctor of Laws degree by Queens University for his outstanding service to the dairy industry. Ruddick was struck by a motor vehicle in 1931 and persevered through another year of work but chose to retire in 1932 at 70 years of age.

Dr. Ruddick married Fort Covington, New York native Harriet Emily Congdon. Together they had one daughter, Marion. Dr. Ruddick spent much of his time off with his family at their summer residence in Wakefield, Quebec, until the property was sold in 1949. Ruddick died on March 4th, 1953 and was survived both by his family and by the years of work he put into expanding and improving Canada’s dairy industry. His career was perhaps best summed up by former Manitoba Premier John Bracken who lauded him as “The master mind of the dairy industry in Canada”.

Celebrating 150 Years of Canadian Agriculture