The walls of Mr. James Parker’s study are lined with awards, plaques and certificates. There is a bookshelf of literary material of different topics, and photographs in great abundance. This may not seem too strange, until you know that he never received any formal schooling in his entire life. Nevertheless, he has made significant contributions to science and community.
Mr. Parker proves that the way to learn history is not only from a book. He has experienced history in the making, and vividly remembers the sights and sounds of the earlier days: the building of the railway between Gilbert Plains and Grandview, the first car a 1917 Model T, the Depression of the 1930s, and even the quota problems of the 1960s.
After taking over his father’s farm, Mr. Parker stopped raising cattle and concentrated on grain farming. As he put it, “wheat was the only woman I loved,” and wheat he did love. Jim produced his own strain, “Parker’s Marquis,” two years after he joined the Canadian Seed Growers Association in 1918.
For 34 years Mr. Parker reported to the Dominion Bureau of Statistics for which he received the meritorious Service Award. He was a life member of: the C. S. G. A., the Manitoba Institute of Agrologists, the Gilbert Plains-Grandview Agricultural Society, and the Agricultural Institute of Canada.
This amateur botanist has collected, documented, pressed and donated between 7 – 8000 plant specimens to such institutions as U. of M. , McGill University, University of Helsinki, the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, England, and the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature. He was awarded an Honorary Membership in the Manitoba Naturalist Society, and a few years later was granted the title Honorary Associate Curator of Botany at the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature.
Mr. Parker has made more than 2000 colour slides of native plants. Many of these pictures have been professionally accepted.
He has given of his time and energy to every aspect of community life: musician, Justice of the Peace, education and athletic benefactor, photographer, besides being a supporter of the local baseball team.
Although he has received awards and recognition, like the Manitoba Centennial Medal for community service, and the naming of a muskeg, “Parker’s Bog,” James Parker has not received as much recognition as he deserves.