OTTAWA, Nov. 9, 2017 /CNW/ - James Fletcher was a self-educated naturalist who transformed Canada's approach to economic entomology. Over several decades he was able to help Canadian farmers, fruit growers and gardeners better understand the impacts of both beneficial and harmful insects to their crops and businesses.
Today, Catherine McKenna, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, as well as the Member of Parliament for Ottawa-Centre, commemorated the importance of James Fletcher as a person of national historic significance.
A special ceremony was held at the Central Experimental Farm with members of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. Through his extensive travels across Canada, Fletcher collected plant and insect specimens for identification and established a national network of farmers and gardeners who reported on harmful weeds and insects in their region.
When Fletcher was appointed as the Dominion of Canada's first entomologist and botanist, he worked at the newly founded Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa, which today, is still an agricultural gem within the city. At the farm, Fletcher established the National Collection of Vascular Plants and the Canadian National Collection of Insects, and founded the Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club. Today, the club continues to care for the Central Experimental Farm's Fletcher Wildlife Garden.
The Government of Canada is committed to connecting Canadians to the significant people, places, and events that contributed to our country's diverse heritage. This year, to commemorate Canada's 150th year of Confederation, Canada's national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation are free to discover for all Canadians and visitors. This includes the Rideau Canal National Historic Site in Ottawa Centre, which visitors can experience on foot, bike or even kayak.
This year Parks Canada invites Canadians to discover and be inspired by the stories of the people, places, and events that shaped Canada. We encourage you to learn more about our country's history, and discover truly Canadian places and stories with Parks Canada.
"The Government of Canada is pleased to commemorate the national historic significance of James Fletcher, as he pioneered both the study of insect depredation on crops and of plant diseases. Fletcher was one of Canada's greatest economic entomologists and applied botanists and his contributions to this field of research were instrumental to Canada as a young and agriculturally based nation. As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation, I encourage all Canadians to take this opportunity to learn more about Fletcher and his important role in our country's history."
The Honourable Catherine McKenna
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada and Member of Parliament for Ottawa-Centre
"James Fletcher was an agricultural research pioneer whose work and achievements had a nationally significant impact on our nation. The installation of the commemorative plaque at the Central Experimental Farm will help visitors form connections between Canada's agricultural and scientific heritage and the continuing cutting-edge research and innovation that continues to be undertaken by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada today."
The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
- Through voluminous correspondence, wide-ranging publications, and many speaking tours, James Fletcher shared his knowledge with farmers, fruit growers, and gardeners across Canada.
- Fletcher advanced the natural sciences by helping to establish professional and non-governmental organizations, scientific journals, the National Collection of Vascular Plants, and the Canadian National Collection of Insects.
- In Ottawa, residents can discover the Rideau Canal National Historic Site from two new paddle access points, where they can launch their canoes, kayaks and paddle boards. Each year, the Rideau Canal National Historic Site has over 1 million visitors and serves over 50,000 boats.
- Created in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Minister of Environment and Climate Change regarding the national historic significance of places, people and events that have marked Canada's history.
James Fletcher (1852-1908)
James Fletcher, a self-trained naturalist of great calibre, pioneered both the study of insect depredation on crops and the study of plant diseases in Canada – topics that were of vital importance to viable agriculture in Canada. As the first Dominion entomologist and botanist, Fletcher was instrumental in convincing the government that research into economic entomology and plant pathology was necessary. Through his voluminous correspondence, his wide-ranging publications, and continuous public speaking tours, Fletcher communicated his knowledge to farmers, fruit growers, and gardeners across the country. He further advanced the natural sciences by helping to establish professional and non-governmental organizations, scientific journals, the National Collection of Vascular Plants, and the Canadian National Collection of Insects.
Fletcher was born in England and came to Canada in 1874. While in Canada, he established a reputation as an authority on insects and botany. He joined the Entomological Society of Canada in 1877 and, in 1878, published his first paper on Canadian jewel beetles. He was the founder of the Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club and published a series on botany in the organization's journal. In 1884, the Minister of Agriculture appointed Fletcher as honourary Dominion entomologist and botanist to provide scientific advice to Canada's growing agricultural community, in particular with respect to insect control. In this role, he set out to precisely identify threats and then promoted some of the first experimental and chemical controls. This research led him to be recognized as Canada's father of economic entomology, that is, the study of insects that benefit or harm crops, farm animals, or humans. He also pioneered the study of plant pathology in Canada, which is the study of organisms and environmental conditions that cause disease in plants.
In 1887, he became the first official Dominion entomologist and botanist with the founding of the Department of Agriculture's Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa. He remained in this role until 1908. Initially working without staff, he identified pest insects and weeds and recommended controls. He drafted the first federal legislation pertaining to insects, the San Jose Scale Act of 1898, which restricted and controlled imports. Fletcher's donated personal collection formed the foundation for the National Collection of Vascular Plants, the national herbarium. He also began the collection of insects that has become the Canadian National Collection of Insects. These two collections continue today as active centres of scientific research.
SOURCE Parks Canada
For further information: Marie-Pascale Des Rosiers, Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, 613-462-5473, firstname.lastname@example.org; Bruce MacMillan, Public Relations & Communications Officer, Georgian Bay and Ontario East Field Unit, Parks Canada, email@example.com, 613-923-5261 extension 122; Media Relations, Parks Canada Agency, 855-862-1812, firstname.lastname@example.org