J.J. Neilson came to the town of Ridgetown, Ontario in 1929 to teach secondary school. He soon became involved with the nearby Experimental Farm associated with the Western Ontario Agricultural School. In 1941 he joined the staff and very quickly became widely regarded for his research work.
He taught courses in biology and horticulture at the Agricultural School until he retired in 1959. He was well known for his ability to communicate basic science to his students. His expectations were very high and some still tell stories of his creative and rigorous methods of teaching. His love of learning and interest in the surrounding community was expressed through many years of involvement with the local Library Board.
He was an enthusiastic promoter of horticulture and, through his untiring work with the local horticultural society, was responsible for planting many of the trees that are now beautiful mature specimens in the parks and along the streets of the town of Ridgetown. Most of the mature trees on the campus were originally planted by "J.J.", as he was affectionately known.
As both a naturalist and horticulturist he left a lasting legacy for future generations. To recognize his work and the impact he has made on the lives of many, the plant collections at the Ridgetown Campus were consolidated under the name of the "J.J. Neilson Arboretum" in 1986.
If You Plan to Visit
- Arboretum is open every day, dawn to dusk. Staff are available during regular office hours - Monday to Friday, 8:30AM to 4:30PM
- There is no admission charge
- Free on-site parking is available in designated lots
- Washrooms are available during regular office hours
- All buildings are wheelchair accessible. Some garden areas do not have paved pathways
- There are several restaurants nearby in the town of Ridgetown
- Tours are available by advanced booking only. Arboretum Self-Guided Walking Tour booklets are available
- View the Arboretum Walking Tour Map