Friday, February 2, 2018

W. G. LeMaistre, Provincial Apiarist of Alberta, 1939-1956

William Godfrey LeMaistre was  Alberta's second provincial apiarist. Born in England, his beekeeping education was obtained  at the Ontario Agricultural College. His predecessor as provincial apiarist, Mr. Hillerud, had also spent time learning bees in Central Canada. After LeMaistre's graduation in 1926, he farmed in Saskatchewan before returning to work for the College. He obtained the nickname "Tarz" during his college days, as he excelled at wrestling among other sports. The reference is presumably to his Tarzan-like moves on the mats?

An 1958 anniversary volume of the Alberta Beekeepers Association noted,

"As a scientist in the field of Apiculture, he had the admiration of his fellow workers. His keen mind was always on the alert to recognize and find the solution to beekeeping problems. At Beekeepers' Council meetings his advice was always anticipated with keen interest as being fair and well projected into the future. 

Tarz had a warm personality and sharp sense of humor. He will long be remembered by beekeepers of all Canada for his untiring services to the beekeeping industry."

LeMaistre presided over a great expansion of beekeeping in Alberta during the Second World War, and his name is attached to a number of educational pamphlets of the era on wintering bees and how to care for package bees. In a recent address to the Calgary and District Beekeepers Association, beekeeper and blogger Ron Miksha suggested that the great wartime surge of interest in beekeeping was due, in part, to the larger ration of sugar that was allotted to feed the bees. I think he is suggesting that not all the sugar made it to the hive! While crop sizes swelled to unprecedented volumes, the amount of honey per hive lowered, suggesting the new beekeepers had a few things to learn about the fine art of apiculture. 

In 1943, the Calgary and District Beekeeping Association attempted to connect new beekeepers with their provincial apiarist, Mr. LeMaistre. Toole family fonds, Glenbow Museum and Archives.

No comments:

Post a Comment