Concerned about losses to Ontario wheat crops due to rust, David Fife, a Peterborough County farmer, made a trip to Scotland in 1840 in the hope of purchasing seed of a superior variety. The seed obtained originally proved to be no improvement over native stock. Some seed obtained in 1842, however, produced plants that appeared to be rust resistant. David Fife harvested these plants separately and used the grain for multiplication purposes.
In addition to being rust resistant, this wheat had excellent milling qualities. Accordingly, it became a recognized variety and was named “Red Fife,” after the man who had been responsible for its development.
During the early part of this century most of the wheat grown in western Canada was of the “Red Fife” variety. Latterly, it has been replaced by earlier maturing varieties, most of which trace their parentage and rust resistant characteristics to the variety developed by David Fife.