by Hopkins Moorhouse
CHAPTER I. THE
MAN ON THE
CHAPTER II. A
CALL TO ARMS
CHAPTER III. THE
FIRST SHOT IS
CHAPTER V. “THE
HOUSE WITH THE
CHAPTER VI. ON A
CARD IN THE
CHAPTER VII. A
FIGHT FOR LIFE!
CHAPTER VIII. A
KNOCK ON THE
CHAPTER IX. THE
CHAPTER XI. FROM
THE RED RIVER
VALLEY TO THE
CHAPTER XII. THE
CHAPTER XIV. THE
CHAPTER XVI. THE
GRIP OF THE PIT
CHAPTER XVIII. A
CHAPTER XX. WHAT
CHAPTER XXI. IN
THE DRAG OF THE
THE WIDTH OF THE
THE DEPTH OF THE
AND THE END IS
Which Tells of Pioneer Trails Along Which
the Farmers of Western Canada Fought
Their Way to Great Achievements
TORONTO AND WINNIPEG
GEORGE J. McLEOD, LIMITED
COPYRIGHT, CANADA, 1918
BY GEORGE J. McLEOD, LIMITED
MEN AND WOMEN OF THE SOIL
Once in awhile, maybe, twenty-five or thirty years ago, they used to
pack you off during the holidays for a visit on Somebody's Farm. Have
you forgotten? You went with your little round head close clipped till
all the scar places showed white and you came back with a mat of
sunbleached hair, your face and hands and legs brown as a nut.
Probably you treasure recollections of those boyhood days when a raw
field turnip, peeled with a toad-stabber, was mighty good eatin'. You
remember the cows and chickens, the horses, pigs and sheep, the old
corn-crib where generally you could scare up a chipmunk, the gnarled
old orchardthe Eastern rail-fenced farm of a hundred-acres-or-so. You
remember Wilson's Emporium at the Corners where you went for the
mailthe place where the overalled legs of the whole community drummed
idly against the cracker boxes and where dried prunes, acquired with
due caution, furnished the juvenile substitute for a chew of tobacco!
Or perhaps you did not know even this much about country lifeyou
of the Big Cities. To you, it may be, the Farmer has been little more
than the caricatures of the theatres. You have seen him wearing blue
jeans or a long linen duster in The Old Homestead, wiping his eyes
with a big red bandana from his hip pocket. You have seen him dance
eccentric steps in wrinkled cowhide boots, his hands beneath flapping
coat-tails, his chewing jaws constantly moving the little bunch of
spinach on his chin! You have heard him fiddle away like two-sixty at
Pop Goes the Weasel! You have grinned while he sang through his nose
about the great big hat with the great big brim, All Ba-ound Ra-ound
With a Woolen String!
Yes, and you used to read about the Farmer, tooWill Carleton's
farm ballads and legends; Riley's fine verses about the frost on the
pumpkin and Little Orphant Annie and Over the Hill to the
Poorhouse! And when Cousin Letty took you to the Harvest Home Supper
and Grand Entertainment in the Town Hall you may have heard the village
choir wail: Oh, Shall We Mortgage the Farm?
Perhaps even yet, now that you are man grownbusiness or
professional man of the great citiesperhaps even yet, although you
long have studied the market reports and faithfully have read the
papers every dayperhaps that first impression of what a farmer was
like still lingers in a more or less modified way. So that to you
pretty much of an Old Hayseed he remains. Thus, while you have been
busy with other things, the New Farmer has come striding along until he
has arrived in our midst and to you he is a stranger.
Remember the old shiny black mohair sofa and the wheezy,
yellow-keyed melodeon or the little roller hand-organ that used to play
Old Hundred? They have given place to new styles of furniture,
upright pianos and cabinet gramophones. Coffin-handles and wax flowers
are not framed in walnut and hung in the Farmer's front parlor any
more; you will find the grotesque crayon portrait superseded by photo
enlargements and the up-to-date kodak. The automobile has widened the
circle of the Farmer's neighbors and friends, while the telephone has
wiped distance from the map.
In the modern farm kitchen hot and cold water gushes from bright
nickel taps into a clean white enamel sink, thanks to the pneumatic
water supply system. The house and other farm buildings are lighted by
electricity and perhaps the little farm power plant manages to operate
some machineryto drive the washing machine, the cream separator, the
churn and the fodder-cutter or tanning-mill. There is also a little
blacksmith shop and a carpenter shop where repairs can be attended to
without delay. True, all these desirable conveniences may not be
possessed generally as yet; but the Farmer has seen them working on the
model farmstead exhibited by the Government at the Big Fair or in the
Farm Mechanics car of the Better Farming Special Trains that have
toured the country, and he dreams about them.
More scientific methods of agriculture have been adopted. The Farmer
has learned what may be accomplished by crop rotations and new methods
of cultivation. He has learned to analyze the soil and grow upon his
land those crops for which it is best suited. If he keeps a dairy herd
he tests each cow and knows exactly how her yield is progressing so
that it is impossible for her to beat her board bill. No longer is it
even considered good form to chop the head off the old rooster; the
Farmer sticks him scientifically, painlessly, instantaneously dressing
him for market in the manner that commands the highest price. So with
the butter, the eggs and all the rest of the farm products.
Do you wonder that the great evolution of farming methods should
lead to advanced thought upon the issues of the day? In the living room
the Family Bible remains in its old place of honor, perhaps with the
crocheted mat still doing duty; but it is not now almost the only book
in the house. There is likely to be a sectional bookcase, filled with
solid volumes on all manner of practical and economic subjectsthese
as well as the best literature, the latest magazines and two or three
Yes, a whole flock of tin roosters have rusted away on top of the
barn since the Farmer first began to consider himself the Rag Doll of
Commerce and to seek adjustments. It is the privilege of rag dolls to
survive a lot of abuse; long after wax has melted and sawdust run the
faithful things are still on hand. And along about crop time the Farmer
finds himself attracting a little attention.
That is because this business of backbone farming is the backbone of
Business In General. As long as money is circulating freely Business In
General, being merely an exchange in values, wears a clean shirt and
the latest cravat. But let some foreign substance clog the trade
channels and at once everything tightens up and squeezes everybody.
Day by day the great mass of the toilers in the cities go to work
without attempting to understand the fluctuations of supply and demand.
They are but cogs on the rim, dependent for their little revolutions
upon the power which drives the machinery. That power being Money
Value, any wastage must be replaced by the creation of new wealth. So
men turn to the soil for salvationto the greatest manufacturing
concern in the world, Nature Unlimited. This is the plant of which the
Farmer is General Manager.
On state occasions, therefore, it has been the custom in the past to
call him the backbone of his countryits bone and sinew. Without
him, as it were, the Commercial Fabric could not sit up in its High
Chair and eat its bread and milk. Such fine speeches have been
applauded loudly in the cities, too frequently without due
thoughtwithout it occurring to anyone, apparently, that perhaps the
Farmer might prefer to be looked upon rather as an ordinary
hard-working human being, entitled as such to a square deal.
But all these years times have been changing. Gradually Agriculture
has been assuming its proper place in the scheme of things. It is
recognized now that successful farming is a businessa profession, if
you likerequiring lifelong study, foresight, common sense, close
application; that it carries with it all the satisfaction of honest
work well done, all the dignity of practical learning, all the comforts
of modern invention, all the wider benefits of clean living and right
thinking in God's sunny places.
And with his increasing self-respect the New Farmer is learning to
command his rights, not merely to ask and accept what crumbs may fall.
He is learning that these are the days of Organization, of Co-Operation
among units for the benefit of the Whole; that by pooling his resources
he is able to reach the Common Objective with the least waste of
He has become a power in the land.
These pages record a story of the Western Canadian farmer's upward
struggle with market conditionsa story of the organized Grain
Growers. No attempt is made to set forth the full details of the whole
Farmer's Movement in Western Canada in all its ramifications; for the
space limits of a single volume do not permit a task so ambitious.
The writer has endeavored merely to gather an authentic record of
the earlier activities of the Grain Growers' Associations in the three
Prairie Provinceswhy and how they came to be organized, with what the
farmers had to contend and something of their remarkable achievements
in co-operative marketing during the past decade. It is a tale of
strife, limned by high lights and some shadows. It is a record worthy
of preservation and one which otherwise would pass in some of its
details with the fading memories of the pathfinders.
If from these pages the reader is able to glean something of
interest, something to broadenbe it ever so slightlyhis
understanding of the Western Canadian farmers' past viewpoint and
present outlook, the undertaking will have found its justification and
the long journeys and many interviews their reward.
For, under the alchemy of the Great War, many things are changing
and in the wonderful days of reconstruction that lie ahead the Farmer
is destined to play an upstanding part in the new greatness of our
country. Because of this it behooves the humblest citizen of us to seek
better understanding, to meet half way the hand of fellowship which he
extends for a new conception of national life.
The writer is grateful to those farmers, grain men, government
officials and others who have assisted him so kindly in gathering and
verifying his material. Indebtedness is acknowledged also to sundry
Dominion Government records, to the researches of Herbert N. Casson and
to the press and various Provincial Departments of Agriculture for the
use of their files.
WINNIPEG, March 1st, 1918.
CHAPTER I. THE MAN ON THE QU'APPELLE
Among the lonely lakes I go no more,
For she who made their beauty is not there;
The paleface rears his tepee on the shore
And says the vale is fairest of the fair.
Full many years have vanished since, but still
The voyageurs beside the camp-fire tell
How, when the moon-rise tips the distant hill,
They hear strange voices through the silence swell.
E. Pauline Johnson.
The Legend of Qu'Appelle.
To the rimming skyline, and beyond, the wheatlands of Assiniboia
spread endlessly in the sunshine. It was early October in the year
1901one of those clear bright days which contribute enchantment to
that season of spun gold when harvest bounties are garnered on the
Canadian prairies. Everywhere was the gleam of new yellow stubble. In
serried ranks the wheat stocks stretched, dwindling to mere specks,
merging as they lost identity in distance. Here and there stripes of
plowed land elongated, the rich black freshly turned earth in sharp
contrast to the prevailing gold, while in a tremendous deep blue arch
overhead an unclouded sky swept to cup the circumference of vision.
Many miles away, yet amazingly distinct in the rarefied air, the smoke
of threshers hung in funnelled smudges above the horizonlike the
black smoke of steamers, hull down, at sea.
On this particular autumn afternoon a certain black dot might have
been observed, so lost in the immensity of landscape that it appeared
to be stationary. It was well out upon the trail that wound northward
from Indian Head into the country of the Fishing Lakesthe trail that
forked also eastward to dip through the valley of the Qu'Appelle at
Blackwood before striking north and east across the Kenlis plain
towards the Pheasant Hills. In reality the well kept team which drew
the big grain wagon was swinging steadily ahead at a smart pace; for
their load of supplies, the heaviest item of which was a new plow, was
comparatively light, they were homeward bound and the going in the
earlier stages of the long journey was smooth.
The driver sat hunched in his seat, reins sagging. He was a man of
powerful physique, his skin deep coppered by long exposure to prairie
winds and sun. In repose the face that was shadowed by the wide felt
hat would have appeared somewhat deceptive in its placidity owing to
the fact that the strong jaw and firm mouth were partly hidden by a
heavy moustache and a thick, black beard, trimmed short.
Just now it was evident that the big farmer's mood was far from
pleasant. Forearm on knee, he had surrendered completely to his
thoughts. His fists clenched spasmodically and there was an angry glint
in his eyes. Occasionally he shook his head as if the matter in mind
were almost too hopeless for consideration. A sudden surge of
resentment made him lash his booted leg with the ends of the lines.
Confound them! he muttered aloud.
He had just delivered his first load of the season's new wheat.
Three nights before, by lantern light, he had backed his horses to the
wagon and hauled it twenty-five miles to the railway at Indian Head.
His stay there had not been conducive to peace of mind.
To reach the rails with a heavy load in favorable weather was simple
enough; it merely required time. But many such trips would be necessary
before his crop was marketed. Some of the farmers from beyond the
Qu'Appelle would be hauling all winter; it was in winter that the haul
was long and cruel. Starting at one, two or three o'clock in the
morning, it would be impossible to forecast the weather with any degree
of accuracy, so that often they would be overtaken by blizzards. At
such times the lack of stopping-places and shelter in the sparsely
settled reaches of the trail encompassed the journey with risks every
whit as real as pioneer perils of marauding Indians or trailing
Snow and wind, however, had no place in the thoughts of the lonely
farmer at the moment. Such things he had been used to ever since he
first homesteaded; this long haul with the products of his toil he had
been making for many years. What immediately concerned him was the
discouraging prospect of another wheat blockade instead of any
improvement in conditions which had become unbearable. With the country
as full of wheat as it was this year it required no great gift of
prophecy to foretell what would happen.
It was happening already. The railway people were ignoring
completely the car-distribution clauses of the Grain Act and thereby
playing in with the elevator interests, so that the farmers were going
to be just where they were beforeat the mercy of the buyers, their
legitimate profits filched by excessive dockage, low grades, depressed
prices, exorbitant storage charges, even short weights in some cases.
All this in spite of the strong agitation which had led to Government
action, in spite of the Royal Commission which had investigated the
farmers' claims and had recommended the Grain Act, in spite of the
legislation on the statutes! Law or no law, the farmer was still to be
preyed upon, apparently, without a single weapon left with which
The eyes of the man in the broad-brimmed hat grew grave. Scoff as he
might among the men of the district when the serious ones voiced their
fears to him, his own thoughts always came back to those fears. From
the Red River Valley to the foothills long-smouldering indignation was
glowing like a streak of fire in the prairie grass; a spark or two more
and nothing could stop the conflagration that would sweep the plains
country. If the law were to fail these red-blooded and long-suffering
homesteaders there would be final weapons alrightreal weapons! It was
no use shutting one's eyes to the danger. Some fool would do something
rash, and with the farmers already inflamed and embittered, there was
no telling what desperate things might be attempted.
That was the fear which stirred and perplexed the solitary
traveller; for he had heard things that afternoonseen things that he
did not like but could not ignore. He recognized an undercurrent of
feeling, a silence more ominous than all the heated talk, and that was
where the danger lay. Something would have to be done, and that soon.
But what? What?
So engrossed was he that beyond an occasional flip of the reins or a
word to the horses he paid no heed to his surroundings. A huge
jack-rabbit sprang up, almost from beneath the noses of the team, and
went flying off in great leaps over the stubble. A covey of prairie
chicken, fat and fit, whirred into the air and rocketed away. But he
scarcely saw them. Had he looked up he might have noticed a horseman
loping down a cross trail with the evident intention of heading off the
wagon. But the rider had pounded almost within hailing distance before
the other was aware of his approach.
It was Bob McNair of the Two-Bar Ranch, as he insisted upon
calling his wheat farm. He waved an oil-spattered Stetson and came into
the trail with a rush, pulling up the wiry broncho with a suddenness
that would have unseated one less accustomed than McNair, former
corporal, Royal North-West Mounted Police.
Howdy, W. R. Thought 'twas your outfit. Good job I aint a Blackfoot
on the warpath, he laughed. I'd sure 'a' had your scalp sneaked
before you could draw a bead! He swung alongside, stepped into the
wagon, looped the bridle-rein over the handle of the new plow and,
climbing forward, shook hands heartily and sat down.
You're looking fit, Bob, welcomed the other with evident pleasure.
What brings you over this way? Everything going alright?
So-so, nodded McNair. Been over Sintaluta to see about gettin' a
car, among other things.
Of course you got it?
Sure! Oh, sure I got itgot it still to get! and McNair burst
into a flow of language that did even him justice. More or less
vehement at all times, the one-time corporal exhibited so much vigor in
his remarks that his good-natured auditor had to laugh. I ain't tryin'
to be funny! finished McNair. I mean every dashed word of it,
Motherwell. If I don't get some of it out o' my system I'll bust to
bits, that's what. Say, I met Sibbold. He told me some of you fellows
was meetin' over at the Head to-day. What about it?
Why, yes, Johnny Millar got a few of us together to talk things
over. Lot of talk alright. Some of the boys were feeling pretty hot, I
can tell you! But I can't see that anything came of it except some
resolutionsthe usual sort, you know.
Pshaw! I was hopin' it meant action of some kind. The ex-rancher
was silent for a moment. Then his right fist went into his left palm
with a smack. The only kind o' resolution that'll get anythin' is made
o' lead and fits in a rifle breech! And I want to tell you, old man, if
there ain't some pretty quick right-about-facin' in certain quarters,
I'll be dashed if I ain't for it! An' I won't be standin' alone,
either! he added grimly.
W. R. Motherwell glanced sharply at the tense face.
Don't talk nonsense! he reproved quietly.
I ain't talkin' nonsense. Not on your life! If I am, then I reckon
I know a hundred or so hard-headed farmers who're doin' the identical
same. An' if I know that many in my territory, W. R., how many d'you
suppose there are if we take in Manitoba and clean through to the
Then all I've got to say is: there are more and bigger fools in the
country than I had any idea of.
What d'you mean, talkin' like that?
That's just what I've got to say to you, McNair, retorted the big
farmer with heat. What do you mean, talking like that? If
you're serious in what you say
I said I was, didn't I? snapped the other.
Then you ought to be tied up on the Two-Bar and muzzled, for you're
plumb mad, McNair! It's just that kind of firebrand talk that's hurting
our cause. The farmers have got enough enemies now, God knows, without
making a lot of new ones. Doggone your hide, Mac, what're you trying to
do?Stir up another rebellion like that of '85?
If it's necessaryyou bet I am! he brazened.
You, of all men!
An' why not me? Just because I've worn the Queen's uniform, eh?
