Leonard Hylary Shebeski was born in Aubigny, Manitoba, August 5th, 1914. Shebeski, the son of Polish emigrants, grew up in the rural environment of the Canadian prairies. His family farm life was both a positive and permanent influence. In his early twenties, Shebeski entered into the University of Manitoba where he received his Bachelor of Science Agriculture (1941) and Master of Science (1946) degrees. Shebeski was an outstanding student who excelled in his studies. He received numerous scholarships and awards, including the prestigious Lieutenant Governor's Gold Medal in Agriculture.
Shebeski's academic career was disturbed, as were so many others of his era, by the Second World War. Shebeski enrolled in the Royal Canadian Air Force in March 1941 and in his typical manner excelled in training, first as an Observer and later as a Pilot. He was Mentioned in Despatches in 1944. Shebeski was discharged (Honorable) in October, 1945.
Shebeski immediately returned to his academic work, studying for his Doctorate at the University of Minnesota in 1946-47. His reputation as a skilled scholar preceded him and he was sought out by the University of Saskatchewan for its Department of Field Husbandry. In 1947, Shebeski accepted the University of Saskatchewan's offer of an Assistant Professorship. Within the year he was promoted to Associate Professor.
Shebeski's long and distinguished association with the University of Manitoba began in 1953, when he left the University of Saskatchewan to take up full Professorship and to become Head of the Plant Sciences Department. In 1965, Shebeski became the Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture, a position he held until his retirement in 1979. During his tenure, Dean Shebeski personally guided the development and direction of the faculty which resulted in a growth rate of unprecedented proportions.
Dean Shebeski has received honorary degrees from the University of Warsaw (Russian is his second language), Queen's University and the University of Saskatchewan. Dr. Shebeski was brought out of retirement to take the seat as Dean Emeritus at the University of Manitoba. In addition to these academic honours, Dr. Shebeski was invested into the Order of Canada (Officer) in 1977.
Dr. Shebeski is a renowned leader in the Canadian agricultural development field as witnessed by his participation in agencies such as the National Research Council; the Canadian Agricultural Research Council; and the Association of the Scientific, Engineering and Technological Community of Canada. However, Dr. Shebeski's sights were not restricted to only Canadian issues. He actively sought out and participated in numerous international committees and agencies. Notable amongst these was his work on the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture; the World Bank Rural Development Committee; and the Commonwealth Advisory Group on Food Production and Rural Development.
Dr. Shebeski's research activities have been of international consequence. His research efforts have been greatest in the area of wheat breeding. His initial work was undertaken at the University of Saskatchewan where he focused on barley, oat and rye improvement techniques. One year following his move to the University of Manitoba he initiated what became his single most significant contribution to agriculture -- the triticale breeding program. Under Dean Shebeski and others, notably Doctors Jenkins, Welsh and Larter, the triticale program flourished and received international acclaim as the 'superseed' of the future.
Dr. Shebeski married his wife Laura on May 26th, 1945. They have four children: Janice, Elaine, Peggy and Kathy. Dr. and Mrs. Shebeski resided in Victoria, British Columbia until his death in 2010.
Chronology of Events
1914 -- Born, Aubigny, Manitoba
1941 -- B.A., University of Manitoba
1941-45 -- Observer and Pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force
1946 -- M.Sc., University of Manitoba
1947 -- Assistant Professor, University of Saskatchewan
1953 -- Professor, Department Head, University of Manitoba
1954 -- Initiates Research on Triticale Project
1965 -- Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Manitoba
1967 -- Received Centennial Medal
1972 -- Received Honorary Doctorate from University of Warsaw
1974 -- Received Honorary Doctorate of Science from Queen's University
1976 -- Received Honorary LL.D. from University of Saskatchewan
1977 -- Invested Order of Canada (Officer)
1979 -- Retired from University of Manitoba
1981 -- Appointed as Dean Emeritus University of Manitoba