Vintage Library

Olds College Tradition

Olds College Changes as Technology Changes

At Olds College, we still uphold the values and traditions that date back to our beginning, including small class sizes, specialized training and extension education. Courses today still emphasize hands-on training, just like the first courses back in 1913.

The Olds School of Agriculture and Home Economics opened on November 21, 1913. Students studied field husbandry, farm mechanics and domestic science. Those original offerings have expanded into a wide variety of programs and courses in agriculture, horticulture, land management, environment and applied business.

As Canadian industry has grown, so too has Olds College. For almost a century, our emphasis on hands-on training, applied research, and high-tech learning has resulted in graduates who are in-demand and have the skills and the tools they need to succeed.

Our Beginning

Olds College's roots are in farming and home economics. Students of the day took classes in the latest in farming techniques, animal husbandry, and home economics. The College was mostly self sufficient, as students grew vegetables and grains, raised livestock and processed the food they ate on campus.

Program areas divided along traditional gender roles, with women learning sewing, cooking and home care and men focusing on farm, business and agricultural courses.

Students enjoyed an active social life while attending Olds College. Dances and play nights as well as church services and club events kept students busy and happy while they learned.

During the Great Depression and World War II, life was more difficult at Olds College. Few luxuries were available and students and staff worked hard to ensure the success of each crop and to make sure nothing went to waste. The economic pressure of the time forced the closing of all of Alberta's agriculture colleges, except Olds. It is the only agricultural college in Alberta with a continuous history, successfully surviving those difficult times.

One thing that has changed over time is our name. First known as the Olds School of Agriculture and Home Economics, it became Olds Agricultural and Vocational College in 1963 and finally, Olds College, in 1971, to reflect our broader course offerings.

Curriculum Changes

Since its beginning as an agricultural and home economics school, Olds College expanded and became more career-focused over the years. For example, cooking and sewing classes evolved into a Fashion program, and typing and shorthand courses became a modern, computerized Office Administration program.

Industry still requires a basic Agricultural Production program, but ours now has four majors including Precision Farming courses working with computers and satellite technology. Also, we offer separate programs for Ag Mechanics, Ag Business and Seed and Grain Technology. Early horticultural courses evolved into a broad range of horticultural programs and diplomas and the College's first degree program.

The College introduced several major changes during the 1960s, due to declining enrolments. More business and trade programs were dropped as well as various other programs and courses. Programs and courses in animal health, horticulture and floriculture, land and water conservation and business first appeared during this period. Today, a wide variety of programs in agriculture, horticulture, land, applied business and the environment prepare students for successful careers.

Olds College Today

Today Olds College is the largest agricultural College in Alberta and graduates approximately 25 percent of English-speaking agricultural diploma recipients in Canada. Students come from Alberta, Canada, and around the world to experience the College's unique brand of quality education.

As we look to the future, and as Canada's population continues to grow and become more urbanized, Olds College and its programs will continue to advance and adapt to meet the changing needs of industry and entrepreneurs. Our international reputation is growing and we have spearheaded projects in more than 30 countries. 



Olds Demonstration Farm opens


W.J. Elliott named principal of Olds School of Agriculture and Home Economics (June). Olds School of Agriculture and Home Economics officially opens on November 21, one of three schools opened by the Alberta Department of Agriculture


School commits to furthering Applied Research


First extension programs offered


First graduate reunion and creation of Alumni Association

1918 - 1919

Olds and other agricultural schools used as hospitals during influenza epidemic


Olds is the only School of Agriculture to stay open during this period


First student residence opens


Olds is the only Alberta Agricultural School to remain open during the Depression and World War II

Olds opens the first Artificial Insemination Lab in Alberta


Period of steady enrolment decline in all Alberta schools of Agriculture spurred by changes in agriculture, increase in urbanization

School focuses more on business and trade programs in the 1960s

Animal Husbandry and Field Husbandry Labs burn to the ground

1962- 1970

Period of major facility expansion, beginning with the Plant Science Building and a 500-bed dormitory-style residence


New majors in Animal Science, Plant Science, Mechanics and Farm Management begin

James Murray Building opens March 13th

First Secretarial Arts program is offered


Olds School of Agriculture and Home Economics, becomes Olds Agricultural and Vocational College.

