Inducted: November 29, 1989
Thomas C. Warwick established a seed corn business in Blenheim that developed a reputation for quality long before hybrid varieties revolutionized the corn industry.
Mr. Warwick was born in London, England, and educated in private schools. At 15, his education was entrusted to Reginald J. Birchall, who accepted funds on behalf of a non-existent Anglo-Canadian Agricultural College in London, Ontario. Birchall, later convicted of embezzlement of funds from several English families and the murder of one of the English boys, was the last person to be hanged publicly in Canada on November 14, 1890.
When Mr. Warwick's father lost his fortune in a mining venture, the 15-year-old had to fend for himself, at first as a chore boy in a lumber camp near Leamington.
He acquired a farm near Guilds, and produced his first seed corn there.
Warwick Seeds, established in Blenheim, supplied all varieties, flint and dent, yellow, red and white, for grain or for ensilage, catering to the growing acceptance of corn on Ontario farms. Its limitations were that all varieties were open-pollinated and subject to the problems inherent with the crop, principally the corn borer. The Warwick operation included many of the best seed growers of the county; and a sales organization that put Kent County seed corn on the map of Ontario.
In addition to the seed business in Blenheim, Mr. Warwick and his sons built one of the largest lumber and construction businesses in Southwestern Ontario. He was on Blenheim Municipal Council beginning in 1918; Mayor in 1925 and 1926; and Reeve in 1927, a time when hydro power, paved streets and a municipal waterworks came to Blenheim.
Mr. Warwick did not live to see hybrid seed take over and corn become "king" of Ontario grains. Mr. Warwick was succeeded by his son, Ernest M., who developed the firm in the hybrid era to become the leading all-Canadian company in seed corn.