First Professor of Botany
1864 Today is the birthday of the first professor of botany at Smith College, William Francis Ganong ("GAH-nong").
Ganong's family were famous chocolate-makers. In fact, today, Ganong Chocolate is Canada’s oldest independently family-operated chocolate company. Of course, William was supposed to follow in their footsteps, but he instead lost his heart to natural sciences like botany, history, and cartography.
Today, the Ganong name is synonymous with the Canadian province of New Brunswick. It's not only where the chocolate company is located, but it's also where Ganong did the majority of his work. Every year, for fifty years, during the summer months, Ganong would return to New Brunswick to conduct his research
In 2016, historian Ronald Rees, a retired professor, wrote a biography of Ganong. The following year, Ganong was honored for his contributions to the history and geography of New Brunswick. A statue of Ganong was erected on the banks of the St. Croix river - a place he especially loved. The statue's creator remarked,
"He'll be looking up the St. Croix River, which is quite appropriate."