The Barker Veterinary Museum owes itself to the vision of Dr. C.A.V. Barker. It was under his vision and leadership that the museum was established at the OVC beginning in the late 1940s. His advocacy for the museum over the course of his career and well into his retirement saw veterinary heritage rightly find its place at the OVC, the oldest veterinary school in Canada and the United States.
Clifford A.V. Barker was born in 1919 in Ingersoll, Ontario. He graduated from the OVC in 1941 and went on to receive an M.Sc. in 1945 from McGill University and a D.V. Sc. in 1948 from the University of Toronto. He practiced large animal medicine and taught at Macdonald College at McGill University before joining the OVC as a faculty member in what is now the Department of Clinical Studies. He spent 39 years as a faculty member at the OVC, retiring in 1984.
Barker was an internationally-recognized authority in the field of animal reproduction and received the Order of Canada for his contributions to the field. A leader in the veterinary profession, he served as president of both the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. At the OVC, he served as president of the OVC Alumni Association and received the OVC Distinguished Alumnus Award.
C.A.V. Barker was passionate about the history of the veterinary profession and believed strongly in its preservation and promotion in Canada. He began acquiring various veterinary artifacts, photographs and other objects throughout his busy teaching and research career and continued this work well into his retirement. Barker acquired many of the museum’s collections himself as well as took donations from the college and alumni and their families. He published numerous articles and books on the subject of veterinary history, including Century One: A History of the Ontario Veterinary Association (1976, co-authored with Dr. Margaret Evans) and One Voice: A History of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (1989, co-authored with Dr. Terry Crowley).
Barker obtained a grant in the early 1980s to properly catalogue the collection which he did with the aid of a small staff. He also opened a museum room in the college (now the C.A.V. Barker Museum Board Room) which school groups and visitors to the college would tour.
Barker passed away in 2002 and custodianship of the collection was taken over by his son, Dr. Ian Barker, himself a faculty member of the Department of Pathobiology and a noted researcher in the field of wildlife pathology.