Home Economics courses replaced by Clothing and Design courses. Commercial training courses (secretarial and business) added to curriculum and Horticulture introduced as new diploma programs


New Animal Science building opens


Frank Grisdale Hall, the new student residence, opens


Olds Agricultural and Vocational College renamed Olds College as it is taken over by the Alberta Department of Advanced Education from Alberta Agriculture. Courses begin to reflect a broader offering


Olds, Vermilion (renamed Lakeland), Fairview, and Keyano colleges given full status as Board-governed institutions

Glen Crombie named the first President of Olds College


Period of major program facility expansion in post-secondary system spurred by economic boom and regional diversification program


Dr. Daniel J. Cornish appointed second President of Olds College


Student Alumni Centre and Learning Resource Centre opens


Land Sciences Building opens


Government announced cutbacks


Appointment of Dr. Robert Turner as fourth President of Olds College


First students enter Bachelor of Applied Horticulture Technology degree program

Capital construction resumed using funds from industry Development of the Composting Technology Centre


Bank of Montreal Landscape Construction Pavilion and John Deere Training Centre open


Nine people with Bachelor of Applied Horticulture Technology degrees are first Olds College degree graduates

1998 -1999

New $2.4 million Townhouse Residence (College Court) officially opens


Olds College Centre for Innovation opens


Olds College awarded new Bachelor of Applied Agricultural Technology and Entrepreneurship degree to start in 2001

Multipurpose Livestock Centre and Land Sciences Material Handling facility opens


College announces new two-year diploma in high-tech Land Information Systems

Alberta Premier Ralph Klein is awarded the first Honorary Bachelor of Applied Agriculture Technology and Entrepreneurship degree

Lieutenant-Governor Lois Hole is keynote speaker at Olds College graduation


Olds College and Calgary Stampede team up to expand education and training opportunities in agriculture, horticulture, land and the environment for people in the Calgary area

Olds College becomes first college in Alberta to achieve a Certificate of Recognition from the Alberta Safety Council, scoring 95.7% on safety audit

Appointment of H.J. (Tom) Thompson as fifth President of Olds College

OCCI's Composting Technology Centre receives a Growing Alberta Leadership Award

The Honorable Shirley McClellan, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, officially opens the Olds College Centre for Innovation


The Lieutenant Governor of Alberta opened Phases I and II of the Olds College Botanic Gardens. Olds College announced the multi-million dollar 40-acre water project for Phase III


Olds College launches a new Certified Groom Training Program, offered in conjunction with Horse Racing Alberta

Olds College signs a new block transfer agreement with the University of Alberta

A sold-out crowd enjoyed an unforgettable evening at the 90th Anniversary Gala celebration

The first annual Olds College Partner of the Year presented to Henry Heuver, supporter of horticultural initiatives at the College

Olds College graduate, Steven Snider, named Alberta's Outstanding Young Farmer


John Deere Ltd. named Olds College Partner of the Year

Olds College produced a 22 minute video documenting the effect of the United States border closure on 30 students and their families, for submission to the US Department of Agriculture

The Honorable Dr. Lyle Oberg, Minister of Learning for the Province of Alberta, and Gloria Beck, co-owner of Red Deer’s Parkland Nurseries & Garden Centre, named Olds College Honorary Degree recipients for 2004


Three of four members on the Canadian team competing at the world Blacksmithing Championships in July are Olds College graduates (July 2, 2005)

For the second year in a row, a student team from Olds College School of Horticulture took the silver medal at the prestigious Skills Canada national competition

The Honorable Dr. Lyle Oberg, Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation, was on Campus to make an announcement (June 23, 2005) at the Olds College’s Report to the Community Event. He indicated $6.9 million will be committed immediately to the Community Learning Campus (CLC) with detail of the remaining $30 million to be released by the government in the next few weeks. The Community Learning Campus (CLC), one of the six major capital campaign projects underway, will see four structures built on the Olds College campus: the Core High School, eLearning Core, Health and Wellness Facility, and the Fine Arts and Multi Media Centre.

The CLC wins an international design concept award for its innovative educational design and community partnerships. Award presented by the Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI) at an annual conference in San Antonio, Texas.


Olds College and EnCana Corp. launch a new partnership to enhance land negotiations in the Oil and Gas Industry in Alberta. Donation is for $1.05 million in support of the Land Agent program

Dot Negropontes accepts Director role for the CLC (Community Learning Campus)

Olds College Student Association presents the CLC with a cheque for $1.01 million dollars at the official groundbreaking ceremony on May 24, 2006.

Olds College opens new campus at Stampede Park on October 3, 2006. Advanced Education Minister Denis Herard, post-secondary students and officials from the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede officially open the campus. This transitional Campus is located at Stampede Park and offers land administration and fashion marketing classes to 60 students complete with a 30 station computer lab.

