Texas A&M, 1961, PhD, Animal Breeding and Physiology
Arthur (Art) Hill was born in 1920 on a 160 acre mixed farm near Carman, Manitoba. He describes his parents as “soldier settlers”, his father having served in France during World War I while his mother nursed the injured in London, England. He recalls that during his first year the family lived in a sod house. Art received his early education at a local one-roomed country school. After 1929 he attended schools in England, including Allhallows School, Devonshire, where he was awarded school colours in cricket. A life-long interest in poultry developed at this time on the small family poultry farm. He received a Certificate in Agriculture from the Institute of Agriculture, Usk, Monmouthshire, in 1939.
Art returned to Canada that year and received a BSA from the University of Manitoba in 1943. War service interrupted further studies, with Art serving as a Lieutenant on the corvette HMCS Sherbrooke on North Atlantic convoy escort duty. The end of World War II in 1945 allowed Art to enter graduate school at UBC where he received the MSA degree in poultry genetics in 1947. He was a founding member of the BC Agrologists at this time. Also, a continuing interest in sports resulted in his helping Dr Harry Warren restart field hockey at UBC and Art captained the team. In addition he won Big Block colours at UBC for cricket and represented BC on the team that tied Ontario for the 1947 Canadian cricket championship. In 1946 Art re-met Barbara Newcombe, Assistant Professor of Home Economics at UBC, and they married in 1948. In one of those strange coincidences of life Art and Barbara had earlier met at the University of Manitoba and, unknown at the time, had both sailed from England on the Empress of Britain in 1939.
From 1947-56 Art gained experience in several positions as a Poultry Instructor and Poultry Geneticist, and operated his own layer operation at Sardis, BC. In 1956 he was appointed as the first poultry scientist to the staff of the Experimental Farm (later Research Station), Canada Department of Agriculture, Agassiz, BC. Between 1949 and 1956 Art and Barbara had five children, a son, daughter, son, daughter and son. As Art points out, only a geneticist could have arranged this order of events.
The opportunity came in 1961 for Art to take a leave of absence and study for PhD in Animal Breeding and Physiology at Texas A&M University. Dr Hill then returned to Agassiz in 1964. His early research was on long-term breeding and selection studies, and on poultry layer management and egg quality. Later he investigated shorter-term layer and broiler breeder responses to population size and density in cages, measuring economic returns and effects on bird behaviour. His scientific papers were published in the world literature and presented at technical conferences in North America and Europe.
Art retained an active interest in the poultry industry following official retirement from Agriculture Canada in 1979. He was a Visiting Professor in the Poultry Science Department at UBC in 1980, and was Secretary-Treasurer of the BC Branch of the Canadian Feed Industry Association from 1981-88. He and Barbara undertook several assignments with the Canadian Executive Service Overseas, conducting poultry-related projects in South and Central America and Trinidad. In these assignments Art and Barbara enjoyed working at the village level and providing much-needed husbandry and home-making skills to rural populations in the developing countries. He visited China in 1993 at the invitation of the Eisenhower People-to-People Citizen Ambassador Program and in 1996 visited Ladekh in North India to observe how Tibetan refugees were conducting sustainable farming on very small irrigated farms on the Indus river.
Art Hill’s social life displays a strong commitment to the community and the Church. He qualified as a Gilwell scouter, was a cub and scout leader, Sunday School Superintendent and Chairman of the Board of Carman United Church. In addition to these activities in retirement he found time to develop and maintain his own poultry flocks, including ducks and geese, supplying hatching eggs to a local hatchery. His most recent endeavor involved the raising of bantam birds for the production of feathers to be used in fly-tying for sport fishing. This entrepreneurial trait may have been learned from his mother while he was growing up in Manitoba. Art recalls that she taught him the important part that marketing plays in the success of the farm business. She shipped cream and New York-dressed turkeys to companies in Winnipeg, advertising the best prices over the radio. She had a battery-powered Marconi earphone receiving set for that purpose.
Art and Barbara built their retirement home in the Swiss-like Ryder Lake district hills near Chilliwack, BC, and named it “Arthur’s Seat”, partly after a famous landmark of that name in the city of Edinburgh, Scotland. Art had spent an enjoyable sabbatical year at the Poultry Research Centre in that city in 1972-73, at the Centre that was later to become the Roslin Research Centre where the famous sheep Dolly was cloned.