Condolences are pouring in on social media for a popular Red Deer teacher who died over the weekend, with one provincial party leader saying "Alberta is a lesser place" without him.

Joe Bower died Sunday afternoon after suffering a heart attack Friday, according to a social media post from a sibling.

Bower was a tireless advocate for making the public school system more progressive and student-centred, writing a popular blog called For the Love of Learning on issues close to him.

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"Today we lost a great man, a husband, father, son, brother, cousin, nephew, friend, and educator," his sister Jennifer Bower-Hannotte wrote in a Facebook post Sunday.

"A passionate man who was committed to creating a better world."

The junior high school teacher's Twitter account, @joe_bower, was trending by Sunday afternoon.

Condolences came swiftly from dozens of friends, colleagues and elected officials, past and present.

Fellow educator Chris Wejr, broke the news to Twitter friends, calling Bower a "friend and hero."

Calgary Liberal MP Kent Hehr tweeted his words of support to the family.

A former education minister and deputy premier, Thomas Lukaszuk, called Bower's death a huge loss.

The leader of the Alberta Party said Alberta is a "lesser place" without Bower.

An article Bower wrote in 2009 seemed to capture his teaching philosophy.

"Trying to define good teaching and good learning is no easy task," Bower wrote.

"But if we always keep our ultimate objective in mind — the love of learning — and we allow nothing to sabotage us, our children will be afforded the opportunity to learn for the sake of learning in a safe and caring learning environment."