Rudy Wiebe

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Rudy Wiebe

Born (1934-10-04) 4 October 1934 (age 88)
Fairholme, Saskatchewan, Canada
OccupationAuthor, professor
Genrefiction, non-fiction
Tena Isaak
(m. 1958)

Rudy Henry Wiebe OC (born 4 October 1934) is a Canadian author and professor emeritus in the department of English at the University of Alberta since 1992.[1][2] Rudy Wiebe was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in the year 2000.[3]

Early life[edit]

Wiebe was born at Speedwell, near Fairholme, Saskatchewan, in what would later become his family's chicken barn.[4] For thirteen years he lived in an isolated community of about 250 people, as part of the last generation of homesteaders to settle the Canadian west. He did not speak English until age six since Mennonites at that time customarily spoke Low German at home and standard German in church.[5] He attended the small school three miles from his farm and the Speedwell Mennonite Brethren Church. In 1947, he moved with his family to Coaldale, Alberta.[6]

He received his B.A. in 1956 from the University of Alberta and then studied under a Rotary International Fellowship at the University of Tübingen in West Germany, near Stuttgart.[7] In Germany, he studied literature and theology and travelled to England, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. In 1962, he received a Bachelor of Theology degree from Mennonite Brethren Bible College in Winnipeg, now Canadian Mennonite University.


While in Winnipeg, he worked as the editor of the Mennonite Brethren Herald, a position he was asked to leave after the publication of his controversial debut novel Peace Shall Destroy Many (1962), the book that heralded a wave of Mennonite literature in the decades that followed.

Wiebe taught at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana from 1963 to 1967, [8] and taught at the University of Alberta in Edmonton for many decades after that.

In addition to Peace Shall Destroy Many, Wiebe's novels include First and Vital Candle (1966), The Blue Mountains of China (1970), The Temptations of Big Bear (1973), The Scorched-wood People (1977), The Mad Trapper (1980), My Lovely Enemy (1983), A Discovery of Strangers (1994), Sweeter Than All the World (2001), and Come Back (2014). He has also published collections of short stories, essays, and children's books. In 2006 he published a volume of memoirs about his childhood, entitled Of This Earth: A Mennonite Boyhood in the Boreal Forest. His work has explored the traditions and struggles of people in the Prairie provinces, both settlers, often Mennonite, and First Nations people.

Wiebe won the Governor General's Award for Fiction twice, for The Temptations of Big Bear (1973) and A Discovery of Strangers (1994). Thomas King says of The Temptations of Big Bear that "Wiebe captures the pathos and the emotion of Native people at a certain point in their history and he does it well ... Wiebe points out to us that Canada has not come to terms with Native peoples, that there is unfinished business to attend to."[9] Wiebe was awarded the Royal Society of Canada's Lorne Pierce Medal in 1986. In 2000 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. In 2003 Wiebe was a member of the jury for the Giller Prize.

Personal life[edit]

In 1958 he married Tena Isaak, with whom he had two children.[10]




  • Peace Shall Destroy Many, McClelland & Stewart, 1962
  • First and Vital Candle, Eerdmans, 1966
  • The Blue Mountains of China, Eerdmans, 1970
  • The Temptations of Big Bear, McClelland & Stewart, 1973
  • The Scorched-Wood People, McClelland & Stewart, 1977
  • The Mad Trapper, McClelland & Stewart, 1980
  • My Lovely Enemy, McClelland & Stewart, 1983
  • A Discovery of Strangers, A.A. Knopf Canada, 1994
  • Stolen Life: The Journey of a Cree Woman (with Yvonne Johnson), Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 1999
  • Sweeter Than All the World, Vintage Canada, 2002
  • Come Back, Penguin Random House, 2015

Short Stories[edit]

  • Where is the Voice Coming from?, McClelland & Stewart, 1974
  • Alberta, a Celebration (with Harry Savage and Tom Radford), Hurtig Publishers, 1979
  • The Angel of the Tar Sands and Other Stories, McClelland & Stewart, 1982
  • River of Stone: Fictions and Memories, Vintage Books, 1995
  • Another Place, Not Here, Knopf Canada, 1996
  • Collected Stories, 1955–2010, University of Alberta Press, 2010


  • War in the West: Voices of the North-West Rebellion (with Bob Beal), McClelland & Stewart, 1985
  • Playing Dead: A Contemplation Concerning the Arctic, NeWest, 1989
  • Of This Earth: A Mennonite Boyhood in the Boreal Forest, Vintage Canada, 2007
  • Extraordinary Canadians: Big Bear. Toronto: Penguin Group Canada, 2008


  • Far as the Eye can See: A Play, NeWest, 1977

Children's literature[edit]

  • Chinook Christmas, Red Deer Press, 1993
  • Hidden Buffalo, Red Deer Press, 2003


  1. ^ Rudy Wiebe's entry in The Canadian Encyclopedia
  2. ^ Robertson, Heather (10 December 1977). "Western Mystic". Ottawa Citizen. p. 138.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ "Rudy Wiebe honoured with CMU Pax Award". Canadian Mennonite Magazine. 17 April 2019. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  4. ^ "A Conversation with Rudy Wiebe". Image Journal. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  5. ^ Barlan, Jars (1982). Identifications: Ethnicity and the Writer in Canada. Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Study Press. p. 80.
  6. ^ "Rudy Wiebe". Penguin Random House. Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  7. ^ "Rudy Wiebe". Canadian Writers, Athabasca University. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  8. ^ "October 1999 Beck | Mennonite Quarterly Review | Goshen College". Mennonite Quarterly Review. 16 June 1999. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  9. ^ Product Description. 5 November 2010.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ Kertzer, J.M. (1986). "Rudy Wiebe: Biocritical Essay". University of Calgary: Special Collections.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)