Howard Laing Hutt

Howard Laing Hutt

OCTOBER 5, 1866 - JUNE 27, 1948

Howard Laing was one of the most foremost figures in the history of Ontario horticulture. Hutt was born on a farm in Stamford township in Welland, Ontario, the oldest of seven children. He began his education at Cornell University before completing a degree at the Ontario Agricultural College in 1891 with a B.S.A.

He was made the head of the horticultural department at the Ontario Agricultural College in 1893, a position he held until 1908. He combined the O.A.C.’s practical and academic programs, and under his leadership many improvements to the horticultural program at the college were introduced.

In 1907, he established the first B.S.A. degrees in horticulture, consolidating the position of scientific horticulture at the college. He also began organizing fifteen experimental fruit stations that would test new and little-known fruits in what was known as the Horticultural Experiment Station project. The stations would determine the varieties of fruit best adapted for growing in various areas of the Ontario fruit belt and produce new and better varieties. The stations would also investigate cultural problems, pollination, soil management, pruning, propagation, and weed control. Hutt served as inspector of these stations, which required him to travel throughout the Niagara region. This project paved the way for the establishment of the Horticultural Research Institute of Ontario, an organization that was responsible for the coordination of all horticultural research and service programs in Ontario. Hutt was also a member of the Fruit Growers’ Association of Ontario, where he promoted reforestation for soil and water conservation.

In addition to his work in horticulture, he also contributed to the gardening department in his later career. In 1908, he organized plans for a separate landscape gardening. Furthermore, he was head of the Department of Landscape Gardening until 1914. He was in charge of taking care of the exterior of the campus which saw him doing extensive yard work for the beautification of the O.A.C. and managing a newly built greenhouse that supplied the college with fruits and vegetables, demonstrating his commitment to the college on a personal level. Hutt also collaborated with the C.P.R. with regards to gardening. He was given a commission to travel through Western Canada as an advisor on railway gardens, which were maintained by the C.P.R throughout the late 19th and early 20th century. After his retirement, Hutt continued to consult with the C.P.R.

He retired in 1914 in Georgetown, where he opened up a commercial horticulture business and was active in the Georgetown Horticultural Society. In addition to his passion for horticulture and landscaping, Hutt was known for his wit; in his retirement he contributed to a humorous column, “The Weather”, in his local Georgetown paper.

His contributions to the O.A.C. have helped shape the institution into what it is today. His legacy is memorialized in the H.L. Hutt building, which was the office of the president during the Second World War and currently houses the department of Geography. Modern horticulture in Ontario owes a lot to Howard Hutt, and his work and leadership are one of the major reasons why the industry enjoys the success that it has today.

Celebrating 150 Years of Canadian Agriculture