George Fletcher Morris (1910 - 1999)
George Morris was born in High River, Alberta in 1910, the son of a minister and a school teacher. In 1924, the family returned to Merlin, Ontario. George’s father was killed in a train accident shortly thereafter, leaving George as the head of the family at the young age of 14. In his role as head of the family, he also took on the responsibilities associated with running the family farm. In time, the farm was expanded to more than 500 acres. In addition to producing cattle, he was also involved in buying and selling cattle throughout Ontario.
George became a proponent of corn-feeding cattle and was one of the original members of the Ontario Grain Council. He was a founding member of the Ontario Beef Improvement Association and served as President in 1965. He was served as president of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association from 1972-1974, during which time he introduced a balanced grading system that is the basis for the industry today. Morris was a self-made man and by age 35 achieved the status of millionaire, quite an achievement in 1945! He never received any formal education but he had an extraordinary thirst for knowledge. He constantly asked questions of everyone . . . and about everything. Morris was happy in knowing he “learned something new” each day.
George and his wife, Kay, always worked hard for the development of agriculture and for progressive change. They were known for their enthusiasm for the methods of modern farming and their help to young people. Aside from agriculture, they were leaders in their community and always lent a hand to others.
George had a fondness for cars and owned many. His favourites were a 1930 Ford roadster which he ordered new in a yellow colour when all others were black or bottle green. Another was a 1985 red Corvette which he later donated for a “Homecoming Weekend” draw at the University of Guelph, the proceeds of which were used in the development of the new George Morris Centre.
In 1990, George Morris, the visionary Canadian farmer, founded the agricultural think-tank which bears his name. He was pleased to give his name and half of his estate to the Centre. One of George’s friends described him as “a true leader, one who had boundless energy to look for new ideas and information, and was never satisfied with the status quo.”
Morris was presented with an honourary doctorate from the University of Guelph in 1993, during the same year that he was inducted into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame. He was an honourary life member of the Agricultural Institute of Canada and the Ontario Institute of Agrologists. George Morris died on January 14, 1999.