Just before press time Monday, we learned that Glen Nicoll, a longtime market columnist for the cattle industry in Manitoba, lost his battle with brain cancer early June 29. This is the second tragic loss that we report in this issue – columnist Paul Beingessner died last week in an accident on his farm in Saskatchewan (see page five).
Glen, who would have been 54 in August, was in Alberta visiting family when his condition deteriorated. He passed away in an Edmonton hospital with his wife Susan, his sister Lea, his brother Mark and sister-in-law Sandy by his side.
Glen faced the challenges of his declining health over the past year with the same determination that guided him through life. He never quit.
Less than a week before his death, he was on the phone to this editor discussing his next “cowlumn” – the market report and commentary he prepared for the Manitoba Co-operator weekly until the time of his illness – and less frequently afterwards.
His illness prevented him from driving, but whenever his health allowed Glen was hitching a ride to an auction mart and diligently filing reports with his unique blend of dry wit and jargon that made perfect sense to cattle producers. Glen’s Manitoba Roundup column gave the producers something other reports couldn’t – a first-hand account of how the prices on sale day correlated with knowledgeable descriptions, condition and type of animals moving through the ring.
Producers were not merely given averages based on the highs and lows of the day, they were told precisely how many animals of what type sold at various price ranges.
He logged thousands of kilometres a year travelling to the various auctions around the province, often pausing along the way to photograph rural scenes and wildlife. Some of those photos were assembled into a 2009 calendar to raise funds for Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada late last year. The entire 1,000 copies were sold within weeks with more than $6,000 raised.
When he wasn’t writing, Glen raised grass-fed beef on his Fraserwood-area ranch. Lured to Manitoba by his early career as a television cameraman, the Alberta native was drawn to the Interlake by the availability and affordability of farmland. Glen devoted most of his 20 years in ranching to experimentation with the production, processing and distribution of grass-fed beef.
Glen had high expectations of himself and he inspired the people around him to try harder as a result. He will be deeply missed.
A memorial service will be held at the Fraserwood Hall in Fraserwood at 11 a. m. on Saturday, July 4, 2009. Glen’s family says that no suits are required, and in honour of Glen’s fashion sense, feel free to wear your best denim and plaid.