Our History

Olds School of Agriculture

The Olds College campus is a historical landmark. In the year 1911, Olds College was operating as a provincially funded demonstration farm. It was in November 21, 1913 when it opened as the Olds School of Agriculture and Home Economics, with W.J. Elliot as the principal. Students studied field husbandry, farm mechanics and domestic science. Traditional roles were followed, as men took the agriculture, mechanics, blacksmithing and science courses, and women took courses on sewing, food preparation, and managing the home. The College was nearly self sufficient at the time thanks to the growth and sale of vegetables, grain, livestock, and excess processed food.

Alumni Museum

The Alumni Museum maintains an impressive collection of archives and artifacts that ensure our rich century-long history is preserved as a legacy for future generations. The collection is used by members of the college community for reference or displayed at events showcasing Olds College’s distinguished achievements. 

Learn More about the Alumni Museum

Since its beginning as an agricultural and home economics school, Olds College has expanded its program offerings and has grown to offer more career focused programs over the years. Cooking and sewing classes evolved into our renowned Fashion program, machinery classes have grown to become Agricultural and Heavy Duty Mechanics programs, and farming skills as evolved into our Agriculture Management and Horticulture programs.

We continue to evolve today as we move forward in our applied research and expand our course offerings to include modern technologies and concepts including precision farming, smart agriculture, and harnessing big data.

Olds College Timeline

1911 - 1915
  • Olds Demonstration Farm opens.
  • W.J. Elliott named principal of Olds School of Agriculture and Home Economics.

  • Olds School of Agriculture and Home Economics officially opens on November 21, one of three schools opened by the Alberta Department of Agriculture.

  • Olds School of Agriculture commits to furthering applied research.

  • Hosts provincial dairy competition. 35 local farmers enter 266 cows.

  • First flock of sheep is acquired.

1916 - 1920
  • First extension programs are offered.
  • Olds College Alumni Association is founded with an annual membership fee of 25 cents.

  • First graduate reunion hosted.

  • Earna Roedler becomes the first female graduate of the Agriculture program, which was typically reserved for young men.

  • The first weekly student publication, The Chinook, is first printed.

  • Olds School of Agriculture and other agriculture schools in Alberta are closed and used as hospitals during the Spanish Flu epidemic
  • Frank Grisdale named second principal of Olds School of Agriculture

  • Olds Demonstration Farm merges with Olds School of Agriculture.

  • 16 acres are added to the Olds School of Agriculture farm to facilitate provincial soils investigations. Research focussed on crop rotations and water use.

  • Art Kemp begins landscaping the Olds School of Agriculture campus, feeling the prairie is too barren compared to his native England.

  • Olds School of Agriculture purchases a flock of 500 chickens and begins its equine breeding program.

  • Research on weeds and weed control begins.

1921 - 1925
  • Soil experts at Olds School of Agriculture proclaim that soil depletion is rampant in the region, leading to increased crop rotation research.

  • Pest control is first identified as an area of research as grasshoppers become an issue in many regions of Alberta.

  • Olds School of Agriculture acquires two bee colonies.

  • The equine program has grown to include 13 purebred Clydesdale mares and 2 geldings. Clydesdales were seen as the breed most suited to the diversity of farm work on the prairies.

  • More than 2,000 experimental plots are in use. Half were dedicated to crop rotations, the rest to cultivating various crops including cereal grains, grasses, forage crops, root vegetables, flowers and shrubs.

  • Frank Grisdale institutes a policy of giving seeds and seedlings to anyone who wants them, in order to increase the use of pure, high yielding strains.

1926 - 1933
  • First student residence opens.

  • Olds is the only remaining School of Agriculture in Alberta (Vermillion would re-open again later).

  • Severe economic issues plagued the province, hindering staffing and student enrolment. Government funding to research is limited and Olds School of Agriculture Alumni Association membership and event attendance suffers.

  • The Alumni Association opens its first Museum.

