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Man. cattleman, farm writer Glen Nicoll, 53

Memorial services will be held Saturday at Fraserwood, Man., for Glen Nicoll, a well-known Manitoba farm writer, photojournalist and producer of grass-fed beef cattle.

Nicoll, who had been battling brain cancer since the summer of 2008, died early Monday morning in Edmonton.

Born and raised in Alberta, Nicoll came to Manitoba as a television cameraman and ultimately became a rancher and farm journalist, setting up a herd of grass-fed cattle as well as Country Quarters, a bed-and-breakfast operation near Fraserwood, about 15 km west of Gimli, Man.

From that ranch in the province’s Interlake region, Nicoll became known for experimentation in the production, processing and distribution of grass-fed beef as a participant in a separate company, Prairie Grass Fed Meats.

In recent years, Nicoll also became known as the author of the Manitoba Roundup, a weekly newspaper column in which he travelled to cattle auctions across the province, documenting how sale prices and price ranges corresponded with the conditions, types and weights of animals moving through the ring.

The column began in 1995 in the Manitoba Co-operator, then moved to Farmers Independent Weekly in 2002 and returned to the Co-operator in 2007.

Nicoll, while visiting family in Alberta, was diagnosed in September 2008 with grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive form of brain cancer. His grass-fed herd was dispersed at auction near Winnipeg later that month.

Although not initially expected to leave the hospital in Edmonton after his diagnosis, Nicoll soon returned to the Interlake and continued to produce the Roundup column and other features on a semi-regular freelance basis.

Staff of Farm Business Communications, the publisher of the Co-operator, in late 2008 published “A Prairie Boy’s View,” a 2009 calendar featuring Nicoll’s photography from his travels across rural Manitoba. The run of 1,000 calendars sold out by late January 2009, raising net proceeds of $6,700 for Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.

According to his family, Nicoll last week returned to Alberta for visits to Edmonton and Stettler when his condition worsened. His family again admitted him to hospital in Edmonton, where he died at about 2:30 a.m. Monday.

A memorial for Nicoll has already been scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 4, at Fraserwood’s community hall. “In honour of Glen’s fashion sense,” Nicoll’s family wrote on a Facebook page Monday, “feel free to wear your best denim and plaid.”

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