Martin Burrell was born in Faringdon, England before moving to Canada. He was a fruit farmer in Niagara, Ont. before ending up in British Columbia where he continued growing fruit.
At one point, his farm was the largest apple tree nursery in the province.
Prime Minister Robert Borden appointed Burrell as his minister of agriculture in 1911. Burrell held that position until 1917.
As ag minister, Burrell implemented the Agricultural Instruction Act in 1913. The law offered $10 million to the provinces over a 10-year period to establish and improve ag education and training.
The Municipal Testing Order of 1914 licensed dairies and encouraged communities to test dairy cattle every two years for bovine TB. An Act Respecting Livestock of 1917 allowed the minister to supervise the management, fees charged and conditions of public stockyards.