  • 21st Anniversary celebration welcomes three ministers of Agriculture from across Canada: Frank Grisdale (Alberta), Duncan Marshall (Ontario) and J. Gordon Taggert (Saskatchewan). The celebration welcomed 350 guests and was called “the biggest and best and the happiest birthday ever experienced in the history of Olds.”

  • Grass research on European grass Creeping Red Fescue takes place. By 1936, it is referred to as a “miracle grass”. By 1953 production of the strain reaches 6 million pounds total.

  • Farm crop research decreases, only a few of the most important cereal crops are still grown.

  • Experimental work changes to hay and forage crops.

  • Turf grass research expands, with 25 test plots dedicated to lawns. Seed mixes are tested to  determine suitability for lawns, putting greens and bowling greens.

1934 - 1942
  • Student enrolment again increases after years of decreases due to the depression.

  • Significant increase in the domestic sciences program, with enrolment reaching 71 women.

  • More land was given to increase the amount of fruit crop research. Increased in fruit yields allows for canning home grown fruit for winter consumption.

  • Olds School of Agriculture hosts participants in the new federal Unemployment and Agricultural Assistance Act.

  • Olds School of Agriculture popularity has grown to the point where more students are applying than can be accepted.

  • Bees from the Olds School of Agriculture bee colonies produce 580 pounds of honey per year.

  • Orchards include 450 varieties of apple and crab apple trees, and 40 varieties of strawberries. Plum, pear and apricot trees are also grown.

1943 - 1949
  • Olds School of Agriculture establishes the first livestock artificial insemination laboratory in the province.

  • Slaughterhouse constructed next to the livestock classroom.

  • Olds School of Agriculture is the only agriculture school to remain open in Alberta by the end of the depression and World War II.

  • F.N. (Fred) Miller named principal, becoming the first Olds School of Agriculture graduate to serve as principal.

  • The Bowden Flying School building is moved to Olds School of Agriculture and made home to the growing farm mechanics program.

  • Olds School of Agriculture hosts four 4-H’ers from Montana as the 4-H Alberta Montana Exchange Trip is first held.

  • Charles Yauch is named principal of Olds School of Agriculture and begins experimental research on soil issues, and herbicides and pesticides.

  • Yauch counsels area farmers as to the most effective kinds of poison to use on grasshoppers.

1950 - 1955
  • A period of steady enrolment decline in all Alberta schools of Agriculture is spurred by changes in agriculture and an increase in urbanization.

  • Animal Husbandry and Field Husbandry Labs burn to the ground.

  • A fertilizer testing program using super-phosphates was implemented.

  • Renovations on the 1927 dormitory take place.

  • Acetylene welding for machinery repair becomes part of the curriculum

  • Agriculture Mechanics instruction takes a turn from small engines to heavy duty.

  • John Everett Birdsall becomes principal, putting a priority on stability and practicality.

  • Olds School of Agriculture begins hiring full time, specialized instructors, leading to an influx in vocational specialization.

1956 - 1960
  • First official buildings plan is developed.

  • 18 year study of the long-term summer fallowing and continuous forage cropping begins.

  • Special nine week courses began for 120 young people from indigenous communities across Alberta and the Northwest Territories. Students were offered training in home economics, agriculture and community leadership.

  • Principal Birdsall is quoted as stating “today’s farmer is a business executive in overalls.”

  • Agriculture and Home Economics students are given option classes for the first time.

  • Olds School of Agriculture develops its first landscaping plan. Paving begins on many campus roads.

  • Original Livestock Pavilion burns to the ground.

1961 - 1965
  • Home Economics is dropped from curriculum due to lack of interest. It was replaced with two new diploma programs; Secretarial Arts and Clothing and Design.

  • Plant Science Building is opened. It would later be renamed to the James Murray Building.

  • New majors in Animal Science, Plant Science, Mechanics and Farm Management are implemented.

