Find a Lecture

Model Farmer:

Robert Reford and the Origins of Macdonald College in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue

Speaker: Alexander RefordMacfarm 2
When: Thursday 21 Feburary 2019, 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Where: Centennial Hall,
       288 boul. Beaconsfield, Beaconsfield, H9W 4A4

Lecture in English followed by a bilingual question period

The Reford family’s association with the Beaurepaire or Amable-Curot house at Thompson’s Point is known to members of the Société Historique Beaurepaire-Beaconsfield Historical Society. Less well-known is the role of Robert Reford in creating a model farm in nearby Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, the basis of the present-day Macdonald Campus of McGill University.

Robert Reford was no farmer. But he was a prosperous Montreal entrepreneur. He was also the country’s leading exporter of live cattle to the United Kingdom. Beginning in 1891, he began to develop a model farm on the Crévier property he purchased north of Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue. He described the impressive complex of barns and outbuildings he built as “the best in Canada if not in America”. Journalists of the time agreed. The farm was also a showcase for a herd of prize-winning Ayrshire dairy cattle imported from Scotland, assembled by one of the best stockmen in the country. Thinking the property ideally suited to become one of the Dominion’s experimental farms, he convinced tobacco magnate Sir William Macdonald to make the farm a key component of his zealous efforts to promote modern agriculture and rural education.

These few acres help illuminate a time and a period. Sifting through family archives and agricultural records, Alexander Reford has assembled the story of the trials and tribulations of his ancestor’s efforts to create one continent’s leading model farms.

S 15817 1Alexander Reford is the director of Les Jardins de Métis / Reford Gardens. Educated at the University of Toronto and Oxford University he is the author of several books on Quebec history and gardens:

  • Des jardins oubliés 1860-1960,
  • Guidebook to the Reford Gardens,
  • Au rythme du train 1859-1970,
  • Elsie’s Paradise – Reford Gardens,
  • Treasures of Reford Gardens - Elsie Reford’s Floral Legacy,
  • The Metis Lighthouse.

Recently, Mr. Reford produced the exhibition War Flowers / Fleurs d'armes, on display at the Château Ramezay - Historic Site and Museum of Montréal in Old Montréal from October 2018 to March, 2019.