George Norris, Untitled (Man about to Plant or Pick Alfalfa), 1967
Photo: Howard Ursuliak

George Norris

Man about to Plant Alfalfa
, 1967

95.3 x 73.7 x 83.8 cm
Gift of Dean Blythe Eagles & Mrs. Eagles, 1967

This carved sculpture is located in the courtyard of the H.R. MacMillan Building, which houses the Faculty of Land and Food Systems. Dr. Blythe Alfred Eagles, who was a long-time Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture, commissioned the work for the opening of the MacMillan Building as a memorial to his parents, who were pioneers in the settlement of British Columbia, and to all of those who laboured to improve agriculture in the province. Eagles’ parents reached BC with their respective families in 1885; his mother from Ontario and his father from England via Manitoba. Both families were actively engaged in agricultural or horticultural pursuits.

The Vancouver Sun offered a tribute to Eagles on the occasion of his Great Trekker Award, lauding that under Eagles’ administration the Faculty of Agriculture more than any other at the University:

…had the closest and most personal relation with problems and progress of a large and important section of the people of British Columbia…[and] was consistently accessible and helpful to, not only organizations and industries, but individual ranchers, farmers, dairymen and specialist growers. (“A Proper Recognition,” The Vancouver Sun, October 22, 1966)

Eagles’ commitment to the individual agricultural worker is highlighted in Norris’ sculpture. The work depicts a smoothly curved, stylized figure of a man who is bending down in the action of planting a seedling. The original bronze trifoliate leaf has unfortunately disappeared. The man’s action evokes both the cyclical nature of the growing season and of the farmers’ work.

See Mother and Child for a biography of George Norris.

Other work by George Norris
Mother and Child