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About the Museum

The Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) at the University of Guelph holds a national treasure within its walls. One of the only collections of its kind in the world, the Barker Veterinary Museum, known formally as the C.A.V. Barker Museum of Canadian Veterinary History, reflects the deep and diverse history of our relationship with animals through the long history of veterinary medicine in Canada.

The museum is located at the OVC at the University of Guelph. At this time, the best way to engage with the museum is through this website. Anyone wishing to access the collection or information about veterinary history is asked to contact the museum’s curator, Dr. Lisa Cox.

Main OVC Building and Infirmary
(Credit: C.A.V. Barker Collection, Archival & Special Collections, University of Guelph Library)

Beginnings: Dr. C.A.V. Barker

The Barker Veterinary Museum’s origins lay with Dr. C.A.V. Barker (1919-2002), a longtime faculty member of the OVC in what is now the Department of Clinical Studies. A noted animal reproduction researcher, he was also keenly interested in the history of the veterinary profession in Canada and felt that its heritage should be preserved and promoted. He would go on to build the collection from the late 1940’s until his passing in 2002.
More information about the museum’s founder, Dr. C.A.V. Barker, can be found here.

2011: A New Era for the Barker Veterinary Museum

In 2011, a project was undertaken to redevelop the Barker Veterinary Museum ahead of the OVC’s 150th anniversary in 2012. Supported by the Dean’s Office under Dr. Elizabeth Stone, the museum’s current curator, Lisa Cox, was hired. Working alongside Dr. Ian Barker, the collection – which by 2011 contained a number of additional objects deposited over the years – was taken out of storage and reassessed.

At the conclusion of the 150th anniversary celebrations, it was decided to continue to develop the museum’s collections. Recognizing its importance to the veterinary profession and Canadian history, the museum has once again become part of the fabric of the OVC and the University of Guelph. New artifacts have been acquired, display space within the college has been increased, and partnerships and outreach have been developed within the University of Guelph and with community partners. Furthermore, the Barker Veterinary Museum has become a unique and active part of experiential learning for undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Guelph.

The Barker Veterinary Museum Today

The Barker Veterinary Museum’s holdings today, numbering over 10,000 objects, reflect over 200 years of veterinary science in Canada. The museum contains a rich variety of instruments, pharmaceuticals, teaching and research equipment, student notebooks and ephemera, as well as photographs, books and other archival material.

Building on the legacy left by Dr. C.A.V. Barker, the museum continues to build its holdings in the areas of veterinary education, veterinary practice, and the service of veterinarians in a number of service roles such as the military and public health.