Theodor (Ted) R. Wiens
“Wiens” was a ‘people Person’ taking great interest in his friends, community and church, able to get into the hearts of many people”, was how Jack Braun, a friend of 25 years, described ‘Ted’ at the funeral on June 7, 1993.
Theodor Rudolph Wiens (Ted), was born September 11, 1932 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. His parents had come in 1923 from southern Ukraine, then a part of Russia. The youngest of five, he went to Victoria Albert and Gordon Bell schools in Winnipeg. Because of poor economic times, at age 16 he began hauling eggs from the producers to Safeway stores in Winnipeg, with Oscar, his brother.
He approached Safeway with a plan to set up a specialized egg production unit in Saskatchewan. In August of 1966, his dream began to unfold. He had a contract with Safeway, finances were arranged and by January 1967, a 40,000 egg layer unit was underway. This was the birth of O&T Poultry (Oscar and Ted). Family members now have 85,000 egg layer quota and 35,000 broiler chicken quota. O&T grows over 300,000 pullet chicks annually for layer farms and in 1975 built a feed mill to supply their needs and that of their customers. Agdevco was purchased from the Saskatchewan government in the late 1980’s and resulted in ventures in Africa, Indonesia, India, Hong Kong and the Caribbean. Ted also travelled to Russia and was planning further involvement in that area. Agdevco was established to enhance international trade and initiate projects to aid undeveloped areas. This attracted Ted, a true philanthropist. The projects are quite large. One, when completed, will produce 21 million broiler chickens per year, from breeder farms right through to distribution of the chicken. This is almost twice the size of the total Saskatchewan industry. The efforts of this type will continue but without the guidance of Ted.
Being very much a free enterpriser and a self-made man, Ted was not in favour of marketing boards. He openly opposed their formation from the start. However, when the Saskatchewan Commercial Egg Board was voted in democratically by producers, he accepted the Board and did his utmost to see it succeed. The Regina Leader Post wrote of Ted: “At home, he was known as a fair competitor. You always knew where you stood with him. There was nothing artificial, said Linda Boxall of Sunshine Eggs. Although he was a competitor, he cared for everyone. He was part of the family and there aren’t many of us in the business.”
He served the industry in various capacities. He was Chairman of the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council, Chairman – as well as long time director – of the Saskatchewan Poultry Council, and Chairman of the Saskatchewan Commercial Egg Board and Director of the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency. The list could go on. He always conducted himself with seriousness and with respect for the office, his peers and all others. His efforts and generosity as a Director of the Canadian Western Agribition and, as a buyer of the ‘Sale of Champions’, brought considerable recognition to the Saskatchewan poultry industry.
He was always very active and committed to his church, the Mennonite Brethren. He was a part of the Christian Service Brigade in Winnipeg, moderator of his Regina congregation for five years and on the diaconate for six years.
Ted and his wife and partner, Hilda, have two sons, Rob and Tim. In an interview in 1978 Ted was asked: “Will they go into the family business?” Ted replied, “I hope that may come to pass.”; never by force, but by example. Through his faith, devotion, compassion, conviction and work, his hopes and dreams were fulfilled. He is truly missed.