N.B.: The detail displayed about each honorary degree recipient varies, as
the database was compiled from a variety of sources. However, more information may
be available at the University Archives.
Convocation date: May 15, 1963
Discipline / contribution: agriculture ; international service
Citation / biographical information:
In 1911, a lad of seventeen, J.B, Harrington migrated from Chicago, his birthplace, to the Maple Creek district. After four years of farming in this hazardous semi-arid environment, he entered the fledgling University of Saskatchewan from which he graduated with the BSA degree in 1920. With his interest in plant breeding and the new science of genetics keenly aroused he decided to forsake his earlier ambition to farm. A year of lecturing in the Field Husbandry Department was followed by three years of post-graduate study at the University of Minnesota and the award of the MSc and PhD degrees by that institution. In 1924 his professional career began with an appointment as assistant professor in the Field Husbandry Department at the University of Saskatchewan. Over the years he advanced from assistant to full professor and In 1950 was appointed head of his department which position he held until he resigned from the University staff in 1956.Degree received: Doctor of Laws
Recognition of his outstanding abilities as a plant breeder brought opportunities for service and employment elsewhere. In 1949-50 he spent 15 months in Egypt as consultant to the Ministry of Agriculture. In 1952 he served the Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations for four months in India at an International Training Centre on rice breeding. In 1955, at an age when many men ease up their pace, Dr. Harrington undertook the challenging, demanding and sometimes hazardous responsibility of FAO consultant on wheat and barley breeding to nine countries in the Near East. He continued in this post until his retirement in 1962.
As a University professor his stimulating, challenging and aggressive teaching and research program attracted a goodly number of students. Today one or more of his former students occupy important positions on the staffs of each of the prairie Universities and of practically every unit of the Canada Department of Agriculture engaged in crop science work on the prairies. In addition his former students have distinguished themselves elsewhere in Canada and in the United States. The products of his teaching and research training have indeed had a very large part to play in shaping the destinies of crop production on the prairies and farther afield,
The production of ten varieties of grain crops attests to his skill as a plant breeder. Among the better known of these varieties are Apex wheat, Fortune oats, Husky barley, Royal flax and Antelope rye. At least four of his 10 varieties are still in use in Saskatchewan and neighboring provinces. Each contributed substantially to higher production or to overcoming some hazard.
His writings, appearing in over 50 papers in scientific journals, indicate the prolificacy and aggressiveness of his research programs. On the more practical aspects of crop production, the list of Dr. Harrington’s bulletins and pamphlets is at least as lengthy as that of his scientific papers. He is the author of a book entitled “Plant Breeding Procedures” published by FAO in 1952.
In spite of an exceptionally active professional life, Dr. Harrington found time to participate in and provide leadership to a number of organizations. With missionary like zeal he organized and served as first president of the Saskatchewan Institute of Agrology. He served on the council of and was elected president of the Agriculture Institute of Canada. That Institute elected him a Fellow in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Canadian agriculture.
Degree presented by: W.J. White, Head of Crop Science
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