Esmond Jarvis was born in Gladstone, Manitoba in 1931, the son of Frederick and Dorothy Jarvis. He attended the Palestine Public School and Gladstone High School. In 1955 he graduated from the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Manitoba, and was awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s Gold Medal for General Proficiency. In 1960, he graduated from Michigan State University with a Masters Degree in Animal Husbandry.
Esmond’s agriculture career began at an early age. As a student in the Faculty of Agriculture he served three years on the Faculty Council, four years in faculty sports and three years on the Faculty Winter Fair Board, completing his term as manager.
During his working career, Esmond was awarded the Nuffield Travelling Fellowship and the University of Manitoba Distinguished Alumni Award.
Esmond began a twelve year career with Manitoba Agriculture first as an Agriculture Representative in the Swan River district. In 1956, he returned to Winnipeg as a Dairy Cattle Specialist in the Livestock Branch. In 1958, he was appointed Assistant Livestock Commissioner for Manitoba. This was followed by his appointment as Livestock Commissioner in 1960. He was appointed Acting Assistant Deputy Minister in 1961 and Deputy Minister of Agriculture in 1962. At the age of 31, he was the youngest person ever to hold this post. Two of his major contributions in this position were the establishment of the Manitoba Crop Insurance Program and the Hog Marketing Commission. Esmond’s expertise as a livestock judge was recognized nationally at both the Red River Exhibition and the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto.
Esmond’s real forte, however, was in national agriculture policy. In 1967, Esmond was appointed an Assistant Deputy Minister of Agriculture Canada. This was followed by a promotion to Associate Deputy Minister. His list of endeavours nationally and internationally was significant, including Chairman of the Agricultural Stabilization Board; Chairman of the Agricultural Products Board; Chairman of the Agricultural Team for GATT; as well as Coordinator of the Grains Group. He served for thirteen years as Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Wheat Board in Winnipeg.
In 1990, Esmond was appointed Canada’s High Commissioner to New Zealand and five neighbouring South Pacific countries and Ambassador to Fiji.
In spite of his demanding career, Esmond found time for family, church and other organizations. He was a member of the Agricultural Institute of Canada and the Manitoba and Ontario Institutes of Agrologists.
Throughout his career and rapid ascension to more and more responsible positions, Esmond never forgot his roots nor his purpose of bettering the situation for the farming community. It was said by one of his peers that “he was the epitome of the professional civil servant.”