  • By 1963, nearly 9000 students had attended Olds School of Agriculture.

  • Olds School of Agriculture is renamed Olds Agricultural Vocational College. School year is extended from 5 ½ months to 9 - 10 months.

  • Agriculture Diploma is replaced with General Agriculture course with Majors in Agribusiness, Animal Science, Farm Management, Farm Mechanics, Horticulture, and Plant Science.

  • Horticulture is given its first Diploma program.

  • Agriculture Mechanics program from SAIT is transferred to Olds College.

  • Olds Agricultural Vocational College herbarium is established. Within two years it would have over 1600 specimens. The collection has over 30 000 specimens today.

  • Saturday classes are eliminated, many students start to return home on the weekends.

  • Farmland Appraisal and Assessment program is introduced.

  • The College purchases irrigation equipment and constructs a large dugout to supplement classroom instruction.

  • Metals Building is opened.

1966 - 1975
  • Lachlin Mckinnon (Animal Sciences) Building opens.

  • Ground is broken on Frank Grisdale Hall.

  • First farrier course is offered. The program would quickly become one of our specialities. 

  • Frank Grisdale Hall and Duncan Marshall Place open.

  • Olds Agricultural and Vocational College renamed Olds College as it is taken over by the Alberta Department of Advanced Education from Alberta Agriculture. Courses begin to reflect a more broad offering.

  • W.J. Elliot Building opens.

  • Animal Health Technology program opens.

1976 - 1986
  • Period of major program facility expansion in post-secondary system spurred by economic boom and regional diversification program.

  • Olds College status is changed from a government administered institution to a public college.

  • Glen Crombie named the first President of Olds College.

  • Dr. Daniel J. Cornish appointed second President of Olds College.

  • Alberta Summer Games hosted in Alberta with many events held at Olds College.

  • Student Alumni Centre and Learning Resource Centre open.

1987 - 1996
  • Land Sciences Building opens.

  • Buck Godwin is named Olds College’s first Instructor Emeritus.

  • Dr. Robert Turner is appointed as fourth President of Olds College.

  • First students enter Bachelor of Applied Horticulture Technology degree program.

  • Development of the Composting Technology Centre.

1997 - 2000
  • Bank of Montreal Landscape Construction Pavilion opens.

  • John Deere Training Centre opens.

  • First Olds College degrees are granted as the first Bachelor of Applied Horticulture Technology students graduate.

  • Olds College awarded new Bachelor of Applied Agricultural Technology and Entrepreneurship degree to start in 2001.

  • Multipurpose Livestock Centre and Land Sciences Material Handling facility opens.

  • College announces new two-year diploma in high-tech Land Information Systems

  • Alberta Premier Ralph Klein is awarded the first Olds College Honorary Bachelor of Applied Agriculture Technology and Entrepreneurship degree.

2001 - 2002
  • Olds College and Calgary Stampede team up to expand education and training opportunities in agriculture, horticulture, land and the environment for people in the Calgary area.

  • Olds College becomes first college in Alberta to achieve a Certificate of Recognition from the Alberta Safety Council, scoring 95.7% on safety audit.

  • Appointment of H.J. (Tom) Thompson as fifth President of Olds College.

  • OCCI's Composting Technology Centre receives a Growing Alberta Leadership Award.

  • The Honorable Shirley McClellan, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, officially opens the Olds College Centre for Innovation.

  • College Courts Townhouses open.

  • The Lieutenant Governor of Alberta opened Phases I and II of the Olds College Botanic Gardens. Olds College announced the multi-million dollar 40-acre water project for Phase III.

  • eCampus Alberta is launched.

2003 - 2005
  • Olds College launches a new Certified Groom Training Program, offered in conjunction with Horse Racing Alberta.

  • Olds College signs a new block transfer agreement with the University of Alberta.

  • The first annual Olds College Partner of the Year presented to Henry Heuver, supporter of horticultural initiatives at the College.

