Friday, January 12, 2018

Sylvan Oswald Hillerud: First Provincial Apiarist of Alberta

Sylvan Oswald Hillerud, the first Provincial Apiarist of Alberta, was a knowledgeable civil servant who learned of bees in Ontario and the United States, and continued his field education in the West. Alberta's chief bee guy from 1928, his life with bees took an abrupt end, but he was remembered with affection by beekeepers long after his retirement in 1939.

Born in Millsboro, North Dakota, to Norwegian Methodist parents on 19 December 1897, his family immigrated to Canada in 1904. In 1918, he listed Claresholm, Alberta, as home when he enlisted for the war. Arriving in England in July, he then served in France as a sapper with the 3 Canadian Engineers Reserve Battalion. Sadly, his service files have few details on his deployment.  In 1919, he worked for the Khaki College, a soldier-run school where he temporarily gained the rank of sergeant. The acting rank suggests he may have done some agricultural teaching there for demobilizing soldiers. He took the War Service Gratuity in 1919, and possibly used it to pay for schooling back in Canada's Prairie West.

After his graduation with a B.S.A. from the University of Alberta in 1920 [or 1921], he studied and mentored under prominent Ontario beekeepers J.L. Byers, F.W. Krouse, and G.L. Jarvis. In the interwar years, he also worked with bees in Montana and California. It was in 1928 that he was made the first provincial apiarist in Alberta. For a couple years he served as provincial inspector in the province and unfortunately as a part of his duties had to burn some diseased hives from time to time. In 1932, he continued his education, traveling to Cornell University to study.

Unfortunately, Hillerud's career in bees was cut short. In 1939, as another world war loomed, he developed an allergy which was said to have been aggravated by his previous gas poisoning during the First World War. He was succeeded as provincial apiarist by W.G. leMaistre. In 1958, Hillerud's memory helped to fill a historical tribute to beekeeping history in Alberta.

Picture of
Photo: Bear Hugs
Sylvan Hillerud passed away in 1979, predeceased by his wife Isabel Janet Hillerud the year before.   Years after his time as the first chief bee man in Alberta, he was remembered with fondness by beekeepers of the province.

Sources: documents
Alberta Beekeepers Association Anniversary Pamphlet
Military Service Files

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