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Rudy (Henry) Wiebe (1934-) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Sidelights

Born 1934, in Fairholme, Saskatchewan, Canada; Education: University of Alberta, B.A., 1956, M.A., 1960; Mennonite Brethren Bible College, B.Th., 1961; additional study at University of Tübingen, 1957-58, University of Manitoba, 1961, and University of Iowa, 1964. Religion: Mennonite. Hobbies and other interests: Photography, watching people, travel.


Office—Department of English, Humanities Centre 3-5, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2E5, Canada.


Glenbow Foundation, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, research writer, 1956; Government of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, foreign service officer, 1960; high school English teacher, Selkirk, Manitoba, Canada, 1961; Mennonite Brethren Herald, Winnipeg, Manitoba, editor, 1962-63; Goshen College, Goshen, IN, assistant professor of English, 1963-67; University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, assistant professor, 1967-70, associate professor, 1970-76, professor of English, 1976-92, professor emeritus, 1992—. President, NeWest Press, beginning 1989. University of Kiel, Kiel, Germany, chair of Canadian studies, 1984. Member of Arts Panel, Canadian Council, 1974-77; member of writers advisory committee to Alberta Ministry of Culture, 1980-82; member of federal cultural policy review committee, 1981-84, and Alberta Foundation for the Literary Arts, 1984-87.


Royal Society of Canada.

Honors Awards

Rotary International fellow, 1957-58; Canada Council bursary, 1964, and senior arts award, 1971; Governor General's Award for Fiction, 1973, for The Temptations of Big Bear, 1994, for A Discovery of Strangers; Province of Alberta and City of Edmonton Arts Achievement Awards, 1974, 1975; D.Litt., University of Winnipeg, 1986; Lorne Pierce Medal for contribution to Canadian literature, Royal Society of Canada, 1987. Rudy Wiebe D.Litt., Wilfred Laurier University, 1991; LL.D., Brock University, 1991; admitted to Edmonton Cultural Hall of Fame, 1995.



Chinook Christmas, illustrated by David More, Northern Lights/Red Deer Press, 1992, published with new illustrations, 2003.

Hidden Buffalo, illustrated by Davide Lonechild, Red Deer Press, 2003.


Peace Shall Destroy Many, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1962, revised edition, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 1964.

First and Vital Candle, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 1966.

The Blue Mountains of China, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 1970.

The Temptations of Big Bear, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1973.

Riel and Gabriel, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1973.

The Scorched-Wood People, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1977.

The Mad Trapper, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1980, reprinted, Red Deer Press, 2002.

My Lovely Enemy, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1983.

A Discovery of Strangers, Knopf (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1994.

Sweeter than All the World, Knopf (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2001.


Where Is the Voice Coming From?, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1974.

Alberta: A Celebration, photographs by Harry Savage, edited by Tom Radford, Hurtig (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), 1979.

The Angel of the Tar Sands, and Other Stories, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1982.

River of Stone: Fictions and Memories, Vintage Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1995.


The Story-Makers: A Selection of Modern Short Stories, Macmillan (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1970.

Stories from Western Canada, Macmillan (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1972.

(With Andreas Schroeder) Stories from Pacific and Arctic Canada, Macmillan (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1974.

Double Vision, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1976.

Getting Here, NeWest Press (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), 1977.

(With Aritha van Herk) More Stories from Western Canada, Macmillan (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1980.

(With Aritha van Herk and Leah Flater) West of Fiction, NeWest Press (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), 1983.


(With Theatre Passe Muraille) As Far as the Eye Can See (play), NeWest Press (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), 1977.

(And compiler with Bob Beal) War in the West: Voices of the 1885 Rebellion (history), McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1985.

Playing Dead: A Contemplation concerning the Arctic (essays), McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1989.

Silence, the Word, and the Sacred: Essays, Wilfred Laurier (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada), 1989.

(With Yvonne Johnson) Stolen Life: The Journey of a Cree Woman (nonfiction), Knopf (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1998.

(With Geoffrey James) Place: Lethbridge, A City on the Prairie, Douglas & McIntyre (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2002.

Work represented in anthologies, including Fourteen Stories High, edited by David Helwig, Oberon Press (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), 1971; The Narrative Voice, edited by John Metcalf, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY), 1972; Modern Stories in English, edited by W. H. New and H. J. Rosengarten, Crowell (New York, NY), 1975; Personal Fictions, edited by Michael Ondaatje, Oxford University Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1977; and Wild Rose Country: Stories from Alberta, edited by David Carpenter, Oberon Press, 1977. Contributor of articles and short stories to periodicals, including Fiddle-head, Tamarack Review, Camrose Review, Canadian Literature, Maclean's, Saturday Night, and The Bote.