Canadian Equine Centre of Innovation receives $10 million from the provincial government.

The Canadian Foundation of Innovation (CFI) announces a $1,101,000 investment to support an expansion, modernization and upgrade at the Olds College School of Innovation (OCSI).


New Business diploma program approved. Olds College announces its newest offering, a diploma in Business Administration, designed to prepare graduates for a diverse range of business and organizational settings (January).

The School of Animal Science takes delivery of a multi-location abattoir, a pilot study that involves several stakeholders, including Alberta Agriculture and Food.

Premier Ed Stelmach attends Growing the Legacy Gala (March).

Attending Olds College becomes even more affordable, with the announcement of two new Entrance Awards available to students (April).

An African tailoring instructor studies at Olds College, to enhance and further develop his teaching abilities (May).

Tree climbers scale to new heights, as the School of Horticulture’s Arboriculture program hosts the International Society of Arboriculture Prairie Chapter 2008 Tree Climbing Championship (June).

College receives SAM award from Red Deer area homebuilders in recognition of partnership and environmental programming.


Student and community talent take centre stage at the official opening of the Fine Arts & Multi Media Centre. The event is punctuated by a major gift announcement from TransCanada Corporation, who invests $500,000 into the centre. The theatre and auditorium are now officially known as The TransCanada Theatre. (February)

Olds College honours its collective alumni body by naming them “2009 Partner of the Year”. (March)

Olds College School of Innovation enters a new period of important research thanks to $3.1 million in funding from industry partners and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. (March)

Responding to demand from within a $20 billion dollar per year industry, Olds College adds a new Meat Industry Management Certificate to its curriculum. The only true gate-to-plate program of its kind in North America, it will give graduates a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of the meat industry, from slaughter right through to purchase by the consumer. (May)

Provincial Cabinet Ministers and media were on hand in the Edmonton area for the launch of an all-female Heavy Equipment Operators program, a new offering trough the School of Trades and Career Studies. The program is a result of collaboration between the College, Women Building Futures and Sureway Construction. (June)

The Presidents and Directors of the Board of Polytechnics Canada, an alliance of nine research intensive, internationally recognized post-secondary institutions committed to producing career-ready graduates who combine critical thinking with theoretical understanding and practical competence, welcome Olds College to its membership. (July)

Olds College receives $5.836 million to upgrade and renew campus facilities in a second round of joint federal-provincial funding through the Knowledge Infrastructure Program (KIP). (August)


With $750,000 in new funding from the Government of Alberta announced in December by Premier Ed Stelmach, the newest CLC facility, housing a health & wellness centre, government offices and Olds High School, was named the Ralph Klein Centre in honour of the former Premier.

Representatives from Bow Valley College (BVC) and Olds College signed a memorandum of understanding that will see the two colleges work closely on matters involving program development, facilities and services, and transfer credit and articulation. Olds College will expand its presence and programming in Calgary at Bow Valley College through the establishment of a Calgary campus within BVC.

Created as part of Olds College’s ongoing work within the Alberta Government’s Roles and Mandates policy framework, Olds College announced a $200,000 awards package for students from the Central Alberta region or students entering Olds College’s Business Administration Program. Upon admission, students will be eligible for a $1000 award to be applied towards their tuition.

With all 342 available seats filled, Olds College’s 2010 Gala was once again a rousing success. On hand among the many supporters from industry and alumni were dignitaries Luke Ouellette, Minister of Transportation, and Mary Anne Jablonski, Minister of Seniors and Community Supports. The funds raised that evening, created total gross revenues of $163,000 and a net profit of $75,000 for the Olds College Opportunities Fund. These proceeds are a “best ever,” marking a 65 per cent increase from the previous year.

The College welcomed the federal Government’s 2010 Budget and, in particular, appreciated its recognition of the roles Canada’s colleges and polytechnic institutions play in applied research and commercialization activities. This statement of support indicates the continuation of funding that has already greatly benefitted the College and its partners. The budget also included money for deferred maintenance initiatives.

Olds College invited the surrounding community to join in preparations for its 100th anniversary by submitting designs for its 2013 Centennial logo. With a rich history of community involvement stretching back 97 years, it was only fitting to include Albertans as this landmark moment in the College’s history approaches.

Olds College and Red Deer College (RDC), collaborating as part of the Campus Alberta vision, formed a new partnership, The Central Alberta College-Community Partnership (CAC-CP). The CAC-CP will see the two bring post-secondary learning closer to home for many central Albertans by providing a broad range of programming to communities through the use of the latest technology, including videoconferencing and web-conferencing. Students will be supported by sites in local communities that serve as hubs for services and support.

