Red Fife wheat
Red Fife is a wheat variety that was the baking and milling industries' standard of wheat in Canada from 1860 to 1900. Sent to Peterborough, Ontario farmer David Fife in 1840, it took its name from the seed colour and Fife's name. It is impossible to verify where the wheat originated as grain has moved around the world for many centuries.
There are no native varieties of wheat in Canada.
In 1987 Sharon Rempel planted a "Living Museum of Wheat" at "The Grist Mill at Keremeos", an 1880s living history site in Keremeos B.C. Canada. Heritage varieties included Red Fife, Ladoga, Bishop, Preston, Hard Red Calcutta, Marquis and Stanley. She bulked up seed and shared it with others. Heritage seeds, heritage gardens and landscapes can be considered 'living artifacts'.
Jennifer Scott and organic farmers in the Maritimes began to grow heritage wheats in the mid 1990s. In 1999, Onoway, Alberta farmer Kerry Smith began growing Red Fife and other historic varieties. In 2000, 2001 and 2002, the Alberta Organic Association’s Walter Walchuk, along with Rempel, co-hosted organic heritage wheat field trials throughout Alberta.
Red Fife was nominated to the Slow Food Ark of Taste in 2003 by Mara Jernigan and Sinclair Phillip of Slow Food Canada. This was the first heritage wheat put on the Ark. This is confirmed by Sharon Rempel, the self-proclaimed godmother of Red Fife wheat's revival in Canada.
There are many artisan bakeries using Red Fife wheat in their products.
- Rempel, Sharon. “Red Fife Wheat,” The Canadian Encyclopedia (2009), doi: https://www-thecanadianencyclopedia-ca.cat1.lib.trentu.ca/en/article/red-fife-wheat/