Memorable Manitobans: James Leckie Parker (1896-1995)
Farmer, plant breeder, naturalist, historian.
Born at Larkhall, Scotland on 26 January 1896, son of J. B. Parker and Margaret Leckie, he came to Manitoba with his mother and elder brother to join his father on a farm near Gilbert Plains. He joined the Canadian Seed Growers Association and grew the famous Marquis Wheat. In 1920, he made a selection from Marquis seed and produced a strain which was later known as Parker’s Marquis which proved to have resistance to stem rust. The flour had a yellowish colour but, with continued selection through the years, it resulted in Selkirk wheat by 1953. Two years later, Parker was elected the Robertson Associate life member of the Canadian Seed Growers Association. He retired from farming in 1970 and was made a life member of the Manitoba Institute of Agrologists.
He collected several thousand plant specimens that were donated to several universities, to the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature, and to Kew Gardens in England. He advocated the preservation of a two-section ecological reserve near Cowan, which has now been officially designated by the Province of Manitoba. Parker Bog in the Duck Mountain was named in his honour. He was appointed Associate Curator of the Museum of Man and Nature and was awarded the Seton Medal by the Manitoba Naturalists Society.
He had a longstanding interest in the settlement of the Dauphin area that resulted in weekly set of published articles entitled, “The Fort Dauphin Story.” In 1978, the expanded articles were published in a book of that title. His continued interest in history resulted in a further series which ran in the Gilbert Plains Maple Leaf in 1981. He wrote the histories of several local school districts. He served as Justice of the Peace, Secretary of the Sulphur Creek School Division, Director of the Gilbert Plains Agricultural Society and first president of the Gilbert Plains Historical Society. He was involved in baseball and 4-H clubs, sang in a choir and, for seventy years, was organist for the Gilbert Plains United Church.
In recognition of his service, he received an Ernest Thompson Seton Medal from the Manitoba Naturalists Society (1983) and was inducted into the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame (1995).
He died unmarried at Grandview on 22 June 1995.
Noteworthy Manitobans: James L. Parker by Rosemary Malaher, Manitoba History, Number 18, Autumn 1989.
Obituary, Dauphin Herald, 4 July 1995, page 23.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 30 March 2022