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Memorable Manitobans: Peter Macdonald Abel (1890-1952)

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Peter Macdonald Abel
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Born at Parimaribo, Dutch Guiana on 5 May 1890, son of John Smith Abel and Isabella Pells, he moved to the United States at the age of 6 following the death of his father. He lived at Cambridge, Massachusetts for ten years before coming to Canada. He homesteaded at Earl Grey, Saskatchewan for three years then enrolled in the Manitoba Agricultural College, graduating in 1913. He then did postgraduate work at the University of Missouri. He was Assistant Editor of the Farm and Ranch Review at Calgary, Alberta then taught at the newly established Claresholm Agricultural College for two years.

During the First World War, he served in the Army Service Corps, enlisting as a private. He was twice mentioned in dispatches and ended the war as a Captain. He returned from overseas in 1919 and, on 10 September 1919, married Mary Ethelyn Eneta Knight (1895-1983), who he had met at Claresholm. They would eventually have four children: John Knight “Jack” Abel (1920-1980), Murray Keith Abel (1926-2013), Peter Macdonald Abel (1928-2006), and Mary Ethelyn “Lyn” Abel (wife of Bill Thompson). He was appointed Livestock Editor of the Grain Growers’ Guide. Renamed The Country Guide in 1928, he became its editor in 1934. He rejoined the army in 1940, during the Second World War, and served in the London headquarters of the Canadian Army, with the rank of Colonel, as assistant director of quartering and troop movement. In 1944, he was awarded the Order of the British Empire. He returned to Canada and resumed his editorial duties, continuing to his death.

He died at Winnipeg on 3 July 1952 and was buried in the Brookside Cemetery.


Attestation papers, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Library and Archives Canada.

“Col. Peter MacDonald Abel, Country Guide editor dies,” Winnipeg Free Press, 3 July 1952. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B10]

Obituary [John Knight Abel], Winnipeg Free Press, 24 April 1980, page 89.

Obituary [Mary Ethelyn Abel], Winnipeg Free Press, 6 October 1983, page 58.

Obituary [Peter Macdonald Abel], Winnipeg Free Press, 7 October 2006, page 43.

We thank Kerry Abel for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 17 October 2016

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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