  • Olds College produced a 22 minute video documenting the effect of the United States border closure to Canadian cattle and beef. The video touches the effects for 30 students and their families, for submission to the US Department of Agriculture.

  • Government of Alberta announces funding for the Community Learning Campus.

2006 - 2008
  • Grounds breaks on Community Learning Campus construction. Students Association presents cheque for $1.01 million dollars to the project.

  • Olds College and EnCana Corp. launch a new partnership to enhance land negotiations in the Oil and Gas Industry in Alberta

  • Olds College opens new campus at Stampede Park. This transitional campus offers land administration and fashion marketing classes to 60 students complete with a 30 station computer lab.

  • Canadian Equine Centre of Innovation receives $10 million from the provincial government.

  • The Canadian Foundation of Innovation (CFI) announces a $1,101,000 investment to support an expansion, modernization and upgrade at the Olds College Centre for Innovation.

  • Bell e-Learning Centre opens.

  • New Business Administration diploma program approved.

  • The School of Animal Science takes delivery of a multi-location abattoir, a pilot study that involves several stakeholders.

  • Tree climbers scale to new heights, as the School of Horticulture Arboriculture program hosts the International Society of Arboriculture Prairie Chapter 2008 Tree Climbing Championship.

2009 - 2012
  • Fine Arts & Multi Media Centre opens.

  • Olds College honours its collective alumni body by naming them “2009 Partner of the Year”.

  • The Community Learning Campus main facility is named Ralph Klein Centre.

  • Olds College expands its presence and programming in Calgary through the establishment of a Calgary campus at Bow Valley College.

  • Olds College and Red Deer College (RDC), collaborating as part of the Campus Alberta vision, formed a new partnership, The Central Alberta College-Community Partnership (CAC-CP). The partnership would later be renamed Campus Alberta Central.

  • Remains of ancient reptile found on Olds College grounds.

  • 10th Anniversary of eCampus Alberta is celebrated.

  • Broncos Athletics program joins the Alberta Collegiate Athletics Council (ACAC) and Canadian Collegiate Athletics Association (CCAA), the highest eligible collegiate athletics programs in the nation.

2013 - Centennial
  • Olds College celebrates its 100th Anniversary.

  • Olds College Brewery and Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program open.

  • Spirit of Entrepreneurship gamified iPad application launched.

  • Botanic Gardens (III) Treatment Wetlands officially open.

  • 60th World Plowing Championships held at Olds College.

  • Broncos Women’s Basketball squad takes home bronze at CCAA National Championships.

  • J.C. (Jack) Anderson Car Auction hosted, raising over one million dollars for Olds College.

  • Hospitality and Tourism program debuts at Olds College.

  • Pomeroy Inn and Suites at Olds College opens.

  • Dual Credit Hairstylist program opens.

  • $20,000 raised in Dominican Republic Coffee Social Enterprise project.

2014 - 2015
  • 50th Anniversary of Horticulture at Olds College.

  • Seeding Success Olds College documentary debuts.

  • Anonymous donor establishes bursaries for learners affected by the southern Alberta floods.

  • Centennial Village student housing facility opens.

  • Inaugural season for the Broncos Women`s Hockey team.

  • Olds College recognized as Apple Distinguished School.

  • 100th Graduating class celebrates convocation.

2016 - 2017
  • Olds College announces Technology Access Centre for Livestock Production.

  • Apparel Innovation Centre opens in Calgary.

  • Online Hospitality and Tourism programs introduced in partnership with Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association.

  • OCCI installs hops growing plots.

  • Olds College increases commitment to Smart Agriculture by forming partnership with Saskatchewan Polytechnic.

  • Largest personal donation in Alberta collegiate history is made by David Werklund and Susan Norman to the Werklund Agriculture Institute.

  • New Equine Reproduction Certificate program launched.

  • Agriculture and Horticulture programs see expanded access.