Well, let me tell you, sir, I belonged to a body of men who stood for
British justice an' a square deal to even the meanest Injun in the
Territories. The ex-mounted policeman spoke with pride. We'd never
have handled the beggars if it hadn't been for that. Even the Injuns
were men enough to recognize justice, an' that's more'n these
commercial blood-suckers to-day can do! If our case was in the hands of
the Force it'd rest on its merits an' us grain growers'd get justice.
Instead, where is it?in the hands of a pussy-footed, hifalutin' bunch
o' political windbags in the East who don't care a damn about us
hayseeds out West! An' what's more
The Royal Mounted stood for law and order, Bob; but you'd class
yourself with the half-breeds, would you? Have another little rebellion
like that of '85 with all the
Not like '85, interrupted the rancher. No, sir, this one'll be
bloodless; but it'll knock the spots off the 'breeds' little shindig
all the samee!
You spoke of rifles, McNair. Guns go off, interpolated the other
sententiously. What'n the mischief do you expect to gain by that sort
A hearing, by Jingo! That's more'n all your letters to the papers
an' your meetin's an' resolutions have got us. We'll show 'em we mean
Rot! How did we get the Royal Commission except by those letters
and meetings? That put the Manitoba Grain Act on the statutes, didn't
it? Mean to say we're no farther ahead? We've got the whole grain trade
under control and supervision
Like ducks you have! The former rancher threw back his head and
We've got the privilege of loading our wheat direct on cars through
the flat warehouses or any other way we like
What's the good o' that if a man can't get a car when he wants it?
demanded McNair impatiently. The elevator gang 've organized to grab
everything in sight. I know it. You know it. Everybody knows it, by
heaven! So what's the use o' talkin'?
We've got to be fair, though. The elevator people have put a lot of
moneySay, why can't we organize, too? suggested Motherwell with a
flash of inspiration. We haven't tried that yet. That's
constitutional. That's what the livestock breeders have done, he said
McNair shook his head.
I tell you, Bill, it's too late for that sort o' thing, he
objected. Unless you mean organizin' to fight
With guns, if necessary?
It won't be necessary.
Possibly not to shoot anybody. The showin' mebbe'll turn the trick.
Now, look here. My idea is that if a bunch of us fellows got together
on the quiet some night an' seized a few elevatorsSay, wouldn't it
bring things to a head so quick we'd get action? The law's there, but
these fellows are deliberately breakin' it an' we got to show 'em
The action you'd get would be the wrong kind, Mac, protested W. R.
Motherwell emphatically. You'd land in jail!
Don't see it that way, persisted McNair. Wouldn't give a
continental if I did so long's it woke a few people up.
I tell you you're on the wrong trail unless you want to get it
where the chicken got the axe!
Doggone it, man! Ain't that where we're gettin' it now?
Whereas with the right kind of organization
Don't believe it, grunted McNair, starting to climb back to his
horse. The time for any more o' these here granny tea-parties is past
to my way o' thinkin' an' if we can't agree on it, we'd better shut up
before we get mad. He vaulted easily into the saddle. But I'll tell
you one thing, W. R.there's the sweetest little flare-up you ever saw
on its way. I was talkin' the other day to Ed. Partridge, the Railton
boys, Al. Quigley, Billy Bonner and some more
And I'll bet they gave you a lot of sound advice, Mac! laughed
That's alright, resented McNair, the tan of his cheek deepening a
trifle. They're a pretty sore bunch an' a fellow from down Turtle
Mountain way in Manitoba told me
That the mud-turtle and the jack-rabbit finally agreed that slow
Bah! You're sure hopeless, grinned the owner of the Two-Bar,
giving his horse the rein.
Hope_ful, corrected W. R. Motherwell with a laugh. Tell Wilson,
if you see him, that Peter Dayman and I are expecting him over next
week, will you? And I say, Mac, don't kill too many before you get
home! he called in final jocularity.
The flying horseman waved his hat and his S'long came back
faintly. The other watched till horse and rider lost themselves among
the distant wheat stocks. The twinkle died out of his eyes as he
So McNair was another of them, eh? After all, that was only to be
expected of an old Indian fighter and cow-puncher like him. Poor Bob!
He had his reputation to sustain among the newcomershard rider, hard
fighter, hard drinker; to do it under the changed conditions naturally
required some hard talking on occasion. While Mac had become civilized
enough to keep one foot in a cowhide boot planted in the practical
present, the other foot was still moccasined and loath to forget the
days of war-paint and whiskey-traders, feathers and fears. Over the
crudities and hardships, the dirt and poverty, the years between had
hung a kindly curtain of glamor; so that McNair with his big soft
kerchiefs, his ranger's hat, his cow-puncher's saddle and trappings and
his Two-Bar brand was a figure to crane an Eastern neck.
Likeable enough chaptoo much of a man to be treated as a joke to
his face, but by no means to be taken seriouslynot on most occasions.
In the present instance, with feeling running as high as it was in some
quarters, that crazy idea of seizing a few elevators at the point of a
gun! What in heaven's name would they do with them after they got
them? Nevertheless, McNair might find rattle-brained listeners enough
to cause a heap of trouble. There were always a few fellows ready for
excitement; they might go in for the fun of it, then before they knew
it the thing would curdle over night like a pan of milk in a
He's just darn fool enough to try some funny work, muttered the
anxious driver of the grain wagon. Jailing him only makes a hero of
him and that's the kind of thing the beggar glories in. The
One by one throughout the afternoon the miles crept tediously
beneath the wagon. The sun which had steeped the stubble in gold all
day had turned the sky and was poising for its nightly dip below the
horizon by the time the long misty blue line of the Qu'Appelle hills
began to creep from the prairie. When the lone traveller at last could
count the deep shadowy coulees the sun had disappeared, but the riot of
after-fires still burned brightly in the west. He had passed his own
place hours before, but had stopped there only for a change of horses
and a brief rest; a parcel and an important message which he wished to
deliver in person at Fort Qu'Appelle without delay was extending his
Six hundred feet below the level of the plain the grassy slopes of
the Qu'Appelle Valley bowled to the blue lakes. Hugging the water's
edge, the buildings of the romantic old fort scattered in the twilight.
The winding trail stood out like a white thread that reached down the
valley towards the Catholic Mission of Lebret.
Before heading into the steep descent the farmer from over Abernethy
way slipped on his heavy cardigan jacket; for behind the rim of the
hills the sunset fires were dying and already the coolness of the
October night was making itself felt. At the mouth of a coulee he spoke
to a solitary Indian, standing motionless before a camp fire. The
appetizing odor of roasting wild fowl reminded him that he was more
than ready for the bite to eat which he would enjoy with the good
Father Hugonard at the Indian Missionhe of the dark, gentle eyes, the
quick understanding, the quiet tones. There would be much to talk
So it proved. The hour was growing late when finally he bade
good-bye to his pleasant host and resumed his journey in the starlight,
refreshed and encouraged. For here in the seclusion of this peaceful
valley, since the days of the great buffalo herds, Father Hugonard had
ministered to the Indians, starved with them, worked patiently with
them through many seasons of flowers and snows. Nevertheless, out of
many discouragements and privations had this sterling man retained an
abiding faith in the triumph of righteousness in all things.
In the quiet beauty of the wonderful October night was little place
for the anxious thoughts of the day. Bitterness of spirit, the
bickerings of men, commercial Oppression and injusticethese were
things far removed from the planets of the Ages that sparkled like
jewels in the vault of Night. A vagrant breeze whispered in the valley
sedges to the placid lake. High in the air, invisible, migrating
wavies winged into the south, the distant gabble of their passing
falling weirdly earthward.
The trail began to ascend sharply. Off to the right the sky was
growing rapidly lighter behind a distant hill and presently a lop of
yellow moon crept slowly over the edge and rose into the air like a
broken chalice, chasing the shadows to their retreats.
As he watched it the driver of the grain wagon recalled again the
old Indian legend that haunted this valley and had given it its
namehow, long ago, a young Indian chieftain was paddling his canoe
through these waters on his way to win a bride when suddenly above the
night wind's melancholy song he heard a voice calling him through the
twilight. Qu'appelle? Qu'appelle? he answered in French. Who calls?
But only his own voice came back in echoes while the gloom of night
deepened and a wan moon rose silently behind the distant hill. Then
when he reached the Indian encampment it was only to see the death
fires lighted on the shore, to hear the wail of women and to learn that
just before her lips had closed forever, his beloved had called for
himjust at the moon-rise. Thus, ever since, the Indians claimed,
strange spirit voices spoke through the lone valley at every rising of
Thrilled by the beauty of the valley scene, misty in the moonlight,
the big farmer half unconsciously drew rein and listened. All he could
hear at first was the impatient stamp of his horses' feet, the mouthing
of the bits as the animals tossed their heads restlessly, the clink of
the trace-chains; but presently he sensed a subdued undertone of night
noises that wafted mysteriously over the silver water. It was nothing
that could be recognized definitely; rather was it an impression of
strangely merged minor sounds that grew upon him as imagination was
given play under the influence of time and place. It was easy to supply
interpretations of that faint medley, even while one knew that it was
merely the murmur of night airs in the dry grasses, the whisper of the
water-edges, the stirring of restless water-fowl in the dying reeds.
The man who had ridden all day with his thoughts began unconsciously
to apply other meanings to the sound, to people the night with dim
faces and shapes that came trooping over the edge of the tablelands
abovetoil-bent figures of old pioneer farmers, care-worn faces of
women and bright eager faces of little children who were holding out
their hands trustfully to the future. There seemed to be a never-ending
processionfaces that were apathetic from repeated disappointments,
faces that scowled threateningly, brave faces tense with determination
and sad faces on which was written the story of struggle hidden within
many a lonely wind-buffeted shack on the great bosom of the prairie.
Was it, then, that all the years of toil and hardship were to come
to naught for this great company of honest workers, these brave pioneer
men and women of the soil? Was all their striving forward to find them
merely marking time, shouldered into the backwater while the currents
of organized commercialism swept away their opportunities? Were not
these producers of the world's bread themselves to partake of the
fruits of their labor?
Yes! Surely the answer was Yes! It was their Right. Wrong
could not endure forever in the face of Right; else were the world a
poor place, Life itself a failure, the mystic beauty of God's calm
night a mockery.
The man from Abernethy roused himself. It would be nearly dawn
before his team would reach their home stalls. He whistled to the
horses and they plunged into the black shadows of the coulee up which
the trail rose in steep ascent from the valley. When they emerged into
the moonlight he drew rein for a moment.
Somewhere back in a forgotten arroyo a coyote yapped lonesomely.
Around through the night were flung the distant glow-dots of the
burning straw piles, and as he filled his lungs with the fresh sweet
air the hope of better days warmed the heart of the belated traveller.
The Hand which set the orbits of the universe created the laws of Truth
and Justice and these never could be gainsaid. Everything would come
out aright if only men were steadfast in faith and duty.
He gave the horses their heads and they were off once more through
the cool night upon the wheatland sea that was bounded only by far
 The provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta, Western Canada, were
not created until 1906. Prior to that the entire country west of the
Province of Manitoba was known as the North-West Territories, of which
the District of Assiniboia was a part, the part which subsequently
formed the southern portion of the Province of Saskatchewan.
 Hon. W. R. Motherwell, Minister of Agriculture, Province of
CHAPTER II. A CALL TO ARMS
And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people: and as
one gathereth eggs that are left, have I gathered all the earth.
For five thousand years Man has grown wheat for food. Archaeologists
have found it buried with the mummies of Egypt; the pictured stones of
the Pyramids record it. But it was the food of princes, not of
peasantsof the aristocracy, not of the people; for no man could
harvest enough of it with his sickle to create a supply which would
place it within the reach of the poor. While century after century
has passed since wheat was first recognized as the premier nourishment
for the human body, it is only of recent times that it has become the
food of the nations.
The swift development of grain growing into the world's greatest
industry goes back for a small beginning to 1831. It was in that year
that a young American-born farm boy of Irish-Scotch extraction was
jeered and laughed at as he attempted to cut wheat with the first crude
reaper; but out of Cyrus Hall McCormick's invention soon grew the
wonderful harvesting machinery which made possible the production of
wheat for export. Close on heel the railways and water-carriers began
competing for the transportation of the grain, the railways pushing
eagerly in every direction where new wheat lands could be tapped. In
1856 wheat was leaving Chicago for Europe and four years later grain
vessels from California were rounding Cape Horn. The nine years that
followed saw the conquest of the vast prairies of the American West
which were crossed by the hissing, iron monsters that stampeded the
frightened bison, out-ran the wild horses and out-stayed the lurking
No sooner had the railways pushed back the frontier than wheat began
to trickle steadily upon the market, to flow with increased volume,
then to pour in by train-loads. Sacks were discarded for quicker
shipment in bulk; barns and warehouses filled and spilled till adequate
storage facilities became the vital problem and, the need mothering
invention, F. H. Peavey came forward with an ideaan endless chain of
metal cups for elevating grain. From this the huge modern elevator
evolved to take its place as the grain's own particular storehouse.
With the establishment of exchanges for conducting international buying
and selling the universalizing of wheat was complete.
These things had come to pass while that great region which is now
Western Canada was still known as a Great Lone Land. Pioneer settlers,
however, were beginning to venture westward to the newly organized
Province of Manitoba and beyond. The nearest railroad was at St. Paul,
Minnesota, from which point a prairie schooner trail led north for
450 miles to Winnipeg at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine
rivers; the alternative to this overland tented-wagon route was a
tedious trip by Red River steamer. It was not until 1878 that a railway
was built north into Manitoba from St. Paul; but it was followed
shortly after by the projection of the Canadian Pacific Railway, which
reached Vancouver in 1886.
Then began what has been called the greatest wheat-rush ever known.
Land, land without end, to be had for the askingrich land that would
grow wheat, forty bushels to the acre, millions of acres of it!
Fabulous tales, winging east and south, brought settlers pouring into
the new country. They came to grow wheat and they grew it, the finest
wheat in the world. They grew it in ever increasing volume.
Successful operation of new railroadseven ordinary railroadsis
not all glistening varnish and bright new signal flags. The Canadian
Pacific was no ordinary railway. It was a young giant, reaching for the
western skyline with temerity, and it knew Trouble as it knew sun and
wind and snow. The very grain which was its life-blood gorged the
embryo system till it choked. The few elevators and other facilities
provided could not begin to handle the crop, even of 1887, the heavy
yield upsetting all calculations. The season for harvesting and
marketing being necessarily short, the railroad became the focus of a
sudden belch of wheat; it required to be rushed to the head of the
lakes in a race with the advancing cold which threatened to congeal the
harbor waters about the anxiously waiting grain boats before they could
clear. With every wheel turning night and day no ordinary rolling stock
could cope with the demands; for the grain was coming in over the
trails to the shipping points faster than it could be hauled out and
the railroad was in a fix for storage accommodation.
It was easy to see that such seasonal rushes would be a permanent
condition in Western Canada, vital but unavoidable; so the Canadian
Pacific Railway Company cast about for alleviations. They hit upon the
plan of increasing storage facilities rapidly by announcing that the
Company would make special concessions to anyone who would build
elevators along the line with a capacity of not less than 26,000
bushels and equipped with cleaning machinery, steam or gasoline
powerin short, standard elevators. The special inducement offered
was nothing more nor less than an agreement that at points where such
elevators were erected the railway company would not allow cars to be
loaded with grain through flat warehouses, direct from farmers'
vehicles or in any other way than through such elevators; the only
condition was that the elevator owners would furnish storage and
shipping facilities, of course, for those wishing to store or ship
At once the noise of hammer and saw resounded along the
right-of-way. Persons and corporations whose business it was to mill
grain, to buy and export it, were quick to take advantage of the
opportunity; for the protection offered by the railway meant that here
was shipping control of the grain handed out on a silver platter,
garnished with all the delectable prospects of satisfying the keenest
On all sides protests arose from the few owners of ordinary
warehouses who found their buildings useless, once the overtopping
elevator went up alongsidefrom small buyers who found themselves
being driven out of the market with the flat warehouses. But these
voices were drowned in the swish of grain in the chutes and the
staccato of the elevator engineslost in the larger exigencies of the
wheat. The railway company held to their promises and the tall grain
boxes reared their castor tops against the sky in increasing clusters.
To operate a standard elevator at a country point with profit it was
considered necessary in the early days to fill it three times in a
season unless the owner proposed to deal in grain himself and make a
buyer's profit in addition to handling grain for others. The cost of
building and operating the class of elevator demanded by the railway
company was partly responsible for this. Before long the number of
elevators in Manitoba and the North-West Territories increased till it
was impossible for all of them to obtain the three fillings per season
even had their owners been inclined to perform merely a handling
But those who had taken up the railway's offer with such avidity and
had invested large sums of shareholders' capital in building the
elevator accommodation were mostly shrewd grain dealers whose primary
object was to buy and sell. These interested corporations were not
constructing elevators in order to admire their silhouettes against the
beautiful prairie sunsets! In every corner of the earth the Dollar
Almighty, or its equivalent, was being stalked by all sorts and
conditions of men, some of whom chased it noisily and openly while
others hunted with their boots in one hand. Properly enough, the grain
men were out for all that their investment could earn and for all the
wheat which they could buy at one price and sell at another. That was
their business, just as it was the business of the railway company to
transport the grain at a freight rate which would net a profit, just as
it was the farmer's business
But to the farmer it seemed that he had no business! He merely grew
the grain. Apparently a farmer was a pair of pants, a shirt and a
slouch hat that sat on a wagon-load of wheat, drove it up the incline
into the elevator and rattled away again for another load! To farm was
an occupation easily parsedsubjunctive mood, past tense, passive
voice! The farmer was third person, singular! He came and went in
single file like an Indian or a ChinamanJohn Doe, Yon Yonson and
Johann X (his mark)every kind of Johnny on no spot but his own! As
soon as his grain was dumped each of him went back to the land among
the dumb animals where the pomp and vanity of this wicked world would
not interfere with preparations for next year's crop!
