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Ralph Erdman

Ralph Erdman’s graduation photo from the University of Alberta, 1936. Ralph Erdman (1913-2006) was the son of Gustav and Magda Erdman. Gustav was born in Targhan, Crimea during a period of economic hardship and political instability. Ralph was the grandson of Jakob and Mari Erdman, one of the first pioneer families to settle in Barons, Alberta.

Ralph was born in a quaint house on the Erdman farm near Barons, Alberta. In 1917 Gustav built a splendid Victorian-style house complemented by a large veranda, balconies and a pool table on the seocnd floor. The large spacious home was able to accommodate the large family and host a variety of Estonian gatherings. When Ralph was younger he travelled to school by horse and carriage, eager to learn the English language. After he completed high school, Ralph wanted to continue his education. He graduated from the University of Alberta in 1933 with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. Five years later he completed a Master's degree.

Ralph Erdman, World Wheat Growing Champion, 1961.He won the crown at the Royal Agricultural  Winter Fair in Toronto In 1947, Ralph accepted a two-year position as a soils specialist at the Lethbridge Research Station. He also worked as the municipal assessor for the Municipal District of Willow Creek until 1971. On 11 January 1950 he married Karen Suitso, also of Estonian descent. In fact, Ralph was the only one of his siblings to marry someone of Estonian heritage. He and Karen moved to Lethbridge in the late 1940s. In 1961 when Ralph submitted a spectacular Stewart durum, a macaroni flour type of spring wheat, he was crowned the World Wheat champion at the Royal Agriculture Winter Fair in Toronto.

Because Ralph had been an avid member of the North American Bluebird Society, the Kiwanis Club and the Lethbridge Historical Society, he remained active in Lethbridge during his retirement. He continued to preserve his close ties with his Estonian heritage and with the community of Barons, often returning for family reunions. He passed away in Lethbridge on 27 November, 2006.

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