Seed World

Interested in Insect Pests? You Should Know This Man’s Name

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.

For this, 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.

Through voluminous correspondence, wide-ranging publications, and many speaking tours, Fletcher shared his knowledge with farmers, fruit growers, and gardeners across Canada. He 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.