Funeral services will be held Wednesday at Birch Hills, Sask. for farm equipment inventor, seed grower and long-time Grainews columnist Harvey Gjesdal.
Gjesdal, who died Friday at Birch Hills at age 92, was prominent for decades among Prairie farmers, in part for patents on equipment still in widespread use today, including the Gjesdal “Five-in-One” rotary seed cleaner (1979) and rotary snow blower (1948).
Beyond his inventions, Gjesdal also represented Prairie certified seed growers, farmers and neighbours on boards including those of the Canadian Seed Growers Association (CSGA), the Winnipeg Commodity Exchange (now ICE Futures Canada) and the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities.
Gjesdal was also reeve of the RM of Birch Hills for eight years, represented area farmers on local committees of Saskatchewan Wheat Pool and United Grain Growers (now both part of Viterra) and served on farmer advisory boards for Farm Credit Corp. (now Farm Credit Canada) and the Canadian Wheat Board (now CWB).
“In spite of only achieving a Grade 8 education, he developed a reputation as an extraordinary inventor and mechanical genius, and became one of the most respected seed growers in Canada,” Gjesdal’s family wrote in his obituary Monday in Saskatoon’s Star Phoenix.
Born Joseph Harvey Gjesdal in 1922, he began farming at Birch Hills in 1947 and by 1981 was named a Robertson associate, the highest honour presented by the CSGA.
His farming advice and anecdotes, in matters both practical and mechanical, found a home in Grainews, where his regular column, “A grain farmer’s diary,” appeared from 1976 to 2004.
Accolades for Gjesdal from farmers and the Canadian public included induction into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame and Saskatchewan Agriculture Hall of Fame, both in 1992. He was also inducted that year as a member of the Order of Canada, in which he was invested in April the following year.
Gjesdal’s citation for the Order of Canada described him as “one of Canada’s most respected seed growers,” noting he was “deeply involved in farm policy matters and his counsel is widely sought by agricultural and governmental organizations.”
He received a Canadian Centennial Medal in 1967 and more recently was presented in 2012 with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, one of 60,000 given to “outstanding Canadians of all ages and from all walks of life.” [Related story]
Gjesdal was also named an honorary member of the Agricultural Institute of Canada (1986) and Saskatchewan Institute of Agrologists (1983) and earned a Master Farm Family Award in 1967.
The memorial service for Gjesdal will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday (June 25) at Birch Hills Lutheran Church at 428 Bellamy Ave.