Wheat was bought upon the grading systemso much per bushel for
this grade, so much for that, according to the fluctuations of supply
and demand upon the world's markets. But the average farmer at that
time knew little or nothing about what went on in the great exchanges
of the cities; there was no means of learning the intricacies of the
grain business and many farmers even did not know what a grain exchange
was. All such a man knew was that his wheat was graded and he received
a certain price for it.
The railway company's refusal to furnish cars for loading direct
from the farmer's wagon compelled the shipper to sell to the elevator
operator for whatever price he could get, accepting whatever weights
the operator allowed and whatever dockage he chose to decree. The
latter represented that portion of the farmer's delivery which was
supposed to come through the cleaning sieves as waste material such as
dirt, weed seeds, broken wheat kernels, etc. To determine the
percentage of dockage in any given load of wheat the ordinary human
being would require to weigh and clean a pound of it at least; but so
expert were many of the elevator operators of those days that they had
no trouble at all in arriving at the dockage by a single glance. Nor
were they disconcerted by the fact that the country was new and grain
frequently came from the thresher in a remarkably clean condition.
With everything thus fallow for seeds of discord the Big Trouble was
not long in making itself manifest. All over the country the Bumping of
the Bumpkins apparently became the favorite pastime of elevator men.
Certain persons with most of their calluses on the inside cracked the
whip and the three-ring circus began. Excessive dockage, short weights,
depressed prices! The farmers grew more and more bitter as time passed.
To begin with, they resented being compelled by the railway to deal
with the elevators; it was a violation of that liberty which they had a
right to enjoy as British citizens. The grain was theirs to sell where
they liked, and when on top of the refusal to let them do it came this
bleeding of their crops, their indignation was fanned to white heat.
It was useless for the farmers to build elevators of their own; for
these had to conform to the requirements of the railway and, as already
stated, it was impossible to run them profitably without making a
buyer's profit in addition to the commission for handling and storage.
The farmers were not buyers but sellers of grain and with very few
exceptions, where conditions were specially favorable, the farmers'
elevators that were attempted were soon in difficulties.
Leading farmers began to write strong letters to the newspapers and
it was not long before the agitation became so widespread that it
reached the floor of Parliament. Mr. James M. Douglas, member for East
Assiniboia, during two successive sessions introduced Bills to regulate
the shipping and transportation of grain in Manitoba and the North-West
Territories and these were discussed in the House of Commons. A Special
Committee of the House was appointed finally to investigate the merits
of the case and as considerable difference of opinion was expressed as
to the actual facts, the appointment of a Royal Commission to make a
full and impartial investigation of the whole subject in the public
interest was recommended.
This Royal Commission accordingly was appointed on October 7th,
1899, and consisted of three Manitoba farmersW. F. Sirett, of
Glendale; William Lothian, of Pipestone, and Charles C. Castle, of
Foxtonwith His Honor E. J. Senkler, of St. Catharines, Ontario, as
Chairman; Charles N. Bell, of Winnipeg, acted as Secretary. Owing to
the illness and death of Judge Senkler, Albert Elswood Richards
(afterwards the late Hon. Mr. Justice Richards, of Winnipeg), succeeded
as Chairman in February, 1900.
Sittings were held at many places throughout Manitoba and the
North-West Territories and much evidence was taken as to the grievances
complained of, these being mainly: (1) That vendors of grain were being
subjected to unfair and excessive dockage at the time of sale; (2) That
doubt existed as to the fairness of the weights allowed or used by
owners of elevators; (3) That the owners of elevators enjoyed a
monopoly in the purchase of grain by refusing to permit the erection of
flat warehouses where standard elevators were situated and were thus
able to keep prices of grain below true value to their own benefit and
the disadvantage of the public generally as well as others who were
specially interested in the grain trade.
Meanwhile the railway companies had hastened to announce that they
would furnish cars to farmers who wished to ship direct and do their
own loading. This concession, made in 1898-9, resulted in somewhat
better prices and better treatment from the elevator operators. But
farmers who lived more than four or five miles from the shipping points
could not draw in their grain fast enough to load a car within the time
allowed by the railway; so that the situation, so far as these farmers
were concerned, remained practically unchanged.
In March, 1900, the Royal Commission made a complete report. They
had done their work thoroughly. They found that so long as any farmer
was hampered in shipping to terminal markets himself he would be more
or less at the mercy of elevator operators and that the only proper
relief from the possibility of undue dockage and price depression was
to be found in the utmost freedom of shipping and selling. To this end
they considered that the railroads should be compelled by law to
furnish farmers with cars for shipping their own grain and that flat
warehouses should be allowed so that the farmer could have a bin in
which to accumulate a carload of grain, if he so wished. This, the
commissioners thought, should be the farmer's legal right rather than
his privilege. Loading platforms for the free use of shippers were also
It was the further opinion of the Commission that the law should
compel elevator and warehouse owners to guarantee the grades and
weights of a farmer's grain and to do this the adoption of a uniform
grain ticket system was suggested. At the same time, the commissioners
pointed out, these guarantees might lead to such careful grading and
docking by the elevator operator as might appear to the farmer to be
undergrading or overdocking; so that the farmer's right to load direct
on cars was a necessary supplementary protection.
The annual shortage of cars during the rush season following harvest
was found to be a direct cause of depression in prices. When cars were
not available for immediate shipments the grain soon piled up on the
elevator companies who were thereby forced to miss the cheaper
transportation by boat from the head of the lakes or assume the risk of
carrying over the grain until the following spring; in buying,
therefore, they naturally allowed a wide margin to cover all possible
contingencies. Increase of transportation facilities during October and
November accordingly was imperative.
With no rules to regulate the grain trade except those laid down by
the railways and the elevator owners, the need was great for definite
legislation similar to that which obtained in the State of Minnesota
and, as a result of the Royal Commission's recommendations, the
Manitoba Grain Act was placed upon the statutes and became operative in
1900. To supervise the carrying out of the law in connection with the
grain trade a Warehouse Commissioner was appointed, Mr. C. C. Castle
who acted on the Royal Commission being selected for this responsible
A sigh of relief went up from many intelligent farmers who had begun
to worry over the conditions developing; for they looked upon the
Manitoba Grain Act as a sort of Magna Charta. With the grain trade
under official control and supervision along the lines laid down by the
Royal Commission, they felt that everything would be alright now. It
was like calling in a policeman to investigate suspicious noises in the
house; like welcoming the doctor's arrival upon an occasion of sudden
and severe illness. Unfortunately, the patient's alarming symptoms
sometimes continue; sometimes the thief makes a clean get-away; King
John had no sooner left Runnymede than he proceeded to ignore the Great
Charter and plan new and heavier scutages upon the people!
Up till now the elevator owners had been operating with nothing more
definite than a fellowship of interests to hold them together; but upon
appearance of the Grain Act they proceeded to organize the North West
Elevator Association, afterwards called the North West Grain Dealers'
Association. By agreeing on the prices which they would pay for wheat
out in the country and by pooling receipts the members of such an
organization, the farmers suspected, would be in a position to strangle
competition in buying.
The new Act was aiming point blank at these very things by affording
the farmer an opportunity of loading his grain direct into cars through
flat warehouses, if he chose, and shipping where he liked. But because
many farmers did not know with just what the new weapon was loaded or
how to pull the trigger, the railways and elevators merely stepped up
and smilingly brushed the whole thing aside as something which were
better hanging on a high peg out of harm's way.
The crop of 1900 being comparatively light, the ignoring of the
car-distribution clauses of the Act did not obtrude as brazenly as it
did the year following. But when grain began to pour in to the shipping
points in 1901 and the farmers found the railway unheeding their
requests for cars their disgust and disappointment were as complete as
their anger was swift. It was the rankling disappointment of men whose
rights have been officially decreed only to be unofficially annulled;
it was the hot anger of a slap in the facethe anger that makes men
fight with every ounce of their strength.
The quick welling of it planted anxiety in the minds of such
level-headed farmers as W. R. Motherwell and Peter Dayman, of
Abernethy; Williams, of Balcarres; Snow, of Wolseley; Sibbold and
Millar, of Indian Head. While the two latter were riding into town with
wheat one day John Sibbold suggested to John Millar that, as secretary
of the local Agricultural Society, it might be a good thing if he
called a meeting to talk things over. It was the high state of feeling
manifested at this meeting which furnished W. R. Motherwell with food
for thought on the lonely Qu'Appelle trail. And it was the idea that it
might be advisable to hold similar mass meetings throughout the country
that brought Peter Dayman driving over to the Motherwell place, not
long after, to discuss it.
These two men had been friends and neighbors since 1883. Each of
them felt that the time had come for definite action of some kind and
they spent the greater part of the day in talking over the situation in
search of the most practical plan of campaign. There was little use in
the farmers attempting to organize in defence of their own interests
unless the effort were absolutely united and along broader lines than
those of any previous farmers' organization. Politics, they both
agreed, would have to be kept out of the movement at all costs or it
would land on the rocks of defeat in the same way that the Farmers'
Union and Patrons of Industry had been wrecked.
It was in the middle eighties when the West was settled but sparsely
that the farmers had attempted to improve their lot by the formation of
Farmers' Unions. The movement had had a brief and not very brilliant
career and as the offspring of this attempt at organization some
progressives with headquarters at Brandon, Manitoba, had tried to enter
the grain trade as an open company. When one of the chief officers of
this concern defected in an attempt to get rich the failure dragged
down the earnest promoters to deep financial losses.
Again in the early nineties the farmers had rebelled at their
pioneer hardships by organizing the Patrons of Industry, a movement
which had gained strength and for a while looked healthy. It had got
strong enough to elect friends to the Legislature and was sowing good
seed when again temptation appeared, centred in the lure of commercial
success and politics. Some of the chief officers began to misuse the
organization for selfish ends and away went the whole thing.
There was no use in repeating these defeats. Couldn't some way be
devised of sidestepping such pitfalls? The great weakness of the
farmers was their individual independence; if they could be taught to
stand together for their common interests there was hope that something
might be accomplished.
The sitting-room clock ticked away the hours unheeded as these two
far-sighted and conscientious farmers lost themselves in earnest
discussion. The lamps were lighted, but still they planned.
Finally W. R. Motherwell reached across the table for a pad of
note-paper and drafted the call to armsa letter which summoned the
men of Wolseley, Sintaluta and Indian Head, of Qu'Appelle, Wideawake
and other places to gather for action. There and then copies
were written out for every leading farmer within reach, and in order
that no political significance might be attached to the call, both men
signed the letters.
When Peter Dayman drove away from the Motherwell place that night
perhaps he scarcely realized that he carried in his pocket the fate of
the farmers of Western Canada. Neither he, W. R. Motherwell, nor any
other man could have foretold the bitter struggles which those letters
were destined to unleashthe stirring events that were impending.
 Wheat was first grown in Canada in 1606 at Port Royal (now
Annapolis) in Nova Scotia, where Champlain and Pourtincourt built a
fort and established a small colony. A plot of ground was made ready
and wheat planted. It grew under the snow, said Pourtincourt, and in
the following midsummer it was harvested.
CHAPTER III. THE FIRST SHOT IS FIRED
Let us have faith that Right makes Might, and in that faith let us
dare to do our duty as we understand it.Abraham Lincoln.
The eighteenth of December, 1901, was a memorable day in the little
prairie town of Indian Head. Strangers from East and West had begun to
arrive the night before and early in the day the accommodations were
taxed to the limit while the livery stables were overflowing with the
teams of farmers from every direction. All forenoon the trails were
dotted with incoming sleighs and the groups which began to congregate
on Main Street grew rapidly in size and number. The shop-keepers had
stayed up half the night to put the final touches to their holiday
decorations and make their final preparations for the promised rush of
Many prominent men would grace the town with their presence before
nightfall. The Premier of the North-West Territories, Hon. F. W. G.
Haultain, would be on hand, as well as Hon. G. H. V. Bulyea and Senator
William D. Perley; coming to meet them here would be Premier R. P.
Roblin and other gentlemen of Manitoba. Certain boundary matters,
involving the addition of a part of Assiniboia to the Province of
Manitoba, were to be discussed at a public meeting in the Town Hall at
Messrs. Motherwell and Dayman had chosen their date well, many
farmers having planned already to be at Indian Head on the 18th. The
grain growers' meeting was announced for the afternoon and so keen was
the interest that when order was called the chairman faced between
sixty and seventy-five farmers, as well as a number of public men,
instead of the dozen-or-so whom W. R. Motherwell had ventured to
Although it was December out of doors, the temperature of that
meeting was about one hundred in the shade! As the discussion expanded
feeling ran high. Farmer after farmer got to his feet and told the
facts as he knew them, his own personal experiences and those of his
neighbors. There was no denying the evidence that it was full time the
farmers bestirred themselves.
W. R. Motherwell and Peter Dayman spoke earnestly in favor of
immediate organization along strong, sane lines. The farmer was always
referred to as the most independent man on earth, and so he was; but it
was individual independence only. He had come lumbering into the
country behind his own oxen with his family and all his worldly goods
in his own wagon; had built a roof over their heads with his own hands.
Alone on the prairie, he had sweated and wrestled with the problem of
getting enough to eat. One of the very first things the pioneer learned
was to stand on his own two feetto do things by himself. His
isolation, the obstacles he had overcome by his own planning, the
hardships he had endured and survivedthese were the excuses for his
assertiveness, his individualism, his hostility to the restrictions of
organization. He was a horse for work; but it was an effort for him to
do team work because he was not used to it.
This was the big barrier which would have to be surmounted in the
beginning if battle were to be waged successfully against present
oppressive conditions. The right kind of organization was the key that
would unlock a happier future. The farmer was as much a producer as any
manufacturer who made finished articles out of raw material; but his
was the only business in which full energies were expended upon
production of goods to sell while the marketing end was left for the
other fellow to organize. That was why he was obliged to do as he was
told, take what was given him or haul his wheat home and eat it
Like all such meetings, it was not without its few pails of cold
water. These were emptied by some who hinted dark things about
political reasons, and it was easy to make the trite statement that
history repeats itself and to predict that the formation of such a
farmers' association as was proposed would be riding only for the same
fall which had overtaken former attempts. The enthusiasm refused to be
dampened and it broke out in unmistakable accents when without waste of
words Angus McKay nominated W. R. Motherwell as provisional President
of the Territorial Grain Growers' Association. John Millar as
provisional Secretary and a board of directors were quickly chosen.
When it was all over and Senator William D. Perley rose slowly to
his feet, it was to deliver a parting message of confidence that the
farmers were taking the right step in the right manner. There were few
men who could be listened to with greater respect than the elderly
Senator and as the silence of his audience deepened it was almost as if
the white-haired gentleman's dignified words were prophetic. He had
been familiar with a somewhat similar movement in New Brunswick, he
said, and back there by the Atlantic this movement was still very much
alive and doing good work. Long after those who were present at this
meeting had passed away, it was his prediction that this newborn
organization of prairie farmers would be living still, still expanding
and still performing a useful service to the farmers generally.
The meeting adjourned with the general feeling that at last matters
were advancing beyond mere talk. The sixth of January was set as the
date for a second meeting to draft a constitution and prepare a
definite plan of campaign. Emphasis was laid upon the importance of a
good attendance; but when the date arrived the leaders of the new
movement were disappointed to find that, including themselves, there
were just eleven farmers present. While this did not look very
promising, they proceeded with their plans and it is a tribute to the
careful thought expended at that time that the constitution then framed
has stood the test of many years, even much of the exact phraseology
remaining to-day. The idea of having local associations scattered
throughout the country, each with its own officers, governed by a
central organization with its special officers, was adopted from the
Among those present was C. W. Peterson, Deputy Commissioner of
Agriculture for the North-West Territories. He freely offered his
services in the capacity of secretary; but the offer was turned down so
flat and so quickly that it was breath-taking. The incident reflected
very vividly the jealousy with which the farmers were guarding the new
movement rather than any depreciation of the Deputy Commissioner's
ability; every man of them was on the alert to deflect the thinnest
political wedge, imagined or otherwise, that might come along. They
would trust nobody with an official connection and the appointment of
John Millar, who was one of themselves, was confirmed without loss of
time. There was no salary attached to any office, of course; nobody
thought of salaries. The farmers who knew the feel of spare cash in
those days were seventh sons of seventh sons.
Winter and all as it was, the leaders of the young organization did
not let the snow pack under their feet. No sooner were the
preliminaries over than they set about preparing for the first
convention of the Association by hitching up and travelling the
country, organizing local associations. W. R. Motherwell, John Millar
and Matt. Snow, of Wolseley, tucked the robes around them and jingled
away in different directions. Wherever they went they were listened to
eagerly and the resulting action was instantaneous. The movement took
hold of the farmers like wildfire; so that by February thirty-eight
local grain growers' associations had been formed, each sending
enthusiastic delegates to the first Annual Convention, which was held
at Indian Head in February, 1902.
All that summer, pacing the rapidly growing wheat, the Territorial
Grain Growers' Association spread and took root till by harvest time it
was standing everywhere in the field, a thrifty and full-headed
champion of farmers' rights, lacking only the ripening of experience.
There had been as yet no particular opportunity to demonstrate its
usefulness in dollars and cents; but with the approach of the fall and
market season the whole organization grew tense with expectancy. There
seemed little reason to believe that the railway people would do other
than attempt to continue their old methods of distributing cars where
and when they chose and to disregard, as before, those provisions of
the Grain Act which aimed to protect the farmer in getting his fair
share of cars in which to load direct.
Thus it soon turned out. The officers of the Association at once
warned the Canadian Pacific Railway Company that if they persisted in
such practice the farmers would be compelled to take legal action
against them. It looked so much like the attack of a toddling child
against a man full grown that the big fellow laughed good-naturedly.
