Rudy Wiebe

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Rudy Wiebe

Born (1934-10-04) 4 October 1934 (age 86)
Fairholme, Saskatchewan, Canada
OccupationAuthor, professor
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]


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 at Church.[5] He attended the small school three miles from his farm and the Speedwell Mennonite Brethren Church.

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.[6] 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, where he wrote his first novel. While in Winnipeg, he also 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.

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.

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."[7]

The Canadian Encyclopedia describes My Lovely Enemy as "a daring, experimental book involving a radical theology of love."[8]

Wiebe taught at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana from 1963 to 1967, and he has travelled widely.[9] He is deeply committed to the literary culture of Canada and has shown a particular interest in the traditions and struggles of people in the Prairie provinces, both settlers 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). He 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]



  • Collected Stories, 1955–2010.
  • Of This Earth: A Mennonite Boyhood in the Boreal Forest
  • River of Stone: Fictions and Memories
  • Sweeter Than All the World
  • Fruits of the Earth
  • Peace Shall Destroy Many
  • First and Vital Candle
  • My Lovely Enemy
  • A Discovery of Strangers
  • The Blue Mountains of China
  • Stolen Life: The Journey of a Cree Woman (with Yvonne Johnson)
  • Playing Dead: A Contemplation Concerning the Arctic
  • War in the West: Voices of the North-West Rebellion (with Bob Beal)
  • The Temptations of Big Bear
  • The Scorched-Wood People
  • The Mad Trapper
  • Come Back


  1. ^ Rudy Wiebe's entry in The Canadian Encyclopedia
  2. ^ Robertson, Heather (10 December 1977). "Western Mystic". Ottawa Citizen. p. 138.
  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". Canadian Writers, Athabasca University. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  7. ^ "Product Description".
  8. ^ "Rudy Wiebe | The Canadian Encyclopedia". Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  9. ^ "October 1999 Beck | Mennonite Quarterly Review | Goshen College". Mennonite Quarterly Review. 16 June 1999. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  10. ^ Kertzer, J.M. (1986). "Rudy Wiebe: Biocritical Essay". University of Calgary: Special Collections.