of Alberta


June 3, 1926 – Colonsay, Saskatchewan
May 31, 2018 – Calgary, Alberta

John Wiebe of Calgary, AB, passed away on Thursday, May 31, 2018 at the age of 91 years.

John, the middle child in a family of nine, was the first one born on Canadian soil after his parents immigrated in 1926. He grew up in the Saskatoon area and then went to Guelph, Ontario, to study agriculture where he earned a B.S.A. He received his M.S. in 1953 and Ph.D in 1955, both from Cornell University in New York.

In 1947, he married Elsie and they had six children. He was predeceased by Elsie in 2010. He was father to Harvey d. 2001 (Lorraine), Stanley d. 1972, Martha d. 2006, Paul, Tom (Carolyn), and Marianne (Michael); grandfather to thirteen; and great-grandfather to five.

In 1955, he was employed as a Research Scientist at the Horticultural Experiment Station, Vineland, Ontario. Dr. Wiebe had a close working relationship with growers in the Niagara Peninsula. His main interests were in vegetable and grape research, including fertility, plant breeding and plant physiology. He authored or co-authored about 50 publications dealing primarily with vegetable production. One particular publication, the Grape Climatic Zone Map, formed the basis for many subsequent studies of grape site suitability throughout the Niagara Peninsula. In 1967, he received a leave of absence and spent two years with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, assigned to Cairo, Egypt with the whole family.

After working for 22 years in Vineland, Ontario, he returned to the west in 1977 as Director of the Horticultural Experiment Station, Brooks Alberta. In 1983, he and Elsie moved to Edmonton where he directed the Plant Industry division of the Department of Agriculture. He enjoyed dealing with crop-related issues as he travelled throughout the province.

At the age of 61 he retired from his professional life but he was not ready to quit working so he sought out projects where he could apply his expertise. For projects related to agriculture and water development, he went to India, Ghana and Dominica with Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). There was also work in Mexico with Mennonite Central Committee as well has five projects in northern China where he was able to establish better quality vegetable production. Together John and Elsie lived and worked in Egypt a second time, Tanzania and El Salvador.

He held leadership positions in the church and community and in retirement spent every Monday at the MCC Thrift Shop in Calgary, repairing computers and sewing machines and often would take home old jeans to be cut into squares that the store sells to quilters.

To keep his hand in agriculture he would often help out family and friends with gardening issues as well as dead wood removal and pruning.

Funeral Services will be held at Highland Mennonite Brethren Church (4018 Centre B Street N.W., Calgary, AB) on
Saturday, June 9, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. Graveside Service to follow reception at Queen’s Park Cemetery.