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The "Wheat Wizard"

For the week of Monday December 9, 2002

On December 15, 1961, Seager Wheeler, arguably the most celebrated farmer from the Canadian prairie provinces, died at the age of 93. Wheeler is recognized as a pioneer in agricultural research and is best known as an international prizewinner in wheat growing competitions. His success popularized the Canadian prairies as a place to live and work, and increased the sale of Canadian wheat worldwide.

Seager Wheeler

Seager Wheeler
© The Seager Wheeler Farm

Born in the United Kingdom, Seager Wheeler emigrated to Saskatchewan in 1885. He eventually settled in Rosthern, where he built Maple Grove Farm. It was here that Wheeler taught himself the mechanics of dry land farming, thus launching himself into the agricultural research community.

In 1904, Wheeler began selectively breeding spring wheat, developing such strains as Red Bobs, Kitchener, and a superior strain of Marquis. His 10B Marquis was adopted by the Canadian Seed Growers Association as the foundation for all registered Marquis. Between the years 1911 and 1918, Wheeler’s hard spring wheat varieties won him an unprecedented five international wheat growing championships, a record that still stands. Scientists, universities and farmers throughout North America and the United Kingdom requested the seeds from his wheat varieties. Wheeler’s work also included the development of horticultural varieties such as the Saskatchewan Crabapple and the Seager Wheeler Rose.

The Seager Wheeler Farm

The Seager Wheeler Farm
© Parks Canada

Wheeler became remarkably successful in scientific agricultural experimentation, a field that had previously been dominated by universities and governments. In 1910, Wheeler became a member of the Canadian Seed Growers Association. He wrote numerous articles for the Grain Growers Guide, leading to his book, Book on Profitable Grain Growing: A Study of Dry-Land Farming, published in 1919. Wheeler’s fame grew and he became known as the “Wheat Wizard of Rosthern” and the “Wheat King,” as he travelled across Saskatchewan delivering lectures. He was the subject of many articles in a variety of Canadian, American and British journals such as Time and Maclean’s. Wheeler received an honorary degree from Queen’s University in 1920 and was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1943. Although best known for his progressive farming techniques, Wheeler was also renowned as a part-time inventor of farm implements, particularly seed cleaning equipment. He retired to Victoria, British Columbia, in 1947.

For his contribution in the development of the Canadian West, Seager Wheeler was designated a person of national historic significance in 1976. Seager Wheeler’s Maple Grove Farm was commemorated in 1994.

For more information on Seager Wheeler and the Seager Wheeler Maple Grove Farm, please see: The Seager Wheeler Farm site.

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