Director of Canterbury Agricultural College (1901-1908), B. A., B.Sc.
Mr. William Lowrie, who was Director of the College from 1901 to 1908, was born in the lowlands of Scotland of a farming family and graduated B.Sc. at Edinburgh. He was subsequently appointed Director of Roseworthy Agricultural College near Adelaide, a position very similar to that which he afterwards held here. At Roseworthy he introduced more intensive methods of wheat growing, particularly the use of super; during his directorship there the average yield of wheat on the farm rose from 8 bushels to 22 bushels per acre without ever once looking back.
On his appointment here it was soon found that the College had secured a Director of an extraordinary combination of parts. He was perhaps first of all an educationist. Since chemistry was the mother of agricultural science, all early agricultural teaching was based solely upon its chemical aspects. By the beginning of this century the biological aspects of agriculture were beginning to come to be recognised, and Mr. Lowrie re-organised the curriculum of the College to put it in line with advancing knowledge. The teaching of botany was increased in importance, great attention was given to the growing of grasses, and a resident veterinary surgeon was appointed. The discipline of the College had been indifferent for some years, and Mr. Lowrie was faced with a difficult task in stiffening up the internal life of the College as well as the farm work of the students. Serious troubles occurred, but a reasonable set of rules enforced without varying, without flinching, finally established a healthy tone, and the work of the College ran smoothly.
On the farming side Mr. Lowrie's chief contributions to progress were the introduction of manuring of wheat and the growing of Italian Rye. In 1900 it was the accepted opinion that the only way to manure whea.t was through the preliminary crop of turnips or rape- that direct manuring of wheat did not pay. Now 80 per cent of the wheat crop in Canterbury is manured with super. The introduction of Italian Rye had great immediate effects, unfortunately obscured in later years by trying to use Italian as a long rotation pasture grass.
During those years students did much more of the higher classes of farm work than they had ever done before, and the farm increased in productiveness though it did not improve in appearance. These were the years in which the College endowment income had sunk to its minimum, and to balance the budget the farm had to be worked on the most productive lines. This fact, together with Mr. Lowrie's excellent manner to farmers and his powerful addresses to them, secured for him a high degree of respect and confidence. He had inaugurated the function now known as farmers' day, and when at the end of 1908 his retirement from the College was announced the gathering of farmers that met to pay him respect and wish him farewell was one of the largest on record.
Mr. Lowrie left New Zealand to become Director of Agriculture for West Australia and after a year or two there he became Director of Agriculture for South Australia.
His independence of spirit, however, unsuited him for close association with politics and he soon retired from that position to take up farming on his own account on the hills behind Adelaide.
There, his scientific insight and boundless energy caused his farm to become an oasis in a wilderness, and it was admired by visitors from near and far.
Mr Lowrie died at his home near Adelaide in June 1933. He married first Miss Waterhouse, and some years after her death her sister-the Mrs. Lowrie whom New Zealanders knew for her gentleness and goodness.
He had no children by either marriage. He is remembered by old students for his enthusiasm, hard work, excellent teaching, stern discipline and scrupulous fairness. His service to Canterbury was to make the College a credit to the province and to bring it to some degree into contact with the life of the farming community.
As long as this generation lives, Mr. Lowrie's name will be remembered with respect and affection.Date of Birth18th October 1857Date of Death20 July 1933In MemoriamProfessor William Lowrie, Director of this College 1901-1908.Source1933 Canterbury Agricultural College Magazine (No. 58 December 1933)External LinkWilliam Lowrie From WikipediaPosition
Director of the School of Agricultural and of the Canterbury Agricultural College (1901-1908)KeywordsDirector