Early canola promoter Gordon Graham, 89

(Photo courtesy Graham family)

A memorial is to be held in June in Brandon for a Prairie farmer who helped lead the charge on adoption of rapeseed as a crop, as it morphed into today’s canola.

Gordon Graham, who farmed near Newdale, Man., about 75 km north of Brandon, died Wednesday at age 89 in Cochrane, Alta.

Graham, an elite seed grower and seed plant operator, and a graduate of the University of Manitoba’s agriculture diploma program, served as president of what was then the Manitoba Rapeseed Growers Association in the mid-1970s.

From 1975 to 1978, Graham’s advocacy for rapeseed went national, when he became the first grower representative to chair what was then known as the Rapeseed Association of Canada.

Graham, also a long-time member of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers, “vigorously supported the introduction of rapeseed and its transformation into modern canola as a free enterprise option for farmers,” his family said in his obituary.

For his contributions to the canola industry, Graham in 1988 was awarded a lifetime membership in the national rapeseed association, which in 1980 had rebranded as the Canola Council of Canada.

Graham also became one of 28 people to be nominated by the Canola Council to receive the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. He received his medal in Cochrane in 2013.

After selling their Manitoba farm, Graham and his wife Pat — a home economist and former Grainews columnist — retired to Cochrane, wintered in Florida and travelled throughout North America by RV.

Graham, his family said, “was never happier when he was on the road heading for a new destination.”

Details for a memorial service for Graham haven’t yet been finalized, but donations may be made in his memory to the Cochrane Warm Water Therapy Pool Society. — AGCanada.com Network

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