Who, pray, were the Territorial Grain Growers' Association?
We represent the farmers of Western Canada, retorted the unabashed
officers of the little organization and we want what the law allows us
as our right. What's more, we propose to get it!
That was about the message which W. R. Motherwell and Peter Dayman
went down to Winnipeg to deliver in person to the Canadian Pacific
Railway Company. The official whom they interviewed manipulated the
necessary levers to start the matter on its way through the proper
channels towards that serious consideration into which all good
politicians and corporation officials take everything that comes
unexpectedly before them. W. R. Motherwell could not wait for the
unfolding of this hardy perennial and left Peter Dayman at Winnipeg to
follow up developments.
When the latter got back home he brought with him a bagful of
promises. The practical improvement in the situation which was to
support these promises, however, evidently got wrapped up in somebody
else's order and delivered to another address. As soon as the
Association were satisfied that relief was not to be forthcoming they
promptly filled out a standard form of information and complaint and
notified the railway that they were going to take legal action at
Sintaluta against the Company's station agent; if no results were
forthcoming there, they assured the Company, they would take action
against every railway agent in the Territories who was guilty of
distributing cars contrary to the provisions of the Grain Act. The
complaint went before Mr. C. C. Castle, the official Warehouse
Commissioner; the information was laid before Magistrate H. O.
Partridge at Sintaluta.
All over the country the newspapers began to devote valuable space
to the impending trial. It was talked about in bar-rooms and
barber-shops. Some anti-railroaders declared at once that the farmers
hadn't a minute's chance to win against the C. P. R. The news
percolated eastward, its significance getting lighter till it became
merely: a bunch of fool hayseeds out West in some kind of trouble with
the C. P. R.cows run over, or something. At Ottawa, however, were
those who saw handwriting on the wall and they awaited the outcome with
considerable interest. Several public men, especially from Regina, made
ready to be in actual attendance at the preliminary trial.
The farmers were out in force, for they realized the importance of
this test case. It was not the agent at Sintaluta they were fighting,
but the railway itself; it was not this specific instance of unjust car
distribution that would be settled, but all other like infringements
along the line. The very efficacy of the Grain Act itself was
Two hours before the Magistrate's Court sat to consider the case, J.
A. M. Aikins (now Sir James Aikins, Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba),
who was there as the legal representative of the C. P. R., tapped the
President of the farmers' Association on the elbow.
Let's make a real case of it while we're at it, he smiled, and
proceeded to suggest that instead of laying information against the
railway company on two charges, the Association should charge them also
with violating some five or six other sections of the Act. Then we'll
have a decision on them, too, you see. For the purpose of this case the
Company will plead guilty to the offences. What do you say?
Don't you do it, W. R.! Not on your life, Mister!
The farmers within earshot crowded about the two. They suspected
trickery in such a last-minute suggestion; either the railway people
were very sure they had the case in their pocket or they were up to
some smooth dodge, you bet!
President Motherwell shook his head dubiously.
How can we change the information on such short notice? he
objected. It would mean risking an adjournment of the court.
That's what they're after! Stick to him, Motherwell!
But it did seem very advisable to have the meaning of those other
doubtful sections of the Act cleared up, and as C. P. R. counsel went
more fully into the matter the desirability of it for both sides became
even more apparent.
Tell you what we'll do, Mr. Aikins, said W. R. Motherwell, finally
turning to him after consulting the others, if you'll give your
pledged word before this assembled crowd of farmers that you won't take
any technical advantage of the change you've suggested us making in the
informationby raising objections when court opens, I meanwhy, we'll
make the change.
Certainly, agreed Mr. Aikins without hesitation, and in solemn
silence he and the President of the Association shook hands.
This alteration in the information made the issue even more
far-reaching and it was a tense moment for the farmers who packed the
little court room when the Magistrate opened proceedings and on behalf
of the Warehouse Commissioner, Mr. T. Q. Mathers (now Chief Justice
Mathers, of Winnipeg), rose to his feet for argument. After the
evidence was complete and the Magistrate at last handed down his
decisionfifty dollars fine and costs, to be paid by the
defendantthe victorious grain growers were jubilant and especially
were the officers of the young Association proud of the outcome.
The case was carried to the Supreme Court by the Railway Company,
which made every effort to have the decision of the lower court
reversed. When the appeal case came to trial, much to the disgust and
chagrin of the railway authorities and the corresponding elation of the
farmers, the Magistrate's decision was sustained. At once the
newspapers all over the country were full of it. Oracles of bar-room
and barber-shop nodded their heads wisely; hadn't they said that even
the C. P. R. couldn't win against organized farmers, backed up by the
law of the land? Away East the news was magnified till it became: The
farmers out West have licked the C. P. R. in court and are threatening
to tear up the tracks! At Ottawa Members of Parliament dug into
Hansard to see if they had said anything when the Manitoba Grain Act
Empty cars began to roll into Western sidings and they were not all
spotted to suit the elevators but were for farmers who had signified a
desire to load direct. It was unnecessary to carry out the threat of
proceeding against every delinquent railway agent in the Territories;
for the delinquencies were no longer deliberate. The book in which by
turn the orders for cars were listed began to be a more honest record
of precedence in distribution, as all good car-order books should be.
For the railway authorities were men of wide experience and ability,
who knew when they were defeated and how to accept such defeat
gracefully. It meant merely that the time had come to recognize the
fact that there was a man inside the soil-grimed shirt. The farmer had
won his spurs. While the railway people did not like the action of the
Association in hauling them into court, in all fairness they were ready
to admit that they had received full warning before such drastic action
If the railway officials began to regard the farmer in a new light,
the latter on his part began to appreciate somewhat more fully the task
which faced these energetic men in successfully handling the giant
organization for which they assumed responsibility. After the tilt,
therefore, instead of the leaders of the grain growers and the railway
looking at each other with less friendly eyes, their relations became
more kindly as each began to entertain for the other a greater respect.
Best of all, applications were beginning to pour in upon the
Secretary of the Territorial Grain Growers' Associationapplications
from farmers everywhere for admission to the organization. Skeptics who
had been holding out now enrolled with their local association and, as
fast as they could be handled, new locals were being formed.
And at this very time, over in the hotel at Sintaluta, a grain
grower of great ability and discernment was warning an interested group
of farmers against the dangers of over-confidence.
At present we are but pygmies attacking giants, declared E. A.
Partridge. Giants may compete with giants, pygmies with pygmies, but
pygmies with giants, never. We are not denizens of a hamlet but
citizens of a world and we are facing the interlocking financial,
commercial and industrial interests of a thousand million people. If we
are to create a fighting force by co-operation of the workers to meet
the giants created by the commercial co-operation of the owners, we
have scarcely started. If we seek permanent improvement in our
financial position and thereby an increase of comfort, opportunity and
sense of security in our lives and the lives of our families, the fight
will be long and hard.
And we are going to need every man we can muster.
 See AppendixPar. 1.
CHAPTER IV. THAT MAN PARTRIDGE!
Any man can work when every stroke of his hand brings down the fruit
rattling from the tree to the ground; but to labor in season and out of
season, under every discouragement, by the power of faith . . . that
requires a heroism which is transcendent. And no man, I think, ever
puts the plow into the furrow and does not look back, and sows good
seed therein, that a harvest does not follow.Henry Ward Beecher.
It was a handy place to live, that little tar-paper shanty around
which the prairie wind whooed and whiffed with such disdain. So small
was it that it was possible to wash oneself, dress oneself and get
breakfast without getting out of bed. On the wall was a shelf which did
duty as a table. There were also a little box stove and some odds and
ends. When the roof leaked, which was every time it rained, it was
necessary to put pans on the bed to catch the drip.
But it was better than the tent in which E. A. Partridge and his
brother slept through their first star-strewn winter nights on the open
prairiemore pretentious than the tent and assuredly not so cold. The
two boys were proud of it, even though they were fresh from
civilizationfrom Simcoe County, Ontario, where holly-hocks topped the
fences of old-fashioned flower gardens in summer and the houses had
shingles on top to keep out the weather, and where there were no
coyotes to howl lonesomely at night, whereWell, never mind. Those
houses belonged to other people; the shanty was theirs. All around
stretched acres and acres of snow; but there was land under that
snowrich, new landand that was theirs, too, by right of
It was about Christmas time in 1883 when E. A. Partridge was
twenty-one. The place was near Sintaluta, District of Assiniboia,
North-West Territories, and homesteading there in the days before the
Rebellion was no feather bed for those who tackled it. A piece of
actual money was a thing to take out and look at every little while, to
show to one's friends and talk about.
Season after season the half starved agricultural pathfinders lost
their hard-earned crops by drouth and what was not burned out by the
sun was eaten by ubiquitous gophers. The drouth was due, no doubt, to
the frequent prairie fires which swept the country; these found birth
in the camp-fire coals left by ignorant or careless settlers on their
way in. Under the rays of the summer sun the blackened ground became so
hot that from it ascended a column of scorching air which interfered
with the condensation of vapor preceding the falling of rain. Clouds
would bank up above the prairie horizon, eagerly watched by anxious
homesteaders; but over the burned area the clouds seemed to thin out
without a drop falling upon the parching crops.
Forty-three acres, sown to wheat, was the first crop which the
Partridge brothers put in. The total yield was seven bushels, obtained
from around the edges of a slough!
One by one discouraged settlers gathered together their few
belongings and sought fresh trails. Lone men trudged by, pack on back,
silent and grim. Swearing at his horses, wheels squealing for
axle-grease, tin pans rattling and flashing in the hot morning sun, a
settler with a family stopped one day to ask questions of the two young
men. He was on his waysomewhereno place in particular.
I tell ye, boys, this country ain't no place fer a white man, he
volunteered. When y'ain't freezin' ye're burnin' up, an' that's what
happens in hell! He spat a stream of tobacco juice over the wagon
wheel and clawed his beard, his brown face twisted quizzically. God
A'mighty ain't nowheres near here! He didn't come this fur
Weststopped down to Rat Portage! Well, anyways, good luck to ye
both; but ef ye don't git it, young fellers, don't ye go blamin' me, by
Jupiter! He cracked his whip. Come up out o' that, ye God-forsaken
old skates! And, mud-caked wheels screeching, tin pans banging and
glaring, he jolted back to the trail that led away in distance to No
Place In Particular.
But along with some others who confessed to being poor walkers, the
Partridge boys stuck right where they were. They set about the building
of a more permanent and comfortable shacka sod house this time. It
took more than seven thousand sods, one foot by three, three inches
thick; but when it was finished it was a precocious raindrop or a
mendacious wind that could find its way in.
About thirteen miles distant was a little mud schoolhouse, and one
day E. A. Partridge was asked to go over and teach in it. It was known
that back East, besides working on his father's farm, he had taught
school for awhile. Learning was a truant for the younger generation on
the prairies at that time, there being only a few private schools
scattered here and there. Though it was not much of an opportunity for
anything but something to do, the offer was accepted, and every
morning, after sucking a couple of eggs for a breakfast, E. A.
Partridge took to loping across the prairie on a Shag pony.
But the little school put an idea into his head. He wondered if it
might be worth while starting a private school of his own, and in 1885
he thought the Broadview locality offered profitable prospects. He
decided to go down there and look over the situation.
By this time the occupants of the sod house numbered fourthree
Partridge brothers and a friend. The problem of fitting out the
school-teacher for his Broadview trip so that he would create the
necessary impression among strangers was one which called for
corrugated brows. The solution of it was not to be found in any of the
teacher's few text-books; it quite upset Euclid's idea that things
which were equal to the same thing were equal to one anotherwhen it
came to finding enough parts to make a respectable whole! For among the
four bachelors was not one whole suit of clothes sufficiently
presentable for social events. Everything was rough and ready in those
days and in spite of the hardships the friendly pioneer settlers had
some good times together; but the sod house quartette had never been
seen at any of these gatheringsnot all four at one time! Three of
them were always so busy with this or that work that they had to stay
home, you know; it would have been embarrassing to admit that it was
only by pooling their clothes they could take turns in exhibiting a
neighborly spirit. As it was, there was often a secret fear of
exhibiting even morean anxiety which led the visitor to keep the wall
at his back like a man expecting general excitement to break loose at
On reaching Broadview the prospects for the new school looked
bright, so the hopeful pedagogue sent back word to the sod house to
And don't you fellows forget to send my linen, he wrote jokingly.
Make the trunk heavy, too. I don't know how long it will have to
represent my credit!
When the trunk arrived it was so heavy that it took two men to carry
it into the hotel. When in the secrecy of his own room E. A. Partridge
ventured to look inside he found his few books, a pair of jumper
socksand a lot of stones! Also there was an old duster with a piece
of paper pinned to it, advising: Here's your linen!
The Broadview school did not last long for the reason that the
second North-West Rebellion broke out that year and the teacher joined
the Yorkton Rangers. Fifty cents a day and grub was an alluring
prospect; many a poor homesteader would have joined the ranks on active
service for the grub alone, especially when the time of his absence was
being allowed by the Government to apply on the term set for homestead
duties before he could come into full possession of his land. Many
farmers earned money, also, teaming supplies from the railway north to
Battleford and Prince Albert.
In common with his fellow grain growers, the five years that
followed were years of continuous struggle for E. A. Partridge. The
railway came and the country commenced to settle quickly. The days of
prairie fires that ran amuck gave way to thriving crops; but at thirty
and forty cents per bushel the thriving of those who sowed them was
This man with the snappy blue eyes and caustic tongue was among the
first to foresee the rising colossus, the shadow of which was
creeping slowly across the farmer's path, and he watched the brewing
menace with growing concern. With every ounce of his tremendous energy
he resented the encroachment of Capital upon the liberties of Labor.
Being of the people and temperamentally a democrat, he had a great
yearning for the reorganization of society in the general interest. His
championship in this direction earned him the reputation in some
quarters of being full of fads, a visionary. But his neighbors, who
had toiled and suffered beside him through the years, knew Ed.
Partridge, man to man, and held him in high regard; they admired him
for his human qualities, respected him for his abilities, and wondered
at his theories. On occasion they, too, shook their heads doubtfully.
They could not know the big part in their emancipation which this
friend and neighbor of theirs was destined to play through many days of
crisis. Not yet had the talley begun.
But events even now slowly were shaping. With the winning of their
first clash the farmers' movement was achieving momentum. In the latter
part of December, 1902, down in the town of Virden, Manitoba, a
committee was appointed at a meeting of the Virden Agricultural
Society, to arrange a district meeting for the purpose of organizing
the first Grain Growers' Association in Manitoba. As soon as the date
was set J. W. Scallion wrote to W. R. Motherwell, urgently asking him
to assist in the organization. Although roads and weather were rough,
the President of the Territorial Grain Growers' Association at
considerable inconvenience went down to Virden, taking with him Matt.
Snow and copies of the constitution and by-laws upon which the
Territorial Association was founded, With this assistance a strong
local association was formed at Virden on January 9th, 1903, with
capable officers and a first-year membership of one hundred and
The same difficulties that faced the farmers farther West were being
experienced in Manitoba and the newspapers were full of protesting
letters from country points. As President of the Virden Grain Growers'
Association, J. W. Scallion wrote letters to every place where
complaints were being voiced and urged organization. At every
opportunity it was advocated through the press that from the eastern
boundary of Manitoba to the Rocky Mountains the farmers should organize
themselves for self-defence against oppression, present or possible, by
the interests. In about six weeks over fifteen local associations had
been formed in Manitoba and Virden began calling for a Provincial
association. Accordingly, on March 3rd and 4th, 1903, the Manitoba
grain growers held their first convention at Brandon with one hundred
delegates present, representing twenty-six local associations. Great
enthusiasm marked the event and the officers chosen were all men of
The members of the parent organization watched the rapid expansion
on all sides with sparkling eyes. Their own second annual convention at
Indian Head revealed considerable progress and the promise of greater
things to come. On the invitation of the delegates from the Regina
district it was decided to hold the third annual convention at the
capital and the rousing gathering which met there in due course was
productive of such stimulus and publicity that its effect was felt long
At every convention the farmers found some additional weak spot in
the Grain Act and suggested remedial legislation. Records are lacking
to show in what order the various changes came; but step by step the
farmers were gaining their rights. It all seemed so wonderfulto get
together thus and frame requests of the Government at Ottawa, to find
their very wording incorporated in the Act. The farmers scarcely had
dared to think of such a thing before. To them the ear of a government
was a delicate organism beyond reach, attuned to the acoustics of High
Places only; that it was an ear to hear, an ear to the ground to catch
the voice of the people was a discovery. At any rate when W. R.
Motherwell and J. B. Gillespie, of the Territories, D. W. McCuaig and
R. C. Henders, of Manitoba, went to Ottawa for the first time they were
received with every consideration and many of their requests on behalf
of the farmers granted.
With such recognition and the recurring evidence of advantageous
results the jeering grins of a certain section of the onlooking public
began to sober down to a less disrespectful mien. Those who talked
glibly at first of the other farmers' organizations which they had seen
go to pieces became less free with their forebodings.
In 1904 the farmers began to press for something more than the
proper distribution of cars and the freedom of shipment. They were
dissatisfied with the grading system and the re-inspection machinery.
Some of them claimed that the grading system did not classify wheat
according to its milling value. Some wanted a change in the
Government's staff at the office of the Chief Grain Inspector where the
official grading was done. Some wanted a sample market; some didn't.
The farmers were about evenly divided.
The Department of Agriculture for the Territories commissioned
Professor Robert Harcourt, Chemist of the Ontario Agricultural College,
to conduct tests as to the comparative values of the different grades
of wheat. E. A. Partridge, of Sintaluta, and A. A. Perley, of Wolseley,
undertook to secure eight-bushel samples of the various grades from
their districts. These were carefully sacked and shipped to the Chief
Grain Inspector at Winnipeg, where he graded them and forwarded them to
Professor Harcourt, sealed in such a way that any tampering with the
shipment would be detected readily.
