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Wiebe was born at Speedwell, near Fairholme, Saskatchewan in what would later become his family’s chicken barn. For thirteen years he lived in an isolated community of about 250 people, as part of the last generation of homesteaders to settle the Canadian west. He did not speak English until age six since Mennonites at that time customarily spoke Low German at home and standard German at Church. He attended the small school three miles from his farm and the Speedwell Mennonite Brethren Church.
Wiebe's novels include Peace Shall Destroy Many (1962), First and Vital Candle (1966), The Blue Mountains of China(1970), The Temptations of Big Bear (1973), The Scorched-wood People (1977), The Mad Trapper (1980), My Lovely Enemy (1983), A Discovery of Strangers (1994), and Sweeter Than All the World (2001). He has also published collections of short stories, essays, and children's books. In 2006 he published a volume of memoirs about his childhood, entitled Of This Earth: A Mennonite Boyhood in the Boreal Forest.
Thomas King says of The Temptations of Big Bear that "Wiebe captures the pathos and the emotion of Native people at a certain point in their history and he does it well ... Wiebe points out to us that Canada has not come to terms with Native peoples, that there is unfinished business to attend to."
Wiebe taught at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana from 1963 to 1967, and he has travelled widely. He is deeply committed to the literary culture of Canada and has shown a particular interest in the traditions and struggles of people in the Prairie provinces, both whites and Aboriginals.