W.J. Parker was born in Sanford, Manitoba in 1896. He attended the University of Manitoba and graduated with a B.Sc.A. degree.

Parker farmed at Ste. Agathe and Sanford and in 1928 he was elected to the board of directors of the Sanford Co-operative Elevator Association. In 1930 he was elected to the board of directors of the Manitoba Pool Elevators and became the third president of the company following the death of Paul Bredt in 1940.

Parker held numerous other appointments during his long career. He was president of the Northern Canadian Seed Sales Ltd. and Pool Packers Ltd. He was also vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, Canadian Co-operative Wheat Producers Ltd., Canadian Pool Agencies Ltd. and the Pool Insurance Company.

As an advisor to the Canadian government, he attended International Wheat Agreement negotiations in London, Washington and Geneva. He also attended the organizational meeting of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers held in London, England and subsequent General Conferences in various parts of the world.

Parker was awarded many honors for his self-denying efforts on behalf of Manitoba agriculture, including Member of the British Empire, Fellow of the Agricultural Institute of Canada, Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, from the University of Manitoba and Medal of Service of the Order of Canada.