These samples were all of 1903 crop. There had been a bad snowstorm
in September of that year and much wheat had been standing in stook.
The farmers believed that the grain was not frozen or injured in any
way and that they were defrauded to some extent in the grading of their
wheat. The samples represented all grades from No. 1 Hard to Feed.
They were milled with exceptional care to prevent mixing of the various
lots and the flours obtained were put through three different baking
The conclusion reached was that there did not appear to be much
difference in the value of the different grades of wheat. Even the
Feed sample proved by no means useless for bread-making purposes,
either in yield or quality; the only thing that rendered it less
available for bakers' use was its darker color. All who saw the loaves
were surprised at the quality of this bread.
The tests on these 1903 samples confirmed the farmers in their
opinion that on 1903 wheat the spread in price between No. 1 Hard and
No. 4 was not in harmony with the milling quality. From No. 1 Hard the
amount of flour obtained was 70.8 per cent. as against 68 per cent.
from the No. 4 grade. The large percentage of stook-frozen grain that
went into the lower grades because it was technically debarred from the
higher ones no doubt raised the milling value, it was thought, of all
the grades that year.
The Department of Agriculture for the Territories therefore decided
to repeat the tests with 1904 wheat. The samples with which Professor
Harcourt was furnished represented the grain just as it was sold by the
farmer and graded either at the elevator or by the Chief Grain
Inspector; it was not a composite sample of the commercial grades. The
second tests practically confirmed the work done the previous year. The
milling, chemical and baking tests failed to show very wide differences
in the composition and milling value of the grades submitted. The
conclusion reached was that the difference in composition and milling
value was nearly as great between samples of any one grade as between
the various grades.
The farmers began to feel that it would be a good thing to have a
representative at Winnipeg to watch the grading of their cars and to
look after their interests generally. The Department of Agriculture for
the Territories was asked by the Sintaluta grain growers to appoint a
man and W. H. Gaddes was commissioned to act for two weeks. Then the
farmers began to wonder if they could not send down a man of their own;
at one of their meetings the question was put and those present
subscribed five dollars apiece for the purpose.
Thus it came about that on the 7th of January, 1905, there stepped
from the train at the C. P. R. depot in Winnipeg a man who looked no
different from any one of a dozen other farmers who daily reached the
city, tanned of cheek and bright of eye. But his business in town was
of a very special nature. In his pocket was a hundred dollars and the
grip in his hand was packed for a month's stay.
It was a month of cold shoulders and patronizing manners for E. A.
Partridge. No band music was played in his honor, no festive board was
spread, nor was he taken around and shown the sights of the city. On
the contrary, he was made to feel like a spy in the camp of an enemy;
for he found himself entirely without status, the grain dealers
recognizing him merely as a farmers' representative, whatever that was.
Even at the office of the Chief Grain Inspector he was looked upon as a
man who was meddling with something which he wasn't supposed to know
Nevertheless, the Chief Inspector himself gave him information at
times and there were one or two others who took the trouble to explain
some things about which he asked questions. Among the latter was a
grain man by the name of Tom Coulter. For the most part, however, the
presence of the farmers' representative at Winnipeg was looked upon
as a joke; so that information as to the grain business became for him
largely a still hunt. He visited offices, listened to how interviews
were conducted over the telephone and picked up whatever loose ends he
could find to follow up.
Who is that fellow, anyway? asked a grain man who had just got
back to the city. He jerked his thumb over his shoulder.
Oh, him! laughed his partner as he saw who was indicated. Only
that gazabo from Sintaluta who's been nosing around lately. Some
hayseeds out the line sent him down here to learn the grain business.
They believe that all wheat's No. 1 Hard, all grain buyers are thieves,
and that hell's to be divided equally between the railways and the
So that's the guy, eh?that's that man Partridge!
 The new name of Rat Portage is Kenora (Ontario).
 See AppendixPar. 2.
 See AppendixPar. 8.
CHAPTER V. THE HOUSE WITH THE CLOSED
Knock, knock, knock! Who's there, i' the name of Beelzebub? Here's a
farmer . . .Macbeth.
When wheat ceased to be grown for local needs and overflowed upon
the markets of the world, becoming a factor in finance, arenas where
its destiny was decided were established in the large centres of trade.
In these basins of commerce the never-ending flow concentrated and
wheeled for a short space before in re-directed currents it rolled on
its way to ocean ports. Here, according to the novelists, frantic men
were sucked into the golden eddies, their cries strangled and their
fate forgotten even as they were engulfed by the Leviathan with which
they adventured; or they emerged with eyes bloodshot, voices gone and
clothes torn, successful speculators of a day. Perhaps the general
reader is more familiar with these mad scenes of The Pit, as the
trading floor is called, than with the steadily turning marketing
machinery of which they are but a penumbra.
The modern grain exchange is much more than a mere roulette wheel
for the speculator. Its real purpose is to provide a centre for the
legitimate trader. It is a great information bureau of world happenings
where every item of news concerning the wheat in any way is gathered
and classifieddrouth, rain, frost, rust, locusts, hail, Hessian fly,
monsoon or chinch bug. In every corner of the earth where the wheat
streams take their rise, from green blade to brown head the progress of
the crop is recorded and the prospects forecastedon the steppes of
Russia, the pampas of the Argentine, the valley of the San Joaquin, the
prairies of Western Canada and the Dakotas, the fields of India, Iowa,
Illinois and Kansas. Good news, bad news, the movements of ships, the
prices on the corn exchanges of London and Liverpool, at Chicago, on
the bourses of Paris, Antwerp and Amsterdamall are listed. With such
a Timepiece of International Exchange ticking out the doings of
nations, both buyer and seller can know what prices will govern their
dealings. In office or farmhouse an ear to a telephone is all that is
A grain exchange, then, is the market-place where grain dealers meet
to secure information and maintain regulations for the prompt
performance of contracts. The exchange organization does not deal in
grain, but has for its sole purpose the protection of those who do and
the facilitating of transactions; in other words, it is on the ground
to see that the grain trade is carried on in an honest and capable
manner and to punish offenders against proper business ethics and
Its membership is composed of grain dealers doing business in the
exchange's territorymilling companies, exporting companies, line
elevator companies as well as independent dealers and commission men.
Besides seeking a supply of wheat to keep their mills busy for the
season, the milling companies sell wheat. It is the business of the
exporters to make shipment to other countries. Wheat is sold to
exporters and millers by the elevator companies, who are interested in
running as much grain as possible through their elevators at country
points. The chief business of independent dealers is to handle wheat
that stands on track, ready for shipment, either buying outright from
the farmer or handling it for him on a commission basis.
The commission man is in an especially good position to do a
clean-cut business. He assumes no burden of large capital investment
and operating expense, as do the elevator companies. His chief need is
a line of credit at a bank and from this he pays advances to his
clients, his security being the bills of lading of wheat consigned to
him. He does not need to buy or sell on his own account and, unlike the
exporter, he does not have to risk changes in freight rates or in
prices or make deliveries by given dates. As for the satisfactory
milling quality of the cropthat is something for the miller to worry
over. In order to do business it is necessary only for the commission
man to be a member of the exchange and to obey its rules.
For a long time Winnipeg has been known as the greatest primary
wheat market in the world. That means that a greater volume of new
wheat, direct from the producer, passes through the Winnipeg market
than anywhere else, not even excepting Chicago where the first grain
exchange to reach international development was established in 1848.
The Winnipeg market is fed by the vast wheat area of Western Canada and
frequently between two and three million bushels of wheat go through
Winnipeg in a single day. During the rush season sixty or seventy cars
of wheat leave Winnipeg for the East every twenty minutes of every
twenty-four hours. The freight boats on the lakes load 460,000 bushels
in three-and-a-half hours.
It is interesting to note that nowhere else in the world is a great
public grain market like the Winnipeg market found located four hundred
miles away from the storage point where grain dealt in is kept for sale
delivery. Geographically Fort William and Port Arthur at the head of
the great lakes water route would provide the natural delivery point
for Western grain which has been routed eastward and there the
location of the exchange might be looked for logically. It so happens,
however, that the eastern edge of the vast grain fields lies four
hundred miles west of the twin harbors, the country between not being
adapted for farming, and to avoid the delay of mail transit and to
operate the trading effectively it was necessary to locate the exchange
at Winnipeg, the great metropolitan railway centre where the incoming
In Western Canada the grain is stored in bulk by grades, thereby
cheapening handling cost. Unlike most countrieswhich sell grain on
sampleWestern Canadian grain has been sold by grade. The inspection
and grading of wheat, therefore, is a very important factor in the
grain trade of Canada and is in full charge of Dominion Government
officials. Upon their verdict depends the price per bushel which will
be paid for any shipment of grain, market quotations varying for
different grades; whether stored, sold at home or sold abroad their
certificate of grade brands that particular wheat throughout. The huge
river of grain flows in upon them unceasingly; at times the inspectors
have to work at top speed to avoid being engulfed. The variety of
Nature's response to the growing conditions in changing seasons must
not confuse them from year to year; but with sharpened senses and sound
judgment they must steer a sure course through the multiplicity of
grades and grade subdivisions.
The thoroughness of the system adopted by the Grain Inspection
Department is shown by description of the work done at Winnipeg.
Offices and staffs in charge of deputy inspectors are maintained in the
different railway yards. They work in shifts night and day; for during
the mad seventy-or-so days in which the Western crop stampedes for the
lakefront there is no let-up to the in-rolling wheat-bins which come
swaying and grinding in over the rails like beads on a stringthe
endless rosary of harvest thanksgiving. Wheat samples must be obtained
from each car and no train can be moved until a placard has been placed
at the end of it, reading: Grain Inspectors have finished this train.
A fifty-car train can be sampled in about an hour and a half, which is
comfortable time for a change of engines and crews.
The sampling gangs work with all the precision of gun crewseach
man with a particular thing to do. One goes down the train, opening car
doors and leaving an empty sample bag in each car. Running up a short
ladder, the sampler climbs over the top of the inner door, which
extends above the load line; the standard sampler which he uses is a
cylindrical brass rod, so constructed that when it is stabbed to the
bottom of the car the grain which fills it is a correct sample of wheat
at every depth. Seven such samples are procured from different sections
of the car, and the track foreman, standing on a ladder, watches these
poured onto a cloth with an eye to detecting evidence of plugging
with an inferior quality of grain; these seven samples having been
mixed thoroughly, a canvas bag is filled from the result and the
two-and-one-half pounds which it will hold become the official sample.
The rest of the mixture is dumped back and the car resealed.
The foreman has filled out a sample ticket with car number, date,
load line, initials of sampler and any other notations necessarysuch
as leakages, etc. His own name is stamped on the back of the ticket,
which goes into the sample sack. Copies of the way bills with full
information as to all cars, shipping points, consignees or advisees and
destinations are obtained from the railway yard office and these,
together with the samples, are sent twice a day to the Chief Grain
Inspector's office at the Grain Exchange.
Here the samples are inspected and graded in a room with special
lighting facilities. The grading is done only in broad daylight. The
quality of the grain, its condition and the admixtures are determined
respectively by judgment of hand and eye, by elaborate mechanical
moisture tests and by a sieving and weighing process. The whole sample
is examined closely for color, plumpness, weight, etc., in order to fix
its grade as No. 1 Hard, No. 1 Northern, 2 Northern, 3 Northern; 1 Hard
and 1 Northern must weigh at least sixty pounds, 2 Northern fifty-eight
pounds, and so on. Grades below these are set by the Grain Standards
Board. Damp or wet grain is marked No Grade, which means that it is
considered unfit for storing and therefore has a lower market value.
Grain which is heated or bin-burnt is condemned. If it is unsound,
musty, dirty, smutty, sprouted or badly mixed with other grain, etc.,
it is rejected. Grain which, because of weather or other conditions,
cannot be included in the grades provided by statute is given a
It will be seen at once that here is work requiring great nicety of
judgment and that long experience is necessary to enable the grader to
reach his decisions quickly and accurately. When the grading is
completed the sample is placed in a small tin box and filed
systematically; it is supposed to remain thus stored until there is no
longer the possibility of a demand for re-inspection and finally the
samples are sacked and sold to the miller with the highest bid, the
money being paid to the Dominion Government.
Grade certificates, bearing the Chief Grain Inspector's signature,
are issued for each shipment and sent at once to the elevator company,
miller or commission agent to whom the car is consigned. These grade
certificates, together with the weight certificate and the bill of
lading, make the grain negotiable on the market; the dealer does not
see the actual grain, merely handling these papers.
If dissatisfaction with grade or dockage arises, the owner of the
grain or his agent can obtain re-inspection at the office of the Chief
Grain Inspector free of charge, and, if still dissatisfied, appeal can
be made to the Survey Board. This is a board of twelve men; the
governing rules and regulations are established by the Grain
Commission. Six members are recommended by the Winnipeg Board of Trade
and two each by the Minister of Agriculture in each of the three
prairie provinces. The verdict of the Survey Board is final.
Now, back in 1905 the machinery for moving the crop upon its way was
little understood by the average Western Canadian farmer. The wheels
went around, gave a click and away went his wheat; but in approaching
it all with the idea of understanding everything he was in the position
of the small boy examining the works of a watch to see how it told the
time. He felt that he ought to understand what went on down at
Winnipeg; for of course where there were so many rules and regulations
to be broken there must be funny work. It was the natural suspicion
of the man who lived much to himself in the quiet spaces, who could not
believe that grain dealers could be honest and build palatial
residences in Winnipeg while his own toil in producing the grain was
rewarded with a living only. It looked as if the roost was being robbed
and with his newborn initiative he wanted to find out how it was done
and who was doing it.
The satisfactory manner in which things are conducted in the grain
trade to-day is the result of long experience and gradual improvement
of conditions. It must be remembered that in the earlier days the trade
was not so well organized for efficiency and in 1905 when E. A.
Partridge began to probe for plugging he had a big job on his hands,
especially in view of the fact that he was treated for the most part as
a meddler who was not entitled to reliable information.
There are two ways of reaching a conclusionone by approaching it
logically on facts laid down; the other by jumping to it across a
yawning lack of detail. At the end of his month of investigation the
farmer's scout had a regular rag-bag of material out of which to
fashion a patchwork report. A grain man might have condemned it as a
crazy quilt because bits of high color obtruded inharmoniously. But
if here and there an end was short or a bit of information on the bias,
it was because the Farmers' Representative had not been treated with
sufficient frankness. He had to make the best of the materials allowed
him and his natural tendency to bright-colored metaphor may have been
quickened. He hit out straight from the shoulder in all sincerity at
conditions as they appeared to him.
He thought he saw five companies controlling the exporting business,
and also their margin of profit, so that they were able to keep out
smaller dealers who might have the temerity and the necessary capital
to try exporting on their own account. He saw the smaller dealers in
turn stem-winding their prices by those of the exporters, controlling
the prices paid for street and track wheat throughout the country;
thereby, he reasoned, it became possible to set special prices at any
given point by the simple expedient of wiring the necessary
instructions to the operator at that point to pinch independent
competition. He saw elevator companies cutting their charges at certain
points to kill off competition from farmers' elevators which sold to
independent dealers. All this he was sure he saw.
The sampling appeared to be carried on in a systematic and
satisfactory manner. The grading, too, appeared to be uniform enough as
regarded the standard grades; but in the item of color there seemed
just cause for complaint. Lack of color, a trifling number of
imperfectly formed kernels or the suspicion of a wrinkle on the bran
apparently doomed a sample to low grade no matter how heavy and flinty
the wheat might be.
This seemed scarcely fair to Partridge, who bore in mind that the
sunny seasons of past years had been succeeded by cloudier ones, the
dry autumns by wet ones and that with stacking discontinued and much of
the farmers' wheat left long in stock, bleaching was bound to follow.
So that if the Chief Grain Inspector were a crank on color, he should
remember that beauty was only skin deep.
The fracture and microscopic and weighing tests seemed to be the
only reasonable tests which could be applied quickly; the milling test
was the only one which was absolutely correct. Any rapid eye test which
pretended to determine whether there was sixty-one per cent. or
fifty-nine per cent. of Red Fife wheat in a given sample struck the
Farmers' Representative as farcical; yet this was sufficient to make
the difference of a grade and sometimes a difference of seven cents per
bushel in the price obtained.
The whim of the Inspector likewise decided how many lean berries in
a plump sample would disqualify it for plump classification and how
many mature or defective berries among sound wheat, would disqualify it
from being classed as sound. With a single concocted sample as a
basis of judgment Partridge considered that the grading of the lower
grades often was very unjust to the producer, especially to the owners
of plump frosted wheat; the process of concocting the basic sample was
very interesting; but the result was a nightmare.
W. H. Gaddes, who had preceded him to Winnipeg, agreed with him in
this. Also, Mr. Gaddes denounced the Survey Board at that time as
unsatisfactory in its composition, open to suspicion in its findings
and in practiceso far as outsiders' wheat was concernedsimply a
machine to register confirmation of the Inspector's previous grading.
It was Partridge's belief that many a fraud perpetrated in a line
elevator was added to the iniquities of the Inspector, in whose
personal integrity he had every confidence. For this reason he was
inclined to be lenient with the hard-working and conscientious
officials of the Government. Nevertheless, it appeared wise that a
farmers' special agent be maintained permanently at Winnipeg to
safeguard the interests of the farmers, especially if certain powers
were allotted to him under the Inspection Act.
In making his report to the Territorial Grain Growers' Association
Partridge went into the whole situation as he saw it and particularly
was he outspoken in regard to that House with the Closed Shutters, as
he called the Winnipeg Grain and Produce Exchange. In fact, his gas
attack upon the Exchange was ablaze with the fires of hostility.
And for the use of his reckless language Partridge was to be called
to account in due course.
