Henry Hoshel Dean

Henry Hoshel Dean

1860 - 1946

Henry Hoshel Dean was a leading figure in Canada’s dairy industry. Recognizing the growing importance of dairy products to Canada’s economy, Dean dedicated his career to strengthening the industry, which led him to establish various dairying programs at the Ontario Agricultural College and attend meetings throughout Ontario. The modernization of the dairy industry in Canada can in large part be credited to Dean’s long years of tireless work.

Dean was born in 1860 in Brant County, Ontario, to parents of German origin. His first experience in the dairy industry came at a young age when he took up work in a cheese factory in Tavistock. He graduated from the Ontario Agricultural College in 1890 with a BSA before spending a few months at the New York Agricultural Experimental Station. The following year, Dean was appointed professor of dairying at the O.A.C., where he quickly endeared himself to his students with his well-organized lectures and exuberant passion for dairy. In 1891, he was appointed Head of the Dairy Department.

A firm believer that the “dairy cow is the foster mother of the human race”, Dean had such an admiration for the dairy industry that he earned the nickname “Henry Holstein” amongst his students. In addition to his lectures, he spread practical advice on dairying through the pamphlets Hints on Butter Making and the Dairy School Bulletin. He also published the book Canadian Dairying in 1903.

Dean recognized the importance of rural education in order to get dairy farmers up to speed with the latest developments of the industry. When John Dryden came up with the idea of ‘travelling dairies’, which were horse-drawn dairying demonstrations that would travel the countryside educating dairy farmers about hygiene and informing them of new and efficient methods of producing butter and other products, Dean was appointed to head the first team. Dean’s traveling dairy was well-equipped with all of the latest dairying devices, such as the Babcock tester, to demonstrate the technical advances of the industry to farmers who were still using outdated methods. Through this work, Dean was able to effectively spread the word on the importance of the dairy industry throughout southern Ontario, although it was far from easy- in 1892, two of his three travelling dairies held meetings at 306 places in 28 counties. Despite the strenuous work, the program was so successful that it was soon emulated throughout Canada and the United States.

Furthermore, in February of 1903, Dean established a Dairy School which offered a twelve-week program instructing students in butter and cheese making for home and factory and the management of dairy herds. Under Dean’s direction, the Dairy School, while retaining the college’s prioritization of hands-on experience, began to place more of an emphasis on scientific theory. The program was enormously successful, granting 400 certificates between 1893 and 1904. Additionally, as the college began to move towards gender integration, Dean’s program admitted the first women in any program of the O.A.C. Of five of the first women graduates from the program, two were recruited to head the first traveling dairies in Nova Scotia, which emulated the ones in Ontario.

The dairy industry of Canada owes a lot to Henry Hoshel Dean with regards to where it is today. Through leading the travelling dairies and the establishment and promotion of the Dairy School at the O.A.C., he was able to ensure that the most important of Canadian industries continued to not only survive but flourish.

Celebrating 150 Years of Canadian Agriculture