Inducted: November 29, 1989
William R. Reek gained national recognition for his work in agriculture, but his permanent roots were in his native Kent County where he shaped the direction of the Western Ontario Experimental Farm as its Superintendent for the first 15 years.
From his early years, he showed a broad spectrum interest in agriculture and all that contributed to its success. Dr. Reek was the first undergraduate student at the Ontario Agricultural College (O.A.C.) to be sent out in Ontario to demonstrate drainage; and he was hired by the College to continue in this work after his 1910 graduation.
A year later, he became secretary to Dr. C.E. James, then Canada Deputy Minister of Agriculture; and the following year he was appointed Assistant Agent-General for Ontario in London, England.
Dr. Reek was recalled to Ontario in 1913 to become Assistant Professor of Animal Husbandry at O.A.C. His earlier association with Dr. C.E. James resulted in his 1915 recommendation for the position of Canada Director of Agricultural Education in Prince Edward Island; and two years later, he was appointed New Brunswick Deputy Minister of Agriculture.
Dr. Reek rounded out a decade of career moves when he became the Assistant Livestock Commissioner for Canada.
His 1922 appointment as Superintendent of the Western Ontario Experimental Farm at Ridgetown brought him a decade and a half of career stability; and a warm association with the Kent County farming community.
Dr. Reek took advantage of it to encourage the establishment of the Ridgetown Agricultural Vocational School in association with the high school.
Among many innovative activities, he encouraged the expansion of grain corn production through the development of a corn-fed hog, leading to Kent County leadership in corn production.
Larger opportunities beckoned, and Dr. Reek left Ridgetown in 1937 to become Ontario Deputy Minister of Agriculture. He continued in that responsibility when he was made Acting President of O.A.C in 1945.
Dr. Reek's work had, by that time, won recognition and appreciation from many areas. In 1946, he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.); and that year he received an Honorary L.L.D. from the University of Western Ontario.
Dr. Reek was named President of the Ontario Agricultural College in 1947, at a time when the College was taking a new direction. He retired to Blenheim in 1950.
Dr. Reek was given an Honorary L.L.D. from the University of Guelph in 1966.
There were many accolades then, and at his death two years later. One Kent County farmer said: "Few men of national stature have the fortune to remain as well-known and universally respected in the area of their birthplace. He provided technological leadership along with mental uplift and visions of new horizons."