 Although only about ten per cent. of the arable area in Western
Canada is under cultivation there are already 3,500 country elevators.
Terminal elevators at the head of the lakes with a storage capacity of
forty-four million bushels and interior Government terminals with ten
and one-half million bushels capacity are overflowing already. Wheat
exports of Canada have increased from 2,284,702 bushels in 1867 to
157,745,469 bushels in 1916. Per capita Canada has more railway mileage
than any country in the world.
 In early days nearly all grain was routed eastward via Winnipeg;
but with the development of the grain trade and the opening of the
Panama Canal some Western Canadian grain travels west and south.
Facilities for inspection and grading have been established at Calgary,
Superior, Duluth, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, Medicine Hat and Vancouver.
 In 1905 three members of the Survey Board were recommended by
the Winnipeg Board of Trade and three each by the respective
Departments of Agriculture in the three Prairie Provinces.
CHAPTER VI. ON A CARD IN THE WINDOW
OF WILSON'S OLD STORE
. . . Is it vain to hope
The sons of such a land will climb and grope
Along the undiscovered ways of life,
And neither seek nor be found shunning strife,
But ever, beckoned by a high ideal,
Press onward, upward, till they make it real;
With feet sure planted on their native sod,
And will and aspirations linked with God?
Robert J. C. Stead.
Ideas grow. The particular idea which now began to occupy the
thoughts of E. A. Partridge to the exclusion of everything else was a
big idea to begin with; but it kept on growing so rapidly that it soon
became an obsession.
Why couldn't the farmers themselves form a company to undertake the
marketing of their own wheat? That was the idea. If a thousand farmers
got together in control of ten million bushels of wheat and sold
through a single accredited agency, they would be in the same position
exactly as a single person who owned ten million bushels. If the owner
of ten thousand bushels was able to make a better bargain than the
owner of one thousand, what about the owner of ten million bushels?
Would the owner of ten million bushels peddle his wheat by the
wagonload at the local shipping point or by the carload in Winnipeg?
mused Partridge. Would he pay one hundred thousand dollars to a
commission man to sell his wheat, with perhaps a nice rake-off to an
exporter, who turns it over at a profit by selling it to a British
dealer, who blends it and makes a good living by selling the blend to a
His pencil travelled swiftly on the back of an envelope.
Would he pay one hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars to the
line elevator and stand a dockage of one hundred thousand bushels in
addition? Would he pay the terminal elevator seventy-five thousand
dollars' worth of screenings? Would he pay two and one-half million
dollars for transportation when 'by a little method known to large
exporters' he could save one and a quarter million dollars out of this
You just bet he wouldn't! concluded this man Partridge. And
supposing we had ten thousand farmers in one company and each farmer
produced, on an average, five thousand bushels of wheatthat would put
the company in control of the sale of fifty million bushels, not
ten! Why, there's the answer to the whole blame thingso simple we've
been stepping right over it!
Pools, mergers, combines, trusts and monopolies were but various
forms of the same co-operative principle acting within narrow limits to
the benefit of the co-operatives and the prejudices of the outsiders.
The remedy lay not in legislative penalties against co-operation but in
the practice of co-operation on a large scale by the people. That would
provide the most powerful weapon of defence against financial
buccaneering. Universally employed, it would bring about an industrial
But this was dreaming, of course. None knew better than E. A.
Partridge that if even a small part of it was to come true, there lay
immediately ahead a great educational campaign. Ignorance and suspicion
would require to be routed. It would be difficult to convince some
farmers that his motives were unselfish. Others would be opposed to the
idea of a farmers' trading company in the belief that it would wreck
the Association. We must keep our organization non-partizan,
non-political and non-trading had been the slogan from the first.
Nothing daunted by the difficulties which loomed in the foreground,
Partridge obtained permission from his Territorial associates to tell
the central Manitoba Grain Growers' Association the result of his
investigations at Winnipeg. The Manitoba convention was about to be
held at Brandon and on his way back home he remained over to address
the delegates. They listened carefully to what he had to say; but when
he began to urge the necessity of the farmers themselves going into
trading in grain his fire and enthusiasm caused more excitement where
he was standing on the platform than in the audience. The best he could
do by his earnestness was to create sufficient interest for a
committee to be appointed with instructions to investigate the
possibilities of the scheme and report at the next annual convention of
the Manitoba Grain Growers' Association.
On arrival at Sintaluta, however, he succeeded in stirring up his
neighbors to the proper pitch of enthusiasm. They knew him at
Sintaluta, listened to him seriously, and the leaders of the little
community shook hands on the idea of organizing, in the form of a joint
stock company, a scheme for the co-operative marketing of grain by
When he made his report of the Winnipeg investigations at the annual
convention of the Territorial Grain Growers' Association at Moose Jaw
he found that while the principle which he advocated was favorably
receivedjust as it had been in Manitobamany farmers drew back
distrustfully from the idea of going into business. Their experience
with business in the past had not been of a nature to instill
confidence in such a venture and if the enterprise failed, they feared
it would discredit the Association. There was a strong prejudice
against any Association director or officer being closely identified
with such a propaganda.
Back to Sintaluta went E. A. Partridge. A public meeting was called
to discuss the situation. It was to be held in the Town Hall on January
27th (1906) and in preparation for it a preliminary meeting was held in
the sitting-room of the hotel and a committee appointed to prepare a
synopsis of what was to be done.
This synopsis was presented to the thirty farmers who gathered in
the Town Hall and a lengthy resolution was passed unanimously, setting
forth the aims and objects of the prospective trading company.
Everybody present undertook to subscribe for shares.
Justification for what they were attempting was found in the
widespread discontent existing among the grain growers of the West with
conditions governing the marketing of their grain. It was pointed out
also that the isolation of farmers from each other, their distance from
the secondary and ultimate markets and their ignorance of the details
of the grain businessthat these things rendered them individually
liable to suffer grave injustices, even without their knowledge and
certainly without hope of remedy by individual efforts. The scientific
selling of wheat was just as important to the farmer as the scientific
growing of it and this scientific knowledge could be obtained only by
actually engaging in the business at some important commercial centre
where the methods of successful operators could be studied.
There was every reason to believe that a scheme which limited its
activities at first to acquiring a seat on the Grain Exchange and doing
a straight commission business, or at most a commission and
track-buying businessthat such a co-operative scheme stood an
excellent chance of success. Without much financial risk, it should
prove immediately profitable, afford protection from crooked practices
and at the same time the shareholders could gain an insight into the
whole grain business and thereby equip themselves for greater
enterprises; it would not be long before they would be in a position to
deal intelligently with their problems and pertaining legislation.
Besides all this there was the possible piling up of a surplus revenue,
over and above dividends, which could be turned to good account in
uncovering conditions in Eastern Canadian and European markets and
learning the best ways to meet those conditions.
For these reasons the grain growers of Sintaluta, Saskatchewan, went
on record at this meeting in the little Town Hall as heartily
recommending the formation of a joint stock company which was to be
composed wholly of farmers and to be known as The Grain Growers' Grain
Company, Limited, with shares at twenty-five dollars each. It was
stipulated that no one person could hold more than four shares, that
even these were not to be transferable except by vote at annual
meeting, and that no man could have more than one vote at annual
meetings. With this single far-sighted stroke the possibility of
control passing into the hands of any clique was removed.
In furtherance of the plans set forth a committee was named to
take charge of the preliminary organization work until relieved by the
election of a provisional directorate at an organization meeting which
it was hoped to hold at Brandon the following March. This committee was
authorized to conduct a campaign for subscriptions in the meantime,
printed receipts to be issued for the same.
Such was the scheme to which the farmers of Sintaluta subscribed to
a man. Two hundred shares at Sintaluta to begin with and Sintaluta only
one point in the West! The Committee went to work with enthusiasm. Ten
dollars was spent in printing a prospectus. E. A. Partridge got a card
and blocked out on it: GRAIN GROWERS' GRAIN COMPANY. This he hung in
the window of Wilson's old store at Sintaluta, where a dollar was paid
for the use of a desk. Here in the evenings would assemble William
Hall, Al Quigley, William Bonner and E. A. Partridge to send out
circulars and keep the pot boiling till enough funds were on hand to
let Quigley out canvassing on board wages.
On February 28th the Manitoba Grain Growers' Association held their
1906 convention and as chairman of the committee appointed the year
before to report upon the matter, E. A. Partridge again urged the
advisability of establishing a company to handle the farmers' grain. By
this time the plan had taken more definite shape and he pressed the
claims of the proposed commission company with such logic and eloquence
that besides having the committee's report adopted by the Association
unanimously, he secured the interest of quite a few delegates. There
was, nevertheless, much adverse criticism, not a little apathy and some
Let's hold a meeting of our own, suggested someone. The word was
passed for all who were interested to meet in the council chamber of
the Brandon Town Hall. Between twenty and thirty farmers attended this
meeting and the plans of the Sintaluta men for a co-operative trading
company were approved. It was decided to meet at the Leland Hotel in
Winnipeg some time in March or April to formulate plans for an active
For two days those in attendance at this second meeting discussed
the details of the undertaking. A great many different views were
expressed, not all of them favorable. There were those who objected to
the chosen name of the prospective company as being a handicap upon the
Association movement in case the venture failed. The Sintaluta
provisional directorate was allowed to stand and the canvassing
committee was enlarged to include a number of Manitoba men who were to
take the field for a stock canvass.
That stock-selling campaign will dodder through to the Final Memory
of those who took part in it. The man who stood on the street-corner
and offered ten-dollar gold-pieces for a dollar had no harder task.
Blood from stones! Milk from dry cows! Although ten per cent. on each
share was all the cash that was asked apparently some farmers were so
hard up that if yarn were selling at five cents per mile, they couldn't
buy enough of it to make a pair of mitts for a doodlebug!
If you take four shares, admitted Al Quigley at his meetings, I
can't guarantee that you're not losing four times $2.50, which is ten
dollars. But you lose that much when you draw a load of wheat up to the
elevator anyway, he argued. You might just as well let another ten go
to see what's become of the first ten!
Huh! grunted a skeptical farmer after one of E. A. Partridge's
meetings. This here thing's just a scheme for Partridge to feather his
nest! You bet he didn't get any o' my money, he bragged. Did he get
He did, Ben, an' I'll tell you why. This thing'll probably go bust;
but I put a hundred into it. Supposin' I put a hundred in a horse an'
he dies on me. Same thing, ain't it? I got to have horses to do farmin'
an' I just go an' buy another one. I figure it's worth takin' a
hundred-dollar chance on this thing to try her out.
Up in the northern part of Manitoba was one man who was meeting with
pretty fair success. His name was Kennedy and his friends who knew him
best called him Honest John. His plan was simpleto start talking,
talk for awhile, then keep right on talking.
For God's sake, Kennedy, if $2.50 will stop you talking, here it
is! We're sleepy!
Then he would stop talking.
One by one the original canvassers dropped out of the field till
almost the only one left besides E. A. Partridge was this hard-talking
enthusiast up in the Swan River country who wound himself up for the
night and tired them outbut got the money!
 See AppendixPar. 4.
 See AppendixPar. 5.
 See AppendixPar. 6.
CHAPTER VII. A FIGHT FOR LIFE!
My dear little Demus! you'll find it is true,
He behaves like a wretch and a villain to you . . .
It was characteristic of John Kennedy to keep everlastingly at it.
He was used to hard things to do. In this life some men seem to get
rather more than their share of tacks in the boots and crumbs in bed!
But every time Fate knocked him down he just picked himself up again.
Always he got up and went at it once morepatiently, conscientiously,
smiling. Even Fate cannot beat a man like that and John Kennedy was a
hard fighter in a quiet way who did not know how to quit.
With four younger brothers and an equal number of younger sisters to
crowd up to the home table down there on the farm near Beaverton,
Ontario County, Ontario, it was advisable for the eldest son to work
out as a farm boy. He was thirteen years old when he first hired out to
a farmer for the summer and he was to receive twenty-four dollars for
the season. But the farmer had a hard time that year and at the end of
John, said the poor fellow with ill-concealed embarrassment,
II'm afraid I can't pay you that money. But you know that big flock
of sheep down in the back pasture? Well, tell you what we'll do. Over
at Beaverton I've got an uncle who's a tailor. I can give you a suit of
full cloth of homespun and call it square, and though the boy wanted
the money for fifty things he had to take the homespun suit.
Three or four hobble-de-hoy years of it on the farms of the
neighborhood and young Kennedy literally took to the woods and drove
the rivers in Muskoka and Michigan as a lumberjack till he was a chunk
of whalebone in a red flannel shirt and corked boots and could pull the
whiskers out of a wild-cat! With varying success he fought the battle
of life and learned that many things glitter besides gold and that the
four-leafed clover in this life after all is a square deal between men.
The appeal of E. A. Partridge at the convention of the Manitoba
Grain Growers in 1906 therefore found John Kennedy feeling responsive.
He knew the unjust position in which the farmers were placed; for he
was a farmer himselfup in the Swan River Valleyand he was a
delegate from the Swan River Grain Growers' Association. The idea of
forming a farmers' commission company for handling the farmers' grain
sounded like a very satisfactory solution of a very unsatisfactory
state of affairs and he threw himself whole-heartedly into the campaign
to sell enough stock to obtain a charter.
Up in the newer part of the country, which was his own particular
territory, he found the farmers ready enough to listen; for they had
suffered up there from the evils at which the new movement was aiming.
He found also that the most interested members of his audiences were
men who could least afford to lose any money.
An effort was made to discredit the whole proposition as a political
move of the Conservative Party. Throughout the Swan River district, the
Dauphin district and all the way down to Neepawa the rumor spread ahead
of the meetings; so that the speakers were asked many pertinent and
impertinent questions, J. W. Robson, a Swan River farmer who was at
that time a Conservative Member of the Manitoba Legislature, was giving
his services free as a speaker on behalf of the proposed company; John
Kennedy was known to be a political supporter of J. W. Robson. One and
one make two; two and two sometimes make a fairly large-sized political
rumor. But Mr. Robson was a ready and convincing speaker who was known
to be a farmer first and last and Mr. Kennedy attributes the practical
results obtained as due largely to Mr. Robson's logic and sincerity.
Along in June Kennedy received a telegram from Winnipeg that
startled him. It contained the first intimation that difficulties were
arising at Ottawa to prevent the proposed farmers' company from getting
their charter. Taking the first train, he found on his arrival at
Winnipeg that Francis Graham and W. A. Robinson, the two committeemen
who met him, had not yet notified E. A. Partridge. A wire was
despatched at once to Sintaluta and the Chairman joined them by first
train. For two days the Board wrestled with this unexpected difficulty
which threatened to annihilate the company before it got started.
The application of the Organization Committee for a charter was
refused on the ground that the shares of a company with a capital of
$250,000 could not be less than $100 each. Their solicitor tried in
vain to induce the Department to change its views, all canvassing to
sell stock being discontinued by the Committee in the meantime.
Well, let 'em keep their charter if they want to, said Kennedy
finally. This discussion's not getting us anywhere and if we can't get
a Dominion charter, why we can't get it.
Guess you're right, John. We might as well quit and go on home.
Who said anything about quitting? Kennedy brought down his big
fist on the table with a thump. We'll get a Manitoba charter. That's
what I mean.
The others shook their heads. A Provincial charter would be useless
for what they were proposing to do, they contended. Kennedy disagreed
so emphatically that he refused to stop arguing about it till at last
he and John Spencer were delegated to see the Manitoba authorities. In
the course of a few days the arrangements for a Provincial charter were
complete, and the Committee turned its attention to selling enough
stock to be ready for business by the middle of the following month.
By this time the harvest season was so near at hand that prompt
action was necessary if they were to do any business that fall. Under
the Manitoba charter the company could open for business with a
provisional directorate and as five members of the original committee
were in Winnipeg and available for quick action, it was decided to go
ahead as it would be impossible to hold a representative general
meeting of the shareholders before harvest and it was advisable in the
interests of the subscribers to take advantage of the opportunity to do
business in the meantime.
Provisional organization therefore was undertaken during the week of
the Winnipeg Industrial Exhibition, in a tent on the Fair grounds, and
July 26th was set as the date. When space was sought for the erection
of their sixteen-foot tent, however, they found themselves classed with
the Sunflower Belles and Katzenjammer Castle and it was only after
the payment of fifty dollars that permission was granted for the
erection of the tent. Here to the accompaniment of a raucous medley of
soundsthe beating of tom-toms, the ballyhooing of the sideshows, the
racket of the machinery exhibits and the cries of the peanut and
lemonade vendorsthe farmers' trading company was organized with
provisional officers and directorate in legal shape to start the
wheels in motion as a joint stock company.
But before actual business could begin a manager must be located who
knew all the ins and outs and ups and downs of the grain business; also
a seat upon the Winnipeg Grain Exchange must be purchased before the
farmers could enter the arena as dealers in grain. None of the officers
of the young company which was about to try its wings overlooked the
fact that nothing could be more foolhardy than for farmers like
themselves, direct from the green pastures, to attempt the plunge they
were about to take without proper guidance as to the depth of the water
and the set of the currents. They knew they were embarking in a most
intricate and difficult business and with so much at stake on behalf of
the whole farming population of Western Canada it was necessary to
place the helm in the hands of somebody who could pilot them through
the shoals. At best it promised to be a stormy passage.
About the only man in sight for the position was Thomas Coulter, of
the Independent Grain Company. He had treated E. A. Partridge with more
consideration as the Farmers' Representative than most of the other
grain men and there was a possibility that he might be persuaded to
take the offer seriously. But on approaching him, Mr. Coulter did not
become excited over the prospect of managing a farmers' company in the
grain business; even he was not inclined to take too seriously the
effort of the farmers to do their own trading. How long would the
farmers stand behind the company in the face of the competition that
would be brought to bear? That was the question that bulged right out
in front; for, as everybody knew, farmers never had been able to hang
together very long when it came down to a matter of dollars and cents
in their individual pockets. Finally, however, he agreed that there
might be a fighting chance and accepted the management.
