Upon his death, William Fairfield was declared “Southern Alberta’s best known pioneer and moving spirit in agriculture trail blazing,” a tribute he greatly deserved.
Born in Pennsylvania, William received his Bachelor of Science in 1894 and his Masters of Science in 1898. From 1895 to 1901, he was assistant professor of agriculture at the University of Wyoming. In 1901 he was hired by Elliott Galt to develop the Model Farm in Lethbridge. The Model Farm was designed to show people how to farm in the semi-arid environment of southern Alberta as well as to be a showcase to encourage farmers to move to the area.
In 1906 the federal government took over the operation of the farm and Fairfield became the 1st Superintendent of the Research Station. He retired from the post in 1945.
It would take too long to list all of the honours Fairfield received but among his many are the Order of the British Empire (1943), honourary doctorate from the University of Alberta (1940), fellowship in the Agricultural Institute of Canada (1961), and induction into the Alberta Agricultural Hall of Fame (posthumous 1974).