Distinguished Canadian veterinarian and statesman.
1857-1923 | Artist: Robert Wadsworth Grafton (1876-1936)
Impact & Accomplishments
When the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) initiated efforts to honor a group of distinguished veterinarians with Saddle & Sirloin portraits in 1918, representatives of Canada’s livestock industry sponsored a portrait of John Gunion Rutherford as well. Dr. Rutherford was, afterall, one of the few Canadians to serve as president of the AVMA, in 1908.
Rutherford was born in Scotland, but immigrated to Canada at age eighteen and studied at Ontario Agricultural College and Ontario Veterinary College. In 1884, he established a veterinary practice in Portage la Prairie, began breeding horses, and assumed leadership of Manitoba’s veterinary and horse breeder associations.
In 1892, Dr. Rutherford was elected to the provincial assembly, and then five years later, to the House of Commons. He was an author of the Manitoba Grain Act of 1900.
In the first decade of the century, Rutherford served as cattle inspector, veterinary director-general, and dominion livestock commissioner. His infant son had died of tuberculosis, so he initiated a program to eradicate the disease in cattle. He organized the Canadian Meat Inspection Service and sent inspectors to the packing houses of Chicago for training. In 1912, Dr. Rutherford went to work for the Canadian Pacific Railway, overseeing all agricultural operations.
He was president of many additional organizations, including the Western Canada Live Stock Union, the Alberta Horse Breeders’ Association, and the Canadian National Live Stock Association.
Did You Know?
The Toronto Globe eulogized Rutherford as one of Canada’s “most earnest and efficient workers for the good of agriculture generally and the live stock industry in particular.”