So far so good. But what about the seat on the Grain Exchange? The
price of it was $2,500. One thousand shares of the company's stock had
been disposed of with ten per cent. paid up and from the $2,500 thus
realized the expenses of organization had to be met, the charter paid
for, the legal fee and expenses at Ottawa in connection with the effort
to secure a Dominion charter, office rent, printing bills and what not.
Which leaves us about $1,000 to buy a $2,500 seat and finance our
first business operations, said John Spencer with the look of a
We'll have to issue a twenty per cent. call on subscribed stock,
admitted the President reluctantly. In the meantime I'll have to see
if some of the boys out at Sintaluta will go security for the fifteen
hundred. Thank heaven, these fellows down here think we're a hilarious
joke! The only chance we've got to get through the fence with this
thing is for them to keep right on laughing at us till we get our toes
in the sand!
He wrote to Sintaluta, explaining the situation, and five of E. A.
Partridge's friends at once responded by going to the bank with
their personal notes for the amount needed.
With support like that we're going to win, boys, cried the
President proudly when the bank notified them that the money was
Financial arrangements were established with the Bank of British
North America and when a room had been rented on the top floor of the
old Tribune building and circulars sent broadcast among the farmers,
soliciting grain, the wheels began to turn.
The little office was opened for business on September 5th (1906).
It was so small that even two or three people got in each other's way,
though all they were doing was to watch the mails anxiously for the
first indications as to whether the farmers would stand behind the big
idea that was now put to the test. Then came the bill of lading for the
first carload of grain consigned to the new company, followed quickly
by the second, the third, fourth, fifth, sixthtwo at a time, three,
ten, fifteen per day! Every foot of space in the little office was a
busy spot and the lone typewriter clickety-clacked on the second-hand
table with cheerful disregard of lunch hours. By the end of the month
the weekly receipts had risen to one hundred cars of grain.
It became necessary to move to a larger office and accommodation was
obtained in the Henderson Block. At the present rate, a whole floor
would be needed soon.
Over at the Grain Exchange some men were talking seriously. They
were talking about E. A. Partridge and they were not laughing. The
Secretary of the Exchange was instructed to write a letter.
Partridge hit the desk so hard that the paper-knife with which he
had sliced open that letter hopped to the floor.
They're after us already! he exploded.
It looked that way. The Company's seat on the Grain Exchange was
held in the name of the President and the letter summoned him to appear
before the Council of the Exchange to answer to a charge of having
sinned against the honor and diginity of that institution and of
violating its rules. A short time before the young company had issued a
circular setting forth their intention of dividing co-operatively
whatever profits were earned; in other words, the man sending the
larger amount of grain would receive the larger profits. This, the
Exchange claimed, was a violation of the strict rules of the Grain
Exchange and would have to be abandoned.
You are virtually splitting the commission with the shipper,
claimed the Exchange, and we can't allow that for a minute.
It's up to you to prove I'm guilty, not up to me to come here and
commit myself, argued Partridge. If you can find any profits that
have been distributed co-operatively by the Grain Growers' Grain
Company, go ahead. Nor have I sinned against your 'diginity'! he
added, sarcastically taking advantage of the stenographer's error in
spelling. For that matter, you've been digging into me ever since I
came on here!
You can't do any more business with our members till you change
your ways, declared the Exchange and forthwith, on October 25th,
notice was posted to all Exchange members that any of them found
dealing with the farmers' company would be penalized themselves.
Expelled from trading privileges! Practically boycotted! It was a
straight punch on the nose that threatened to put the young
organization out of business for the final count. Membership in the
Exchange was absolutely imperative if the farmers were to be in a
position to sell grain to exporters; they were not strong enough yet to
export direct to Old Country markets and all the exporters through whom
they were compelled to deal were members of the Exchange.
The whole thing's just a pretext! cried Partridge vehemently. We
haven't got any by-law regarding distribution of profits
co-operatively; the only thing they've got to go on is that circular.
They're beginning to get scared of us and they see a chance to put us
out of business.
If this were the object, it looked as if it might be achieved in
short order. The grain was pouring in steadily by the carload and with
no buyer daring to deal with them in face of the mandate from the
Exchange, of which they were all members, the new company was in a
quandary to dispose of the incoming grain on a falling market. The only
thing they could do was to wait until they had sufficient of any grade
to make a shipment of from 8,000 to 10,000 bushels of that grade and
try to place it somewhere in the East. The Manager was sent east
hurriedly to see what connections he could establish while his office
assistant mailed letter after letter to eastern points in an endeavor
to work several contracts.
The farmers who shipped their grain to the new company were
expecting to receive seventy-five per cent. of an advance from the bank
on their bills of lading and a prompt remittance of the balance when
the Inspection Certificate and Outturn were in the hands of the
Company. With the grain piling up on their company day by day, it was
not long before the overdraft at the bank began to assume alarming
Luckily the Assistant Manager succeeded in making several sales in
the East, which eased away from the crisis which was shaping. It was
quite patent that it would have been suicide for the young trading
organization to notify the farmers to stop sending in business. They
dare not do that.
In desperation the President and Vice-President went to the Manitoba
Government and laid their case in full before the cabinet. Premier R.
P. Roblin (now Sir Rodmond Roblin) was very much surprised to learn the
The Government certainly cannot countenance any such action on the
part of the grain dealers, he declared emphatically. We cannot allow
them to boycott a company composed of farmers who have as much right to
sell grain as any other body of men.
Accordingly the Government set a time limit within which the
Exchange had the option of removing the ban against the farmers'
company or of losing their Provincial charter. In the meantime,
however, this did not obtain restoration of trading privileges, without
which the farmers' company could not do business with Exchange members
except by paying them the full commission of one cent per bushel.
The situation, therefore, was approaching a crisis rapidly. The
company was fortunate in having the friendship of their local bank
manager; but even he could not go on forever making advances on
consigned grain and there was some suspicion that letters were reaching
the head office of the bank in Montreal, advising that the quicker this
particular account was closed out the better off the bank would be.
Then one morning the local manager called on the Executive and his
face was grave.
This is not the first time I've heard from the Head Office about
this account, as you know, he began at once, but I'm afraid it's the
last call, gentlemen. He handed a letter to the President. As you
see, I am instructed to close out your account at once unless further
security is forthcoming. I'm sorry; for I believe you've merely run
into hard luck in getting squared away. ButI'm not the bank, you
What do you want us to do? What can we do? asked Partridge
anxiously. This thing will straighten out, Mr. Machaffie. We're
getting the business. You know that. We're going to get back our
trading privileges and everything will be alright.
The banker shook his head slowly.
I'm sorry, gentlemen. But do you know what your overdraft amounts
Three hundred and fifty-six thousand dollars, murmured the
What are we to do?
Before coming here I've been to see the Scottish Co-Operative
Wholesale Society about taking some of your wheat. Fisher is ready to
help you out if he finds he's not overstepping the rules of the
Exchange. I may be able to carry you along for a short time if you
three gentlemen, the Executive of your company, will give the bank your
personal bond without limit as to the amount. I have even gone so far
as to draw up the document for signature, if it meets with your
What about that, Kennedy? Spencer?
Guess we've got to do it, nodded Kennedy.
Looks like it, agreed Spencer.
Thendown she goes! decided Partridge, dipping his pen in the
ink. The others signed after him.
That means we three go down with the ship, he remarked quietly
after the door had closed upon the bank manager. I appreciate you two
fellows signing that thing. He got up and shook hands with each of
them in turn. If bad gets worse and we go to smash
It can't get worse and we're not going to smash, reassured the
But that remained to be seen. Although placing grain in the East was
robbing them of profits, it was the best that could be done to tide
things over. The three active officials were on the anxious seat from
morning till night. It had got down now to a question of meeting each
day's events as they came and frequently the lights blazed in the
little office till two and three in the morning while the provisional
officers raked the situation from every angle in an endeavor to
forecast the next day's difficulties and to prepare for them.
For three months the overdraft at the bank had averaged $275,000,
due almost entirely to the conditions resulting from the action of the
Exchange. It was useless to worry over the amount of interest which
this accommodation was costing and the profits which might have been
rolled up had things been different; the real worry was to keep going
at any cost. For, as the bank manager had intimated, the whole thing
was just hard luck rather than any unsoundness in the business. It was
a fine paradox that the more pronounced the success of the idea itself
became, the greater grew the danger of complete failure because of the
predicament! Death by wheat! An ironical fate indeed for a grain
Upon investigation, the farmers' company discovered that their
original idea of distributing their profits co-operativelyas embodied
in the circular to which the Exchange had objectedwas contrary to the
provisions of the Manitoba Joint Stock Companies' Act under which they
held their charter. Therefore the co-operative idea in connection with
profits was formally dropped by the Grain Growers' Grain Company. This
had been done at a directors' meeting on December 22nd (1906), when a
resolution had been passed, cancelling the proposal contained in the
objectionable circular. But although the Exchange had been notified
immediately and repeated applications for reinstatement had been made,
the farmers' company was still struggling along in the throes of their
dilemmaproof positive, concluded the farmers, that the Grain Exchange
had used the co-operative suggestion as a mere pretext to oust the
Company from the field altogether.
In piled the wheat, car after car of it! A considerable portion of
it had been bought on track and farmers who had consigned their grain
were anxious, naturally, to have it disposed of without delay. With
prices going down and navigation on the point of closing, the best
hopes of the management became centred in getting a big shipment away
to Buffalo by boat. That would enable them to escape a big item in
storage charges and to place the grain in line for export at rates
considerably below the all-rail figures.
With those bills of lading in the bank, we've no control of them
and the bank can do just about as it likes, reviewed the President one
night. If they should come down on us to sell our wheat inside of
forty-eight hourswe're goners, boys! All that those fellows over at
the Exchange have got to do is to shove down the market thirty points
and our name is mud! The loss to the farmers who've shipped us
their grain will kill this movement and every one like it in the West
for all time to come. This company will be as dead as a doornail and so
will we financially as its bonded backers.
Kennedy was running a finger tentatively down the window-pane. It
left a streak in the forming frost.
What I want to know is, how long ought it to take to load up this
whole boatload we're trying to move?
Oh, about seventeen hours or so.
And how long have they been at it already? Five days, ain't it? And
she's not away yet! What d'you suppose that means? he snapped. He
began to throw things into a grip. He made for the door.
Where'n the mischief are you going, John?
Fort Williamcan just make the train if I hustle. The J. P.
Walsh gets out of that harbor with that wheat of ours, by
Hickory!if she has to be chopped out with an axe!
Two days later a telegram reached the little office:
S.S. J. P. Walsh cleared to-day for Buffalo. Three hundred
and ten thousand bushels. Last boat out. KENNEDY.
 See AppendixPar. 7.
 See AppendixPar. 8.
 This resolution was confirmed at a meeting of the shareholders,
February 5th, 1907.
CHAPTER VIII. A KNOCK ON THE DOOR
Every man is worth just as much as the things are worth about which
he is concerned.Marcus Aurelius.
That big shipment to Buffalo, along with several others which were
placed in the East with the market recovering, relieved the situation
greatly. Also, the Scottish Co-Operative Wholesale Society's Winnipeg
office decided to stand by the farmers' co-operative marketing venture
and risked disapproval to buy some of the young company's wheat; not
only that, but the farmers' company was allowed the regular commission
of one cent per bushel on the purchase and the cheque paid in to the
bank amounted to $58,298. This friendly co-operation the farmers were
not quick to forget and they still speak of it with gratitude.
It began to look as if the struggling farmers' agency might worry
through the winter after all. The strain of the past few months had
told upon the men at the head of the young organization and especially
upon the provisional President, who felt keenly the responsibilities of
his office. Of a sensitive, high-strung temperament, E. A. Partridge
suffered reaction to such a degree that at times he became almost
He began to talk of resigning. He felt that he had done quite a lot
in getting things under way and that the hard fight which the farmers
would have to wage before the trading company was established
permanently would be carried on more successfully by a younger man. So
frequently had his motives been questioned by suspicious farmers at
organization meetings that he thought it would be better for the
company if he occupied a less prominent place in the conduct of its
affairs. The idea seemed to be prevalent that the organizers were
enthusiastic for direct financial reasons. Those fellows are talking
for what they are going to get out of it, was an open accusation at
timesa misconception so unjust that on several occasions Partridge
had refuted it by pledging to resign from the presidency as soon as the
company was on its feet.
You men keep saying how much I've got out of this, he reproved in
disheartened tones. Gentlemen, I'll admit that I've got a little
silver out of this. But it isn't in my pocket; it's in my hair!
Partridge had no respect for a quitter, however. He did not
propose to take it easy until the farmers' agency did get into proper
running order. Although his associates tried to dissuade him altogether
from the course he had planned, the best he would promise was to remain
at his post until the first annual meeting.
Immediately preceding the annual convention of the Manitoba Grain
Growers' Association at Brandon in February a general meeting of Grain
Growers' Grain Company shareholders was held with about two hundred
represented. Until now the company had been operating under a
provisional directorate only and it was the purpose of the meeting to
complete organization. Since opening for business the shareholders had
practically doubled in number and over 1,500,000 bushels of farmers'
grain had been handled by their own agency, its ability to dispose of
wheat at good figures being demonstrated in spite of deprivation of
trading privileges on the Exchange. Putting a conservative estimate
upon the holdings of the farmers' venture into co-operative marketing,
its paid-up capital remained intact, its organization expenses
paidincluding the membership on the Grain Exchangeand there still
was left a respectable margin of profit. To this showing the
shareholders responded by electing the provisional directorate as
directors for the balance of the year, adding two to their number,
while the same officers were left in charge.
In connection with the directorate it was pointed out that it might
be better to have the trading company's directorate independent of the
Association's directorate. The suggestion came from a tall young man
who had a habit of thinking before he spoke and it was but one of many
practical ideas which he had thrown out at the meeting.
That young chap, Crerar, of Russellmakings of an able man there,
Ed, commented the re-elected Vice-president later. Know anything
I know his father better than I do him, nodded the President
thoughtfully. I met his father in the old Patron movement years ago.
I've got a great respect for his attitude of mind towards moral and
economic questions. I like that young man's views, Kennedy; he seems to
have a grasp of what this movement could accomplishof the aims that
might be served beyond the commercial side of it. In short, he seems to
be somewhat of a student of economics and he has the educationused to
be a school-teacher, I believe.
Remember when I went up to Russell, during their Fair in October,
to tell them what the Exchange was trying to do to us? Well, he was at
the meeting and came over to my room at the hotel afterward, remarked
Kennedy. That's how interested he was. We had quite a talk over the
whole situation. Told me he had an arrangement to buy grain for Graves
&Reilly, besides running the Farmers' Elevator at Russell, and he
offered to ship us all the grain that wasn't consigned to his firm.
We've got quite a few carloads from him during the season.
If there were only a few more elevator operators like him! sighed
Partridge. When I was up there last July, selling stock, only eight
men turned out, he recalled. Crerar was one of them. I sold four
shares. Crerar bought one. Say, he'd be a good man to have on the next
directorate. How would it be if I wrote him a letter about it?
But Alex. Crerar laid that letter aside and promptly forgot it; he
did not take it seriously enough to answer it. If there was anything he
could do to help along a thing in which he believed as thoroughly as he
believed in the grain growers' movement and the farmers' agency he was
more than willing to do it; but executive offices, he felt, were for
older and more experienced men than he.
As manager of an elevator in his home town, as buyer for a grain
firm and as a farmer himself he had had opportunities for studying the
situation from many angles. From the first he had followed the
organization of the farmers with much interest and sympathy. He could
not forget his own early experiences in marketing grain when the
elevators offered him fifty-nine cents per bushel, nineteen cents under
the price at the terminal at the time. The freight rate on his No. 1
Northern wheat he knew to be only nine cents per bushel and when he was
docked a bushel and a half to a load of fifty bushels on top of it all
he had been aroused to protest.
A protest from young Crerar was no mild and bashful affair, either.
It was big-fisted with vigor. But when, with characteristic spirit, he
had pointed out the injustice of the price offered and the dockage
takenthe elevator man, quite calmly, had told him to go to the devil!
There's no use going to the other elevators, for you're all alike,
said young Crerar hotly.
Then take your damned grain home again! grinned the elevator
So the young farmer was compelled to sell his first wheat for what
he could get. He was prepared to pay three cents per bushel on the
spread, that being a reasonable charge; but although plenty of cars
were available at the time, the spread cost him ten cents, a direct
loss of seven cents per bushel. Besides this he was forced to see
between twenty-five and thirty bushels out of every thousand
appropriated for dockage, no matter how clean the wheat might be. That
was in 1902.
It was hard to forget that kind of treatment. And when, later on,
young Crerar accepted an offer of $75 per month to manage a Farmers'
Elevator at Russell he bore his own experience in mind and extended
every possible consideration to the farmers who came to him. The
elevator company, as a company, did not buy grain; but as
representative of Graves &Reilly, a Winnipeg firm, he bought odd lots
and for this service received an extra fifty dollars per month.
Financially, it was better than teaching school. He had made ten
dollars the first summer he taught school and to earn it he had walked
three miles and a half each morning after milking the cows at home,
arriving at the school soaking wet with dew from wading in the long
prairie grass. And even at that, the trustees had wanted a cheaper
teacher! A woman, they thought, might do it cheaper.
The young schoolmaster objected so earnestly, however, that the
argument was dropped. He needed this money to assist in a plan for
attending the Collegiate at Portage la Prairie. He taught the school so
well that after studying Latin at Manitoba College in 1899, the
trustees were glad to get him back the following year at a salary of
$35 per month.
