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Memorable Manitobans: William Esmond Jarvis (1931-2004)

Agriculturalist, civil servant.

Born at Gladstone in 1931, one of seven children of Fredrick and Dorothy Jarvis, he attended Palestine School and Gladstone High School. He graduated from the University of Manitoba in Agriculture (1955) and from Michigan State University (1960) with a Masters degree in animal husbandry. He worked for 12 years with the Manitoba Department of Agriculture, beginning at Swan River as an Agricultural Representative. In 1956, he returned to Winnipeg as a Dairy Cattle Specialist in the Livestock Branch. In 1958, he was appointed Assistant Livestock Commissioner for Manitoba. This was followed by his appointment as Livestock Commissioner in 1960. He was appointed Acting Assistant Deputy Minister in 1961 and Deputy Minister of Agriculture in 1962. At the age of 31, he was the youngest person ever to hold this post. Two of his major contributions in this position were the establishment of the Manitoba Crop Insurance Program and the Hog Marketing Commission.

In 1967, he joined Agriculture Canada in Ottawa to spend ten years first as Assistant then as Associate Deputy Minister of Agriculture and also with the Grains Group. In 1977 he returned to Winnipeg to serve as Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Wheat Board (1977-1990). In 1990, he was appointed Canada’s High Commissioner to New Zealand and five neighbouring South Pacific countries, and Ambassador to Fiji. Upon his retirement, he remained in New Zealand, returning in 2003 to Canada to live in retirement on Lake of the Woods.

He was awarded the University of Manitoba Distinguished Alumni Award and, in 2006, was inducted into the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame.

He died of cancer at Kenora, Ontario on 30 December 2004.


Citation, Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 3 January 2005.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 19 July 2019

Memorable Manitobans

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