Canola Award of Excellence

The Manitoba Canola Growers Association would like to acknowledge the accomplishments of individuals and organizations who contribute to the sustained growth and prosperity of Manitoba’s canola industry. At MCGA, we have developed an annual award to be given to an individual who has made a contribution to the canola industry. Any individual or organization involved in the growing, production or marketing of canola is eligible to be nominated. Researchers and educators of canola, as well as chefs and media personalities who promote canola are also eligible.

Award Recipients

2018 – Murray McConnell

The meteoric rise of canola all started on a handful of plots in Western Canada with growers like Murray McConnell, recipient of the 2018 Canola Award of Excellence from the Manitoba Canola Growers Association (MCGA).

McConnell farms near Teulon, Manitoba, only about 40 kilometres from where Baldur Stefansson, one of the fathers of modern canola, lived. The McConnell family had been in the seed business since 1938, so it was natural for Stefansson to reach out with his new project in the late 1970s.

“We received canola breeder seed from Stefansson to grow in a seed plot,” says McConnell, 85. “I still have the letter he had sent with the seed and for that reason, I believe that we were one of the earliest seed producers to grow it.”

While McConnell doesn’t recall exactly how that first crop fared, he does remember the amount of work that went into the project.

“We were doing a lot of field testing at that point and I can’t forget the amount of roguing that was required,” he said. “At one point, the Department of Agriculture sent out a dozen people who were learning to be inspectors. They rogued and rogued and I don’t think those boys ever worked harder!”

McConnell continues to farm just under 800 acres in a rotation of canola and wheat. But the McConnell family’s agricultural roots reach back more than a century.

McConnell said it’s sometimes overwhelming to think about the changes in farming during his lifetime.

Previous Award Recipients

2017 – Dr. Carla Taylor

The Manitoba Canola Growers Association has awarded Dr. Carla Taylor with the 2017 Canola Award of Excellence for her contributions to the canola industry. Dr. Taylor, and her collaborator Dr. Peter Zahradka and their team of trainees and staff at the Canadian Centre for Agri-food Research in Health and Medicine, have been researching the health benefits of canola oil for more than a decade.

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2016 – Mairlyn Smith

Mairlyn has been using and promoting canola oil for decades – for very personal reasons. “My dad was diagnosed with heart disease in the 1970’s (age 50) which started me off being interested in the correlation between healthy eating, healthy lifestyle and heart disease.” The diagnosis meant changes in her dad’s diet, including lowering saturated fats by using canola oil – he is now a healthy 93.

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Bruce Dalgarno, Canola Award of Excellence Winner 2016

2015  – Bruce Dalgarno

Visionary, Genuine, Perseverance are a few words to describe Bruce Dalgarno and his commitment to the canola industry. But for Bruce, it’s his passion that drives him to make a difference. His dedication to the canola industry was recognized on February 17, 2015 at Crop Connect in Winnipeg, MB at the gala banquet…

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Dave Hickling

2014  – Dave Hickling

Dr. Dave Hickling was recognized for his work with canola meal. “You’ve heard of that one litre more per cow per day thing? Ya, I came up with that,” says Hickling with a little more than a touch of humility in his voice…

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Ken-Edie2013  – Ken Edie

Ken is a canola pioneer in more ways than one. He was the inaugural president of the Manitoba Canola Growers in 1970, (known as the Manitoba Rapeseed Growers Association at the time) and worked alongside the likes of Bladur Stefansson, to eventually introduce canola, the first variety of rapeseed, to agriculture.

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MJFeeke2012 – Chef MJ Feeke

Chef Mary-Jane Feeke is about to add one more title to her venerable list that already includes pastry chef for Manitoba’s culinary Olympic team, teacher and owner of Benjamin’s Gourmet Foods in Selkirk. 

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Dr. Rachael Scarth2011 – Dr. Rachael Scarth

Dr. Scarth received her doctorate from the University of Cambridge in plant breeding and genetics in 1981. After a post-doctoral fellowship with Agriculture Canada, Dr. Scarth joined the Department of Plant Science at the University of Manitoba. Dr. Scarth worked with Dr. Baldur Stefansson in the canola breeding program from 1982 until his retirement.  

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Charlie Froebe2010 – Charlie Froebe

Charlie was born in Carman, MB on November 27, 1941. He received his grade school in the one room school in Homewood. His secondary schooling was in St. John’s Ravenscourt in Winnipeg and Western Military Academy in Alton, IL, USA. He received his Diploma in Agriculture from the University of Manitoba. 

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Jim Green

2009 – Jim Green

Jim Green is a partner in G-Six Farms Limited, a family farm operation, comprised of brothers Doug and Don and parents Russ and Mona. G-Six Farms produces grains, oilseeds and pulses, and is located 8 miles North-East of Brandon. 

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Dawn Harris2009 – Dawn Harris

Dawn holds a degree in agriculture from the University of Manitoba. Over a 30 year career, she has provided communications consulting services in the field of agriculture to agribusiness and commodity groups. She also managed several farmer associations. Dawn provided consulting services to the Canola Council of Canada for two years before joining the council as its communications co-ordinator. In 1987, she left the position to become the MCGA’s first staff person as executive manager.

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William Max Polon 2009 – William Max Polon

Max Polon holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Degree (Lieutenant Governor’s Gold Medal recipient) from the University of Manitoba. He assumed responsibility for the family farm in 1969 while being employed part-time by the Special Programs Branch of the Manitoba Department of Education. Max began farming full time in 1980 and presently operates the family farm and pedigreed seed business.

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 Dr. Baldur Stefansson2008 – Dr. Baldur Stefansson

During a long and productive career at the University of Manitoba, Dr. Baldur Stefansson made a major contribution to Canada, Canadians, and people around the world through his outstanding work in developing canola. Baldur, often referred to as the “father of canola”, was born at Vestfold, Manitoba, to Gudmundur and Jonina Stefansson, a pioneer Icelandic family. He was a modest individual with a keen sense of purpose.

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Any individual or organization can make a nomination. The process is simple – obtain a nomination form through the MCGA website or by calling 204-982-2122. Each entry must include:

  • Completed nomination entry form
  • Short biographical sketch of the nominee
  • Statements detailing the nominee’s dedication and/or contribution to the canola industry
  • Additional background information which may prove helpful to the judges
  • High quality photograph of the nominee
  • Presentation of this award will take place at the MCGA Annual General Meeting.

For additional information on the Manitoba Canola Growers Association or the Manitoba Canola Growers Award of Excellence, please feel free to contact us by phone (204-982-2122) or email (info@canolagrowers.com).