There were 619,636 Canadians enlisted in the First World War, 1,159,000 Canadians served in the Second World War and 26,000 Canadians served in the Korean War.
Among them, about 30 Saskatchewan Agriculture Hall of Fame inductees served with courage, honour and dedication, not only from a sense of duty but also because they wanted to be part of something bigger. Through conversations with the families and associates, as well as archive research, we were able to learn about these people and their lives in agriculture.
The year these individuals were inducted into the Hall is in brackets following their names. Here are some of their stories:
- Harold Charles Moss (1991) served in the First World War and was an internationally recognized soils specialist. He entered service after his father returned home unfit for service, ill with trench fever.
“With Dad home to direct farm operations, I could enlist for war service, as I had been wanting to do for some time,” he wrote.
“So, after the crop was seeded, I took the medical exam and was accepted in the Canadian Engineers at Fort Osborne Barracks, Winnipeg. However, I didn’t get there right away, as the influenza epidemic was very severe and I was ordered to wait until instructed to report for duty.
“I got to Fort Osborne in the summer and joined a squad of recruits. I can easily recall waiting, stark naked in a cold stone room, for medical inspection and inoculations, after which the medical sergeant said, ‘OK kid, now crawl away and die,’ but I enjoyed my brief period in the army.
“Later I went home on harvest leave and while there, the tide of war turned in our favour and the men on leave were told to stay out until recalled.”
The war and his father’s passing shortly afterward affected the family as they struggled to keep farming. Gwenna, his daughter, said the loss of the farm in 1933 led to her father’s pursuit of a career in soil science.
After the war, Moss worked with the Veterans Land Act in selecting land for returning servicemen. He was involved with the Royal Canadian Legion in Saskatoon and sang with the Legion Male Chorus, entertaining veterans and their families.
- James Farquharson (1977) came to Canada after the Second World War, serving in the Merchant Navy Service. His career focussed on seed production and seed growers.
- Frank Eliason (1973) of Wynyard was a Swedish-born immigrant who organized Saskatchewan citizens to aid Finnish and Norwegian people affected by the wars. He was involved in the United Farmers of Canada and consumer cooperatives.
- John Duncan MacFarlane (1979) enlisted in the Royal Canadian Engineers in the First World War, transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and after the war was with Soldier Settlement Board. He then resumed farming.
- John Mitchell (1973) enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and was wounded at the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917. Saskatchewan farmers have benefitted greatly from his shared knowledge and experience with Saskatchewan soils.
- Isidore Charles Nollet (1975) served overseas with the American Expeditionary Force in the First World War. He went on to serve the province politically for more than 20 years including as minister of agriculture.
- James Whitehead (1984) was a well-recognized showman for agricultural products, a seed grower and sheep breeder. He served in the Canadian Army during the First World War.
- James Gilfred Lewthaite (2001) of Redvers, Sask., was born and raised as an agricultural leader. He served in the Canadian Infantry Tank Corps (1942-45). Civic responsibility was key to his personal and professional life. Lewthaite worked well with other people, at home, in his community and his businesses.
Whether he was wearing his father, mayor, community builder or business entrepreneur hats, he was consistent in his approach. Two long-term examples of the success of his actions and the impact on others are the Redvers Care Home and Canadian Western Agribition.
- John Edward Ross Greenshields (1988) was a plant breeder, researcher, extension worker and administrator who served in the Royal Canadian Air Force (1941-45), as a radar set operator stationed in Burma. As a corporal in charge of his unit, Greenshields was a decisive leader who always stood up for his troops. He owned his decisions saying, “I’m the guy carrying the can.”
A competitor before, during and after the war, Ross often quipped that the “best players are people who make other people better” and he took pride in other people doing well whether it was family, friends or professional colleagues.
According to children Malcolm, Mark and Sharon, Greenshields walked the walk of democracy, was open minded, tolerant, interested in and respected people around the world. After the war, he redoubled his efforts to make something of his life and gave back to his country.
- Boyd Anderson (1987) was a sheep rancher and farm organization leader who served with the first Canadian Parachute Battalion in the Second World War. He parachuted into France, was wounded, captured and spent 10 months as a prisoner of war.
- Thomas Victor Beck (2002) began his career as a teacher. After his Second World War service as a navigator in the Royal Canadian Air Force, he joined the provincial agriculture department as weed control specialist.
