UBC, 1956, BSc, Agriculture
UC Davis, 1959, PhD, Plant Physiology


Douglas P Ormrod was born in 1934, in Fort Langley, BC, and raised on a mixed farm at Milner, a farming community on the old BC Electric Railway in Langley. He was a member of the 4-H swine club and went to the Royal Winter Fair Competitions in 1951. He enrolled in Animal Science at UBC but did not enjoy the dissections, blood and guts so he switched to Plant Science completing the BSA honours degree. Summers were spent at Agassiz and Kamloops Experiment Stations. His fondest recollections are of student group activities at Fort Camp, in the Faculty of Agriculture, and with other summer assistants. He spent his final winter at UBC living in the greenhouse headhouse apartment in return for weekend tending of the plants. He recalls how hard Dean Eagles tried to instill institutional loyalty amongst undergraduates who really wanted to get on with the dance at Aggie banquets rather than listen to lofty speeches.

Doug went on to graduate studies in Agronomy at the University of California, Davis, receiving a PhD in Plant Physiology in 1959. He had been selected to join the faculty there but, when the opportunity arose, he returned to the UBC Department of Plant Science less than two years later. From late 1960 to 1969 he went through the ranks at UBC. Perhaps his most overwhelming experience there was in teaching a course called Biometrics that increased from 25 to 175 students over a four-year period, ultimately including all the Aggies, all the Foresters, and most of the Biology students. It was a great relief when a new faculty member took over Biometrics and Doug could go back to teaching and researching Crop Physiology, a subject that he did know something about.

In 1969 Doug and his family departed for Guelph, Ontario, where he joined the Ontario Agricultural College of the University of Guelph as Chair of the Department of Horticulture. He was to remain in Guelph for 26 years serving in various capacities in the University and the province of Ontario. The last nine years were as University Dean of Graduate Studies, during which time he helped introduce many new graduate programs to fully utilize the expertise available on that campus. His own research program was in the area of environmental stress and pollution effects on crops, earning him College Alumni and University Sigma Xi Research Awards. Between UBC and Guelph he supervised over 60 graduate students and was co-author of over 200 scientific publications.

An early retirement window in 1995 provided the opportunity to return to BC and embark upon a further academic career, undergraduate teaching in Botany at the University of Victoria. Here he taught Applied Plant Physiology, Plants and Society, and Stress Physiology: Plants, courses that were not being offered. He has established a digital time-lapse photography lab for producing research and teaching films, a project that goes back to UBC in the 60’s where he used an old Bolex 16mm camera with a clockwork device to get individual photos. After being on hold for almost 40 years, the advent of inexpensive digital cameras with time-lapse software has provided an exciting new start for this old project.

Doug has been married to Esther (Marrion, UBC BA 1957) since 1957. They have three children and five grandchildren. Sons Rob and John are both Guelph graduates in Agriculture and Jacky (still living near Guelph) is a Child Studies Guelph graduate. Doug and Esther have a home in Victoria, a seaside camp undergoing complete building renewal at Nanoose Bay, and the old family farmhouse in Langley. They plan to have an active retirement and hope to see many of the Aggies who were such an important part of their lives in the 50’s and 60’s.

R Blair 2001

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