Wiebo Ludwig, the making of an eco-warrior
Wiebo Ludwig, the patriarch of a Christian fundamentalist community, was best known as an environmental crusader and convicted bomber who has spent the better part of the last two decades fighting oil and gas exploration near his farm in rural Alberta.
Here’s a look at key moments in his life.
1985: Ludwig, his wife, Mamie, and another family build a compound in Trickle Creek, Alta., about 450 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.
1990: Oil and gas companies start exploration in the area, which contains significant natural gas deposits.
Early-to-mid-’90s: Ludwig begins raising concerns about property rights and the toxicity of sour gas, which contains hydrogen sulfide, a poison. Ludwig claims that two sour gas leaks near his farm resulted in a number of animal deaths and the miscarriages of two family members.
1996: After Alberta Energy Co.’s proposes seismic testing and Norcen Energy Resources starts drilling a well north of his farm, the Ludwig family barricades the road.
1998: Abel Ludwig is dead at birth owing to serious head deformities, but the Ludwigs refuse to call in a coroner to examine the baby's body. More than 20 families living in the vicinity of the Trickle Creek farm sign a petition saying none of them had suffered the severe health problems Ludwig ascribed to the oil and gas industry.
June 20, 1999: Two trucks carrying eight teenagers venture onto Ludwig's property around 4 a.m., ostensibly for a joy ride. Gunshots ring out, and one of them, a girl named Karman Willis, is hit in the chest and dies a short time later. (A 19-year-old friend, Shaun Westwater, is treated for gunshot wounds but is released from hospital three days later.) Ludwig is the immediate suspect. He denies personal involvement, as well as the suggestion that Willis could have been killed by another family member on the compound. The case remains unsolved to this day.
Early 2000: Ludwig is convicted of five offences, including blowing up a gas well, vandalizing another and instructing a police informant to obtain dynamite. He is sentenced to 28 months and released after 18.
October 2000: Ludwig aims to lead Alberta’s Social Credit Party, but a judge refuses to waive his bail conditions, which would have enabled him to attend the leadership convention. Ludwig is forced to withdraw.
Oct. 11, 2008: This date marks the first of six bomb attacks targeting pipelines and wellheads owned and operated by the oil and gas company EnCana near Dawson Creek, B.C.
September 2009: In an open letter to the mysterious EnCana pipeline bomber, Ludwig expresses his sympathy for the cause, but encourages the perpetrator to stop.
Jan. 8, 2010: Ludwig is arrested as a suspect in connection with the pipeline bombings.
Jan. 9, 2010: After the RCMP conduct an exhaustive search of his farm, Ludwig is released without charge.
2011: World premiere of Wiebo’s War, a National Film Board-produced documentary about Ludwig by Canadian director David York.
October 2011: Ludwig announces that he has esophageal cancer, and that he will not be seeking radiation treatments or chemotherapy.