William Allen was born in England, near Bristol, in 1892 and immigrated to Canada with his family in 1911, taking out a homestead at Smiley, Saskatchewan. This photo of him was taken a year before the creation of the University of Saskatchewan (1907).
He joined the army in 1915, was wounded at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and sent to the Beaufort War Hospital to recuperate.
The Great War exacted a heavy toll on the university. Of the 345 students, faculty and staff who enlisted, 69 "passed out of the sight of man by the path of duty and self-sacrifice." More than 100 more were wounded and 33 were awarded medals of valour. The College of Engineering closed its doors for the 1916-1917 session when the faculty and students enlisted.
Discharged in 1917, Allen enrolled at the University of Saskatchewan as an associate student in agriculture, transferring to the degree course and graduating in 1922. His studies took him to Harvard and Cornell Universities, and he earned a PhD in 1925. He returned to USask organizing and serving as the first head of the Department of Farm Management.
He resigned in 1938 to accept the position of the first Commissioner to Britain for Canadian Agriculture. In 1941, while enroute to England, he lost his life at sea when the steamship Nerissaa he was on was torpedoed.
The Allen Memorial Prize is awarded annually to the top graduating student in agricultural economics. He is also memorialized with a plaque in Convocation Hall, which reads in part: “His sincere, manly character inspired the respect of many friends, especially the farmers of Saskatchewan for whom he did so much.”