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Portrait

James Gordon Taggart

Born in Nova Scotia, Gordon Taggart received his early education in that province, attending the agricultural college in Truro. He moved then to Ontario, where he received a B.S.A. degree at the Ontario Agricultural College at Guelph. His next move was to Alberta where he became a teacher and later principal of the School of Agriculture at Vermilion.

When the Dominion Experimental Farm was established at Swift Current in 1921, Taggart became its first superintendent. The Farm, in the heart of the dryland area known as the Palliser Triangle, was destined under the guidance of Gordon Taggart and his successors, to show that farming was not only possible but could be made profitable in the area if proper cultural methods were used to make the most of a difficult combination of soil and moisture conditions.

Under Taggartís direction, much useful work was done on cultural methods and their effects on the conservation of soil moisture. Shallow tillage, strip farming and other erosion control techniques became standard practices on the drylands where the drought and high winds of the 1930s had driven many farmers from their homesteads. Summer-fallow tillage was changed to leave clods and stubble trash on the surface, an effective means of control of soil drifting.

In 1934 he entered the political arena, and became Minister of Agriculture in the government of Premier James G. Gardiner. He continued in that post until 1944, when the Liberal government of Premier W. J. Patterson was defeated by the CCF. Gordon Taggart then moved to Ottawa to become food administrator of the Wartime Prices and Trade Board; later he was appointed chairman of the Meat Board, and chairman of the Agricultural Prices Support Board. In 1949 he was appointed Deputy Minister of Agriculture, serving in that capacity until retirement in 1959.

To Gordon Taggart much credit must be given for his successful efforts to focus the attention of federal authorities on the importance of Prairie agriculture to the nationís economy, and on the lack of federal policies designed to give western farmers a reasonable chance of success in their difficult calling. For his success in these endeavours he was made a Commander of the British Empire; his professional colleagues elected him a Fellow of the Agricultural Institute of Canada, and several universities gave him honorary degrees.

Saskatchewan farmers have good reason to be grateful to agricultural scientists such as Gordon Taggart, whose considerable talents were devoted to making Prairie farming a better way of life.

"Nominated for the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame
by Agriculture Canada, July 1976."

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