- Lindsay John Boyes (1997) served in the Royal Canadian Air Force in the Second Word War. His later career included service as provincial agriculture representative, director of that service, founding manager of Grainnews magazine and a farm management specialist.
- William Hugh Cram (1997) was a bomber navigator for the Royal Canadian Air Force, spending his final year as a prisoner of war. Nicknamed Caragana Bill for his research on caragana, he was recognized and celebrated for his extensive efforts in the propagation and planting of trees on prairie farms.
- David H. Heinrichs (2000), following his war service in the Royal Canadian Air Force (1942-45), was the head of forage production and utilization at the Agriculture Canada Research Station in Swift Current. Heinrichs was the leading authority on alfalfa.
- William Horner (1992) served in the Second World War, emerging as a captain in 1946. He spent much of his career as Deputy Minister of Agriculture, followed by an executive advisor position with Grain Handling and Transportation Systems Rationalization.
- Wilbert Earl Johnson (1989) was a well-known scientist and teacher in the realm of soil science. He served with the Canadian Army in the Second World War.
- Mark Kilcher (2003), best known for his work in forage production and management particularly in the Palliser Triangle, was involved in the Second World War Navy Service.
- Robert Patrick Knowles (2006) was globally recognized for his breeding efforts and techniques with perennial forage grasses. He spent 1943-44 as lieutenant in the Canadian Army.
- Henry Elmer Laird (2008) entered the air force in the Second World War prior to the start of his farming career. He was an outspoken champion of organic farming and initiated the Back to the Farm Research Foundation.
- Hugh Duncan McPhail (1999), pioneer flying farmer, served as a Lancaster bomber pilot attached to the Royal Air Force in the Second World War, where he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross. For a time after the war, he was a counsellor with the Veterans Land Administration. McPhail was a pioneer of aerial spraying and aerial photography and taught many farmers how to fly.
- Margaret Pattillo (1990) advised women and youth in areas of consumerism, leadership and women’s issues. In 1943, she enlisted in the air force as a mess officer for military training stations in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
- Robert Howard Daniel Phillips (2009) expanded The Western Producer as Canada’s leading farm newspaper. After serving in the Canadian Army in the Second World War, he worked for various press agencies prior to joining the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool. In 1973, Phillips became publisher of The Western Producer and Western Producer Prairie Books.
- Paul Rivière (1984) joined the Canadian Army in 1942 and returned to the family farm in 1945. Rivière dedicated years to his local and provincial credit union organizations, the French Cooperative movement and the pork industry across Canada.
- David Russell Robinson (1979) served with the Second World War Royal Canadian Artillery. Upon his return, he became a University of Saskatchewan extension horticulturist and encouraged beautification of home grounds and prairie farmsteads. He actively engaged in local and provincial horticultural societies.
- Alexander McInnes Runciman (1982) served five and a half years in the Canadian Army in the Second World War in Great Britain, North Africa, Sicily and Italy. After the war he farmed and dedicated his life to farm organizations, municipal politics and his community.
- Geoffrey M. Strudwick (1998) was a dairy farmer and served in the Royal Canadian Air Force in the Second World War. After the war, he engaged wholeheartedly in the dairy industry, showcasing his premiere herd and his farm as well as serving on industry associations.
- Christian Tyndall Sutter (1988) spent the war years (1941-45) with the air force. After returning to civilian life, he took over the management of his father’s farm, showcasing quality polled Hereford cattle. He was one of the founding fathers of Canadian Western Agribition and became its first president.
- David Lawrence Thomson Smith (1994) enlisted in the Second World War medical corps. Upon his return to Canada, he became founding dean of the Western College of Veterinary medicine, a sustainable collaborative venture for the western provinces and the federal government.
- Alexander James Webster (2001) served in the Second World War Canadian Navy. He went on to have a long career with public service. Throughout his life, he emphasized the importance of working closely with farm families and farm organizations.
- Charles Melville “Red” Williams (1996) joined the Royal Canadian Navy that engaged in the Murmansk convoys and the invasion of France. His colourful career at the University of Saskatchewan included much interaction with farmers at home and abroad.Saskatchewan Agriculture Hall of Fame inductees not only served their country in conflict, but they also spent their lives contributing to the well-being of the nation and its people.