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Alberta Online Encyclopedia


Rudy Wiebe

Rudy Wiebe was born in 1934 in Saskatchewan. His parents were Mennonites who had come to Canada in 1934 to escape from Soviet Russia. When he was twelve, Wiebe moved with his family to Coaldale, Alberta. Although Wiebe spoke only Low German until he was six years old, his skill with the English language did not suffer. He earned his BA from the University of Calgary, his MA from the University of Alberta, and a bachelor of theology from the Canadian Mennonite Brethren Bible College in Manitoba. His first novel, Peace Shall Destroy Many, was published in 1962. Since then, Wiebe has written numerous books and has been a professor at various universities, finally returning to the English Department at the University of Alberta. Wiebe’s novel The Temptations of Big Bear won the Governor General’s Award in 1973. He was Founding President of the Writers Guild of Alberta and was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Sylvia Rempel

Sylvia Rempel founded the ski wear clothing company Sun Ice Ltd. in 1978. Sun Ice Ltd. was very successful and became the official clothing supplier to the 1988 Calgary Olympic Games. Her company later diversified to produce rainwear, golf wear, and children’s outer wear. Rempel served as Chairman, President, and CEO of Sun Ice Ltd. until 2004. After retiring, she began teaching sewing to war widows in Sierra Leone in Africa. She was also asked by the Humanitarian Aid Response Teams in Calgary to share her sewing skills with needy people in the Ukraine.

Leonard Ratzlaff

Leonard Ratzlaff was born in 1949 in Swalwell to Mennonite parents who immigrated to Canada after World War II. Music, especially singing, is an important part of Mennonite culture, and Ratzlaff was encouraged by his family to develop his voice. After studying music at the Mennonite Brethren College in Winnipeg and the University of Iowa, Ratzlaff became a professor of music at the University of Alberta. He later became Chair of the Department of Music. Under his guidance, the University of Alberta’s choral conducting graduate program has grown to be the largest in Canada. Ratzlaff is the conductor of the University of Alberta Madrigal Singers and the Richard Eaton Singers, both renowned choirs. Ratzlaff has been instrumental in promoting choral excellence in Alberta and has served as a volunteer with numerous choral associations. He is also the recipient of many awards and is a member of the Alberta Order of Excellence and the Order of Canada.

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