Name: William Leslie Kerr, B.S.A., M.S.
Convocation date: May 20, 1982
Discipline / contribution: Horticulture
Citation / biographical information:
Eminent Chancellor, on behalf of the Council and Senate, I present to you Mr. William Leslie Kerr.Degree received: Doctor of Laws
W. L. "Les" Kerr was educated in Ontario and Maryland, and first came to Western Canada in 1932. He was fruit breeder at the Research Station, Morden, Manitoba for most of the 1932 to 1942 period. In his spare time he worked with many perennial ornamental plants and after his promotion to Superintendent of the Tree Nursery in Sutherland, Sask. in 1942 he continued his breeding work with fruit and ornamentals. Mr. Kerr was the driving force responsible for creating the beautiful plant and animal park on these grounds in the 1942 to 1970 period. This area blossomed into an oasis for horticulturists, home owners, picnicers, and nursery operators. In these surroundings Les was able to display most of the well over one hundred cultivars of fruit and perennial ornamentals that he had been responsible for introducing into the nursery trade.
As well as his official duties and active role in his own professional Societies, Les has always given unsparingly of his time to community and service organizations. These include the Saskatchewan Horticultural Societies Association, Saskatchewan Nursery Trades Association, Saskatoon Fair Board, Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Kiwanis Club, Rotary, and the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation. Several of these organizations have bestowed Honorary Life Memberships and other awards on their benefactor.
Mr. Kerr's most notable and lasting contribution to prairie, national, and international horticulture has undoubtedly been in the field of plant breeding and the resultant cultivars introduced, many of which have gained international recognition. Undoubtedly two of the best known of these are the Almey and Royalty ornamental crabapples which were chosen as Canada's Centennial Trees in 1967.
Few Canadians have contributed so much to the beauty of our surroundings, and his contributions to conservation and enhancement of the beauty evidenced around us will be recorded forever in what we can see, smell and touch.
Eminent Chancellor, I present to your Mr. William Leslie Kerr and ask that you will confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
Degree presented by: D.H. Dobbs
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