Charlie Froebe was born at Carman, Manitoba, on November 27, 1941. He grew up on the family farm in the Homewood district where he attended grade school and was a member of the Manitoba Sugar Beet 4-H Club. His secondary education was at St. John’s Ravenscourt in Winnipeg and Western Military Academy in Alton, Illinois. He received a Diploma in Agriculture from the University of Manitoba and continued as a life-long learner through accounting, electronics and computer courses from the Universities of North Dakota and Minnesota, Red River College and the Devry Institute. Charlie and Bonnie Strachan married in 1964 in Carman and raised two daughters, Karla and Nichole, on the farm at Homewood.
Charlie’s major contribution to agriculture was his innovative and steadfast work on behalf of canola growers and on cash advance programs. In 1980 he was appointed to the board of the Manitoba Rapeseed Growers Association, now called the Manitoba Canola Growers Association. He soon recognized the need for a cash advance system for canola so he proceeded to develop a model which became the Canola Cash Advance Program for Western Canada. While a bank handled the financial functions, Charlie travelled to Winnipeg several times a week to review applications. He then developed computer software to manage the Program, which he and Bonnie did from their home with a growing staff. By 1996, the Program demanded their full time attention so they retired from farming and established an office in Carman. By the time the Froebes retired in 2000, there were thirteen employees and the office was issuing up to $200 million annually in advances on canola, flax, rye and oats.
Besides serving the boards of the Manitoba Canola Growers Association and the Prairie Canola Growers Council, Charlie is credited with influencing the formation and success of the Canadian Canola Growers Association and the Canola Council of Canada. He was also influential in the development of the Manitoba canola “check-off”, a process started in 1989 and completed in 1996 when it was implemented. He has been a valued participant in international meetings which included trips to Japan, Hong Kong, Mexico, England and the USA.
Charlie also contributed much to the agricultural community through service on the local boards of Manitoba Pool Elevators and United Grain Growers. His leadership was valued in community organizations such as the local Co-op, the Dufferin Agricultural Society, Carman United Way, Carman United Church and the Homewood Community Club.
Carman named Charlie as Citizen of the Year in 1984. He received a “Certificate of Merit” from the University of Manitoba in 2001 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the agricultural industry and the public at large, and an “Award of Excellence” in 2010 from the Manitoba Canola Growers for his dedication to canola.