UBC, 1950, BSc, Agriculture


“I was born into a pioneer livestock family in Alberta , which supplied a carload of Hereford bulls to the first Kamloops bull sale in 1919. Then we moved to BC in 1920 for my father to manage the J C Dunwaters at Fintry. J C later arranged the importation of the Ayrshire herd for UBC from Scotland. In 1927 we moved to Vancouver to operate the stockyards for the public abattoir at the foot of Fraser Street . In April, 1940, I left high school to work as a herdsman at Earlscourt Farms, Lytton, owned by Colonel V Spencer raising purebred Herefords. I left there in May 1941 to join the RCAF for pilot training.

In May, 1942, I graduated as a pilot and was posted overseas. That posting was later rescinded and I was sent to #5A0S Winnipeg , a navigator training school on leave without pay. In 1943 I resigned from the CPA flying school to return to the RCAF, and was posted overseas in 1944 to train with the RAF until joining the Canadian 408 Sqdn, Yorkshire, England . During one operation enroute to Germany in 1945 we had to bail out due to an uncontrollable engine fire. Luckily all the crew of 7 survived, although the bomb aimer never flew on operations again due to an injury. I switched from Halifax bombers to Lancasters to fly home enroute to the Far East theatre, when the European war ended. In July I married Dorothy Fraser RN in Vancouver. (Her father had moved UBC buildings to the current campus in 1922). After marriage leave I returned to my unit in Greenwood, NS. In August, 1945, Japanese hostilities ended so Tiger Force was disbanded and I returned to Vancouver for discharge.

During the winter of 1945-46 I operated a cattle feedlot for BC Livestock Co-op at Fraser Street stockyard in Vancouver. Later in 1946 I rehabilitated the family ranch at Watson Bar, BC, in September enrolled in the Animal Husbandry program at UBC. While at UBC I served as undergrad rep on the Student Council committee, and took up summer employment with the City of Vancouver Roads Dept. During the summers of 1948 and 1949 I started a dairy herd at North Bend, BC, and delivered raw milk from there to Boston Bar.

Our daughter Leslie was born at VGH in 1950, and after graduation from UBC with a BSA I joined the Livestock Division of the Canada Department of Agriculture in Regina , Saskatchewan . One of my duties there was working on the evaluation and settlement negotiated for farm animals destroyed in the 1952 Foot and Mouth Outbreak. In 1953 I was transferred to Livestock Division, Toronto, Ontario, and worked throughout the province as a Livestock fieldman. Our second daughter Louise was born before leaving Regina . In 1955 I was promoted to Ottawa to head up the Beef Cattle section for the Livestock Division. Third daughter Laura was born that year.

In my new position I designed and initiated beef cattle performance testing as a forerunner to the ROP (Record of Performance) program. This beef program was set up despite opposition from Breed Associations and research academics. In 1957 I initiated program testing and carcass appraisal for offspring of artificial insemination bull studs, and the ROP beef program was formalized.

I was promoted to Chief of Production Section in 1958, in charge of dairy, beef, swine and sheep programs for the Federal Livestock Division. During 1959-69 I provided liaison for the Federal Livestock Division, and for Federal, Provincial Beef testing program and commercial feedlot performance and carcass appraisal programs for commercial herds. Other career highlights at this time included providing quality control for 700 commercial and purebred beef cattle exported to Romania, and representing Canada on the American Beef Cattle Performance Association; Performance Registry International (Director) and Beef Improvement Federation of the USA.

In 1964 I had purchased a 300-acre and a 100-acre farm within 27 miles of Ottawa and began farming. Resignation from CDA in 1970 allowed me to form Hy-Cross Beef Breeders Ltd. and I began importing Simmental, Limousin and other breeds of cattle from Europe and custom buying for other import permit holders. Core herds were in Ontario with co-operating herds in Alberta and Saskatchewan , both commercial and pedigree.

By-pass heart surgery in 1975 slowed me up for a short time, but I was active again by December of that year. In April, 1976, “Polaris” was born in the Hy-Cross Simmental Herd – the first polled full-blood in North America . In 1977 Hy-cross was sold as an operating cattle breeding company and I remained as managing director for 1 year.

In subsequent commercial ventures I purchased and maintained a 40 head Holstein herd for a Veterinary firm to produce blood serum for Connaught Laboratories Polio Vaccine Program. That contract was later breached, the herd sold, and my farm leased to a neighbour. A second heart surgery in 1991 forced retirement, the farms were sold and we returned to BC in 1997.”

Mr Baird, with the characteristic energy that he had displayed in several outstanding careers, served on the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences Committee to plan the 2000 Reunion. He passed away in 2009.

R Blair 2002

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