Robert L. Peters

24 June 2009

An aggie salute | Peter J. Peters

peter_jacob_peters_1945.jpg

Portage la Prairie, Manitoba

The Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame has officially announced its inductees for 2009—among the nine individuals “judged to have made a significant and lasting contribution to agriculture in Manitoba within their lifetimes” is my dad’s older brother, my ‘Uncle Pete,’ Peter Jacob Peters, now 95. He’ll be giving a 5-minute speech (though he insists he needs 20 :-) at 1:30pm on 16 July at a ceremony open to the public at the William Glesby Center (11-2nd St. NE) in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.

Peter J. Peters immigrated to Canada from the Ukraine with his family at age eleven (when my father was six). He took his schooling at Gretna in Southern Manitoba, and later enrolled in teacher training. At the outbreak of World War II, Pete enlisted in the RCAF—upon his eventual return from overseas service he attained his BSc. in Agriculture. Following graduation, he worked with the Extension Service of Manitoba Agriculture as a potato specialist (where he became known as “Potato Pete” to those in the field)—among other significant achievements he is credited with paving the way for the commercial potato industry in Manitoba. He also applied himself to the Strawberry Experimental Demonstration program at Hadashville in Eastern Manitoba, and as a direct result of his efforts, the Strawberry Growers Association of Manitoba came into being. Pete served as Secretary-Treasurer of the Manitoba Horticultural Association, was President of the Western Canadian Society for Horticulture, revitalized the periodical The Prairie Gardener, and wrote and published A Century of Horticulture in Manitoba. Aside from his horticultural pursuits, Pete is also a prolific poet (with too many published books to list here) and was active throughout his adult life in church and community activities, renowned for his entertaining hundreds with his photography-poetry-musical presentations.

Photo: Peter J. Peters in 1945 (while requisitioned to serve as a tri-lingual interpreter at the Nuremberg Trials after the war [on account of his fluency in Russian, German, and English]—a time he prefers not to speak about to this day). Thanks to my brother Jim for the scan from an old photographic print.

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