Approximately 670 graduates crossed the stage as part of Olds Colleges 2010 Graduation ceremony. Honorary Degrees, awarded in part for the their dedication to the completion of the Community Learning Campus were bestowed upon Jim Gibbons, outgoing Chinooks Edge School Division Superintendent, Richard Marz, MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills, and Ty Lund, MLA for Rocky Mountain House. Guest speaker for the event was Troy Loney, a former NHL hockey player and Stanley Cup Champion.

In an annual event recognizing the leadership Olds College's Board Chairs have displayed since the Board of Directors' 1978 inception, the President's Round Table took place on the Community Learning Campus. Among many highlights, School of Animal Science Chair Dalin Bullock presented information on the College's proposed National Meat Training Centre and lunch featured meat from Olds College's own programs.


Centennial Sponsors

The Western Producer
Centennial ($100,000+)
Olds Ag Society
Chairman ($50,000 - $99,999)
ATB Financial
Chairman ($50,000 - $99,999)
Chairman ($50,000 - $99,999)
Pomeroy Inn & Suites
President ($25,000 - $49,999)
The Town of Olds
President ($25,000 - $49,999)
Mountain View County
President ($25,000 - $49,999)
PennWest Exploration
President ($25,000 - $49,999)
President ($25,000 - $49,999)
President ($25,000 - $49,999)
TD Foundation
President ($25,000 - $49,999)
96.5 CKFM
President ($25,000 - $49,999)
Rock 104.5
President ($25,000 - $49,999)
Farm Business Communications
President ($25,000 - $49,999)
Alberta Farmer Express
President ($25,000 - $49,999)
Shunda Construction
President ($25,000 - $49,999)
Fountain Tire
President ($25,000 - $49,999)
Cervus Equipment
President ($25,000 - $49,999)
Specialty Vehicle Appraisal Institute
President ($25,000 - $49,999)
President ($25,000 - $49,999)
President ($25,000 - $49,999)
President ($25,000 - $49,999)
President ($25,000 - $49,999)
John Deere
President ($25,000 - $49,999)
Hildebrand Motors
Dean ($10,000 - $24,999)
Dean ($10,000 - $24,999)
Netook Construction Ltd.
Dean ($10,000 - $24,999)
Bayer Crop Science
Dean ($10,000 - $24,999)
Clark Builders
Dean ($10,000 - $24,999)
Mountain View Credit Union
Dean ($10,000 - $24,999)
Cam Clark Ford
Dean ($10,000 - $24,999)
Mountain View Publishing
Dean ($10,000 - $24,999)
Shoppers Drug Mart
Dean ($10,000 - $24,999)
Dean ($10,000 - $24,999)
Dean ($10,000 - $24,999)
Kal Tire and Firestone Canada
Dean ($10,000 - $24,999)
Dean ($10,000 - $24,999)
Kubota Canada Ltd.
Dean ($10,000 - $24,999)
Dean ($10,000 - $24,999)
Dean ($10,000 - $24,999)
Corkscrew Media
Dean ($10,000 - $24,999)
Dean ($10,000 - $24,999)
Canadian Tire, Olds
Dean ($10,000 - $24,999)
A & W
Dean ($10,000 - $24,999)
Michener Allen
Dean ($10,000 - $24,999)
Dean ($10,000 - $24,999)
Calgary Airport Authority
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
Farm Credit Canada
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
Olds College Alumni Association
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
Olds Dodge Chrysler Jeep
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
Ranger Land Services
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
Canadian Corps of Commissionaires
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
McNally Land Services Ltd.
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
Ultimate Safety Alberta Ltd.
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
Sun Life Financial
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
McCallum Printing Group Inc.
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
Red Deer County
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
Canalta Hotels
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
Ramada Hotels
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
Lacombe County
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
Alberta Union of Provincial Employees
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
Karcher Powerwashers
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
Gem Silage
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
Hemisphere Engineering
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
Stampede City Model A Ford Club
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
Competition Insurance
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
Parkland Nurseries & Garden Centre Ltd.
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
Stampede City Model A Ford
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
Konica Minolta
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
RubyDale Asphalt Works Ltd.
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
TD Canada Trust
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
Hemisphere Engineering Inc.
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
Palliser Chev
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)
RBC Royal Bank
Friend ($5,000 - $9,999)

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