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Memorable Manitobans: George Friesen (1926-2008)

Weed scientist.

Born near St. Francois Xavier on 11 December 1926, he grew up in the Elm Creek, Pigeon Lake and Marquette areas where his family farmed. He attended local schools including Wingham and George Herbert. After graduating from Mennonite Collegiate Institute in Gretna in 1946, he entered the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Manitoba. In 1950, he began a Master’s degree in weed science in its Department of Plant Science. He continued his studies and obtained a PhD from Washington State University (Pullman, WA) in 1956.

He was a professor of weed science at the University of Manitoba, Faculty of Agriculture until 1968 where he developed new weed control strategies. He was invited to speak at conferences around the world and earned the nickname “Weedy Friesen”. He served many years in India, which adopted his 15 point program of research and technology transfer which would increase food production. He also served on other short term assignments in Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Pakistan, and Ukraine. He joined the Research Branch of Agriculture Canada in 1974 and served first at the Harrow Research Station (Ontario) then at the Morden Research Station until his retirement in 1991. He wrote the book 50 Years With Weeds.

He served as President of the Weed Science Society, President of the Manitoba Agronomists, Chair of the Canadian Expert Committee on Weeds, President of the Campus Credit Union Society and Chairman of Christian Investors in EducationHe received the 1989 Excellence in Weed Science Research Award, the Outstanding Service Award by the International Weed Science Society and he was made a Fellow of the Weed Science Society of America in 1988.

He died on 22 March 2008.


Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 27 March 2008.

“Manitobans’ Legacy a Better Province,” Winnipeg Free Press, 4 January 2009, page B2.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 28 March 2016

Memorable Manitobans

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