"Someday Soon" was adapted for television by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC), January, 1977.


In addition to adult fiction that explores his personal religious beliefs, modern society, and the traditional values and character of western Canada, novelist Rudy Wiebe has authored several books for children. The Canadian writer's first children's book, 1992's Chinook Christmas, was praised by Canadian Children's Literature contributor Perry Nodelman as "a sort of prairie version of Dylan Thomas's sensuously evocative Child's Christmas in Wales." His 2003 picture book, Hidden Buffalo, focuses on Cree native Sky Running, a young hunter who helps his tribe to find buffalo during a time of famine after listening to his grandmother recite tales of the Creator and how the first buffalo came to be. Wiebe has earned two of his country's most prestigious literary awards, the Governor General's Award and the Lorne Pierce medal, for his portrayal of the people who inhabit the prairie lands of western Canada.

Wiebe grew up in Saskatchewan, north of Saskatoon, and was the youngest member of an ethnic German family of seven children whose homesteading parents had emigrated from Russia. He spoke only German until he went to elementary school, and he eventually attended a Mennonite high school and the University of Alberta in Edmonton, where he later taught. Much of Wiebe's writing focuses on the northern regions where he was raised, particularly Arctic culture. One of his novels that critics have found appropriate for teen readers is 1980's The Mad Trapper, which explores the growing impact of technology on northern culture and man's vital yet fragile relationship with the land. Taking place in the 1930s near the Rat River, The Mad Trapper is based on a true story about Albert Johnson, a man who refused to cease using trap lines reserved for Native Canadians, fled into the northern woods, and, after an extensive manhunt, was killed resisting arrest.

Biographical and Critical Sources


Cameron, Donald, Conversations with Canadian Novelists, Macmillan (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1973, pp. 146-160.

Contemporary Literary Criticism, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 6, 1976, Volume 11, 1979, Volume 14, 1980.

Contemporary Novelists, 7th edition, St. James (Detroit, MI), 2001.

Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 60: Canadian Writers since 1960, Second Series, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1987.

Moss, John, editor, The Canadian Novel: Here and Now, NC Press, 1978.

Twigg, Alan, For Openers: Conversations with Twenty-four Canadian Writers, Harbour, 1981, pp. 207-218.


Books in Canada, summer, 1994, p. 39; September, 1998, p. 6.

Canadian Book Review Annual, 1998, p. 383.

Canadian Children's Literature, fall, 1994, p. 77.

Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal, spring, 2002, Kenneth Hoeppner, review of Sweeter than All the World, p. 157.

Canadian Forum, January, 1968; December, 1977; December, 1980, p. 42; March, 1981, pp. 5-8, 13; May, 1983; p. 29; January, 1990, p. 30; October, 1994, p. 43; April, 1995, p. 20.

Canadian Literature, summer, 1974; winter, 1975; summer, 1978, pp. 42-63; spring, 1985, pp. 7-22; spring, 1990, p. 320; winter, 2000, pp. 10, 154.

Commonweal, December 7, 2001, p. 21.

Essays on Canadian Writing, winter, 1980-81, pp. 134-148; summer, 1983, pp. 70-73; spring, 1998, p. 113.

Globe & Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), June 27, 1998, Olive Patricia Dickason, "Big Bear's Spirit Provides Healing Light; Stolen Life: The Journey of a Cree Woman"; May 22, 1999, p. D14; June 19, 1999, p. D17.

Maclean's, May 30, 1994, p. 45; July 13, 1998, "Native Connection: A Writer and Convicted Murderer Tells Her Story," p. 64.

Quill and Quire, December, 1992, p. 26; April, 1994, p. 26; July, 1998, Suzanne Methot, review of Stolen Life: The Journey of a Cree Woman, p. 30.

Resource Links, October, 1999, p. 20; June, 2003, Lori Lavallee, review of The Mad Trapper, p. 37.

Rubicon, summer, 1986, pp. 126-159.

Saturday Night, April, 1971, p. 26; February, 1974, p. 33.

World Literature Today, summer, 1999, p. 575.


Random House Canada Web site, http://www.randomhouse.ca/ (May 16, 2003).

Swallow Press Web site, http://www.ohiou.edu/oupress/ (May 16, 2003).*

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