Lois Elsa Hole (1998–2000)
With infectious warmth, she always spoke from the heart in a language everyone understood. Affectionately called "Alberta's Rose," by President Rod Fraser, she was one of the most popular and beloved ambassadors the University of Alberta ever had.
Lois Elsa Hole was born in Buchanan, Saskatchewan and moved to Edmonton in her teens, where she attended Strathcona Composite High School. For the last 50 years of her life, she lived on a farm on the Sturgeon River north of St Albert, which she and her husband Ted diversified into a thriving vegetable and mixed garden business. Their sons joined the business in 1979, and it was incorporated as Hole’s Greenhouses and Gardens, Ltd.
Hole was elected a trustee for the Sturgeon School Division in 1967, when she began to champion lifelong learning. She served 14 years in the Division as trustee and chair before serving on the board of St Albert School District #6, and then the Athabasca University Governing Council from 1972 to 1983. In 1998, she was elected sixteenth chancellor of the University of Alberta.
Hole was a tireless supporter of the arts, libraries, and education, contributing to them through a number of programs, such as the Lois Hole Library Program, the Alberta School Boards Association “Lois Hole Lecture Series”, and the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards Program.
She also wrote six books on gardening, all of them Canadian bestsellers, as well as a collection of memoirs, photographs, and gardening advice called I’ll Never Marry a Farmer. She gave hundreds of talks on gardening to thousands of people across North America, wrote columns for the Edmonton Journal, Globe and Mail, and Edmonton Sun, and appeared regularly on the “Grapevine” segment of CBC Television’s Canadian Gardener.
Hole was the recipient of numerous awards and honours, including membership in the Order of Canada; the Gandhi, King, Ikeda Humanitarian Award; and honorary degrees from the Universities of Alberta, Calgary, and Lethbridge and from Olds College.
Hole passed away in January 2005 after a long battle with cancer. She was 71.