But milking cows at home night and morning and teaching school in
between was not an exciting life at best for a young fellow ambitious
to go farming. So at last he acquired a quarter-section of Hudson Bay
Company land near Russell and took to baching it in a little frame
In the fall some lumber was required for buildings and it so
happened that along came an old chap with a proposition to put in a
portable sawmill on a timber limit up in the Riding Mountains nearby.
The old man meant business alright; he had the engine within ten miles
of its destination before he was overtaken and the whole machine seized
for debt. It looked as if the thousands of logs which the residents of
the district had taken out for the expected mill had been piled up to
no purpose. Crerar, however, succeeded in making a deal for the engine
and, with a couple of partners, began sawing up logs. The little
sawmill proved so useful that he ran it for four winters. When finally
it was burned down no attempt was made to rebuild. Its owner was
entering wider fields of activity.
After meeting Partridge and Kennedy his interest in the affairs of
the farmers' little trading concern was quickened. He was much
impressed with the fact that here were men so devoted to an ideaso
profound in their belief that it was the right ideathat its
advancement was their first and only thought at all times. Alex. Crerar
liked that. If a thing were worth attempting at all, it was worth every
concentration of effort. What these men were trying to accomplish
appealed to him as a big thing, a bigger thing than most of the farmers
yet realized, and it deserved all the help he could give it. The little
agency was in the thick of a fight against tremendous odds and that,
too, had its appeal; for to a natural born fighter the odds meant
merely a bigger fight, a bigger triumph.
Accordingly, the young man lost no opportunity to boost things
along. He was able to consign many carloads of grain in a season. If an
idea occurred to him that he thought might be of service he sat down
and wrote a letter, offering the suggestion on the chance that it might
prove useful to the Executive. He did everything he could to build up
the Company's business in the Russell district and when he returned
home from the shareholders' organization meeting he kept right on
sending in business, offering helpful suggestions and saying a good
word when possible.
As the weeks went by and it became more apparent that they would
wind up their first year's business satisfactorily, E. A. Partridge
decided definitely that he would not accept another term as President.
There were several good men available to succeed him; but he could not
get it out of his head that the one man for the tasks ahead was the
young fellow up at Russell. When he went there in June to speak at a
Grain Growers' picnic he drew Crerar aside for an hour's chat, found
out why he had not answered the letter suggesting that he play a more
active part, and liked him all the better for his modesty.
Without saying anything of what he had in mind he returned to
Winnipeg and sent the Vice-President to Russell to size up the
situation quietly. When Kennedy got back he agreed with the President's
choice of a successor.
The Company was holding its first annual meeting on July 16th and
care was taken that the unsuspecting Crerar was on hand. The
Vice-president button-holed him, explaining that he was wanted on the
Board of Directors and in spite of his protest the President himself
nominated him and he was elected promptly.
But when at the directors' meeting that night the President told the
Board that he had been looking around for a young man to take charge
and that T. A. Crerar was the manwhen everybody present nodded
approval, the man from Russell was speechless. If they had asked him to
pack his grip and leave at once for Japan to interview the Mikado, he
could not have been more completely surprised.
Why, gentlemen he objected, I don't know anything about managing
this company! I could not undertake it.
What is the next order of business? asked E. A. Partridge.
The shareholders were almost as much surprised as the newcomer
himself when the name of the new president was announced. Many of them
had never heard of T. A. Crerar. Had the young president-elect been
able to see what lay ahead of him
But, fortunately or unfortunately, that is one thing which is denied
to every human being.
 See AppendixPar. 7.
CHAPTER IX. THE GRAIN EXCHANGE AGAIN
How many tables, Janet, are there in the Law?
Indeed, sir, I canna just be certain; but I think there's ane in
the foreroom, ane in the back room an' anither upstairs.
Scotch Wit and Humor (Howe).
The efforts of the elevator faction of the Winnipeg Grain and
Produce Exchange, apparently to choke to death the Grain Growers' Grain
Company, had awakened the farmers of the West to a fuller realization
of the trading company's importance to the whole farmers' movement. The
Grain Growers of the three prairie provinces had been watching things
closely and they did not propose to let matters take their course
unchallenged. A second Royal Commission had been appointed by the
Dominion Government in 1906, under the chairmanship of John Millar,
Indian Head, Saskatchewan, to probe conditions in the grain trade and
the farmers felt that certain evidence which had been taken by this
Commission at Winnipeg justified their claims that they were the
victims of a combine.
In the latter part of November (1906) the President of the Manitoba
Grain Growers' Association, D. W. McCuaig, laid formal charges against
three members of the Winnipeg Grain and Produce Exchangecharges of
conspiring in restraint of tradeand when these gentlemen appeared in
the Police Court it was evident that the Exchange intended to fight the
case every inch of the way. The farmers discovered that the legal
talent of Winnipeg had been cornered; for of the twenty lawyers to whom
their solicitor, R. A. Bonnar, K.C., could turn for assistance in the
prosecution every one appeared to have been retained by the defendants.
The case involved such wide investigation that such assistance was
imperative and finally the Grain Growers secured the services of
ex-Premier F. W. G. Haultain, of Saskatchewan.
The preliminary hearing in the Police Court proved to be most
interesting and at times developed considerable heat among the battling
legal lights. The defendants and their friends were so confident that
commitment for trial would not be forthcoming at all that when the
Magistrate decided that he was justified in so ordering, the grain men
were shocked somewhat rudely out of their complacency.
Following up this preliminary victory, the Manitoba Grain Growers
turned to the Manitoba Government and demanded that the charter under
which the Grain Exchange operated be amended in certain particulars.
The deputation from the Grain Growers met the Committee on Agriculture,
the House being in session, and asked that the powers of the charter be
limited so that business would be conducted on an equitable basis
between buyer and producer. They asked that the Exchange be allowed to
set no limit as to the number of persons who might enjoy its
privileges, the question of the reputability of such persons to be
decided by a majority of the members and that a seat purchased for the
use of any firm or corporation should entitle that firm to the
privileges of the Exchange even though registration of membership was
under the name of an individual; also that the right to membership
should include the right to delegate the trading powers to anyone in
the employ of the firm or corporation.
The Grain Growers also asked that arbitrary interference with the
business methods employed by individual firms or corporations and
inquisitional inquiry into such be prohibited; also that the penalties
and disabilities against those breaking the common rules and the
maximum-price rule be abolished; that the right to define the
eligibility of a person as an employee or fix a limit to salary in any
way be denied; also that the expulsion of no member should be
considered final until assented to by the Minister of Agriculture and
that all by-laws should receive the assent of the Lieutenant-Governor
in Council before becoming legal and binding.
The farmers asked that the Government have full access to the minute
books, papers and accounts of the Grain Exchange and that provision be
made for the public to have free access to a gallery overlooking the
trading room during the sessions of the Exchange so that the
transactions occurring might be observed and the prices disseminated
through the public press. They further wished to see gambling in
futures made a criminal offence.
Roderick McKenzie, Secretary of the Manitoba Association, told how
the existing Grain Exchange had about three hundred members, of whom
one hundred were active and fifty-seven of these active members
represented the elevator interests. He said that the interests of the
fifty-seven were looked after by twelve elevator men in the Exchange
and that these twelve men agreed so well that they allowed one of their
number to send out the price which should be paid for wheat for the
The Committee on Agriculture promised to consider the requests and
later, when they met to do so, members of the Grain Exchange attended
in force to present their side of the case. They claimed that a great
deal of the trouble existing between the producer and the Grain
Exchange was due to misconception of the Exchange's methods of action.
The Exchange was only a factor in the grain business and under their
charter they were allowed to make by-laws and regulations, these being
necessary in such an intricate business as handling grain.
The wiring of prices to country points was done by the North-West
Grain Dealers' Association, which had nothing to do with the Exchange
but was a distinct and separate organization for the purpose of running
elevators at country points as cheaply as possible. The highest
possible prices were quoted and the plan was merely to avoid duplicate
The grain men claimed that it was impossible to handle the wheat of
the country unless futures were allowed while to carry on its business
properly the Exchange must have the power to say who should be members
and otherwise to regulate its business. If the producer was getting
full value for his wheat why should the Grain Exchange be interfered
The Exchange was willing that its membership should be extended.
Their books always would be open to Government inspection in future and
they would also repeal the rule regarding track-buyers' salaries. The
press was already admitted and it would be found that when the new
building which the Exchange was erecting was completed there would be a
gallery for the use of the public during trading hours.
If the Legislature were to amend the charter, declared the
Exchange's spokesman, the Exchange would demand that the charter be
cancelled in toto and a receiver appointed to distribute the
assets. The Exchange was tired of being branded thieves and robbers and
they should be let alone to do their business. If this were not
satisfactory, then they wished to be put out of business altogether.
The Grain Growers protested that it was not their desire to have the
charter cancelled. They were not blind to the usefulness of the
Exchange if it were properly managed and all they asked was that this
organization be compelled to do what was right. The reason the Exchange
had admitted the Grain Growers' Grain Company, the farmers claimed, was
so that they could have it under discipline, being afraid of a
combination of farmers in the interests of the producer. The farmers
had lost confidence in the manipulations of the Exchange and wanted
The question of declaring deals in futures to be a criminal offence
was outside provincial jurisdiction and the farmers withdrew that part
of the request. They wished everything else to stand, however.
At this juncture a recommendation was made that a conference be held
between the Government, the Grain Growers, the Exchange, reeves of
municipalities, bankers, railroads, etc., for discussion of everything
pertaining to the handling of wheat, including amendments to the Grain
Exchange charter. The idea appealed to the Premier and before the
Committee he pledged that the resolutions passed at the proposed
conference would be converted into legislation.
After adopting the Agricultural Committee's report the Government
did not act independently regarding the suggested charter amendments,
as the farmers had hoped they would; instead, the whole thing was
shelved, pending the suggested conference. When this conference was
held in the latter part of February, however, the Government was duly
impressed by the earnestness of the Grain Growers. Many strong speeches
were made, including one powerful arraignment by J. W. Scallion, of
Virden, whose energetic leadership had earned him the title: Father of
all the Grain Growers. The Government promised to amend the Exchange
charter at the next session of the Legislature.
The activity of the Manitoba Grain Growers' Association was putting
a new face upon the struggle of the Grain Growers' Grain Company for
the restoration of their trading privileges on the floor of the
Exchange. It demonstrated that the farmers could act in concert if
occasion arose and that the Grain Growers' Associations were in accord
with the principles for which the farmers' trading company was
fighting. When, therefore, the Manitoba Association took a hand in the
matter by officially urging the Manitoba Government to assist in
restoring the Company to its former position on the Exchange in order
that it could enjoy the rights of the seat for which it had paid, the
Government was forced to take action.
It is doubtful if a Minister of the Crown in Manitoba ever had been
called upon to make a more remarkable official statement than that
which now appeared in print in connection with this matter. In the
absence of Hon. R. P. Roblin it became the duty of the Acting-Premier
to make it. Hon. Robert Rogers, then Minister of Public Works in the
Manitoba Government, was the official head of the Government in the
Premier's absence and in the Winnipeg Telegram of April 4th,
1907, the statement appeared as follows:
The action of the Council of the Winnipeg Grain Exchange in
refusing trading privileges to the Grain Growers' Grain Company is
regarded by the Government as an arbitrary exercise of the powers
conferred upon them (the Exchange) through their charter from the
Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, and unless remedied by the Exchange,
the Government will call the Legislature together during the present
month for the purpose of remedying the conditions by Legislative
On April 15th the farmers' trading company was admitted once more to
the full privileges of their seat on the Exchange.
The case against the three members of the Grain Exchange, who had
been indicted under Section 498 of the Criminal Code, came to trial in
the Assize Court a week later, on April 22nd, before Judge Phippen. It
was now a matter for Crown prosecution and under direction of the
Attorney-General, R. A. Bonnar, K.C., proceeded vigorously. The Grain
Growers claimed that the Exchange had rules and regulations which had
been carried out in restraint of trade and that in combination with the
North-West Grain Dealers' Association there had been a practice of
restricting the price to be paid for grain to certain daily figures,
sent out by the parties conspiring.
Also, they expected to show that there had been a combine in
existence between the elevator companies so that there was no
competition in the buying of grain at certain points while there was an
agreement that only a certain amount of street wheat would be received
at the various elevators, the whole thing amounting to the restriction
of wheat buying within certain limits fixed by the combination of the
buyers who belonged to the combinethis to the consequent barring out
of the small buyer from the trade. The latter, the Grain Growers
argued, was prevented from buying by the rule which called for the
payment of a salary to track buyers and prohibited the hiring of men on
commission; there were points where the quantity of grain offered for
sale was too limited to justify the payment of a fifty-dollar salary to
Another point of complaint was that the Grain Exchange membership
was restricted to three hundred, the members having agreed among
themselves that no more seats be added although all present seats were
sold and many more might be sold to eligible citizens.
Also, claimed the prosecution, there was a practical boycott of
expelled members in that the members of the Exchange were forbidden to
deal with expelled members; it was practically impossible to do
business in grain in Western Canada unless connected with the Grain
Exchange, one firm having experienced this difficulty.
The rule which barred the purchasing of grain on track during the
hours of trading on the Exchange was, they would endeavor to show, an
act in restraint of trade and the three men under indictment, the
prosecution hoped to prove, had been active in the enactment of the
alleged illegal by-laws of the Grain Exchange.
Prior to the enactment of these obnoxious laws of the Exchange the
farmers had been sought by the buyers, whereas since the rules had been
established the farmer must seek the purchaser. While the prices given
out were fixed by the Grain Exchange in what was claimed to be open
competition, the prosecution intended to show that it was a gambling
transaction pure and simple, the price-fixing being nothing more than
the guess of the men who acted for their own gain.
The trial lasted for a month, during which time a great many
witnesses were examinedgrain men and farmersand the whole grain
trade reviewed. The array of legal talent for the defence was very
imposing and the case attracted much attention because, aside from its
interest to the grain trade and the farming population, it promised to
test the particular and somewhat obscure section of the Criminal Code
under which the indictment was laid. At one stage of the proceedings
the tension in court became so high and witnesses so unwilling that
upon reproval by the court regarding his examination, leading counsel
for the Grain Growers picked up his bag and walked out in protest,
willing to risk punishment for the breach of etiquette rather than
remain. After the Grain Growers' executive and counsel had conferred
with the Government, however, the Grain Growers' counsel was prevailed
upon to resume the case.
The finding of the court did not come as much of a surprise; for it
was apparent before the trial ended that the section of the Code was
considered ambiguous by the presiding Judge. The latter held that all
restraints suggested by the evidence were agreed to, whether
justifiably or not, as business regulations and before finding the
defendants guilty these restraints must appear to be undue, according
to his reading of the section. It was necessary to respect the right of
a particular trade or business or of a particular class of traders to
protect their property by regulations and agreements so long as the
public interests were not thereby unduly impaired; to the Judge's
mind there was no question that the public had not been unduly
After reviewing the case the Judge held that the gravamen of the
whole charge hung upon the Commission Rule of the Exchangethat one
cent commission per bushel should be made in handling grain; so that
the price paid would be the price at the terminal (Fort William) less
the freight and one cent per bushel commission, neither more nor less.
Witnesses agreed that this was the lowest profit on which the business
could live. Fort William prices were the highest the world's markets
could justify. Owing to the presence in the statute of the word,
unduly, therefore, the Judge could not find the defendants guilty.
The Grain Growers were much dissatisfied with the decision; for they
believed that they had adduced evidence to support their case and did
not relish losing it on a technicality. Appeal was made, therefore; but
the appeal court upheld the judgment of the assize court.
Apparently, deduced the farmers, this meant that men could conspire
to create monopolies by driving all competitors out of business so long
as they did not do it out of pure maliceso long as they justified it
on the grounds of personal interestso long as the things they did
were not malicious restraints, unconnected with any business relations
of the accused! In other words, if men merely conspired to advance
their own business interests they committed no offence under the then
existing law; to be liable to punishment they must be actuated by
So that all the turmoil and talk, court proceedings and conferences,
deputations and denunciations, evidence and evasionsall the
excitement of the past few months practically left conditions just
where they were. For the amendments to the Grain Exchange charter would
not materialize till the Legislature met again next year.
But there was one spot where the clouds had rifted and the light
shone through. The Grain Growers' Grain Company had won back its place
on the Exchange. More and more the farmers began to pin their faith to
their little fighting trading company at the front. It appeared to be
the concentration point for the fire of enemy guns. In all probability
hostilities would break out anew, but the men in charge were good
menloyal and determined; they could be relied upon to take a
full-sized whack at every difficulty which raised its head.
The first of these to threaten was on the way.
 Now Chief Justice Haultain.
CHAPTER X. PRINTERS' INK
The fewer the voices on the side of truth, the more distinct and
strong must be your own.Channing.
As the farmers saw it, there was no reason in the world why the bank
should do what it did. The Company had closed its first year with net
profits sufficient to declare a seven per cent. cash dividend and the
profits would have been augmented greatly had it not been for the heavy
interest payments which accrued on the unusual overdrafts imposed by
special conditions. In spite of their extremely limited resources and
the handicaps forced upon them, the volume of business transacted had
exceeded $1,700,000 during the first ten months that the farmers had
been in business; their paid-up capital had been approximately eleven
thousand dollars of which over seven thousand had been required for
organization outlay. The number of shareholders had nearly doubled
during the ten months and everything was pointing to rapid advancement.
The Company had been a good customer of the bank, which had received
about $10,000 in interest. The security offered for their line of
credit was unquestioned.
Yet the new directors had scarcely settled into place for the
approaching busy season before, without warning, the bank notified them
that they wished to close out the account.
When men set themselves up in business they expect to have to
compete for their share of trade. The farmers did not expect to find
their path lined with other grain dealers cheering them forward and
waving their hats. They expected competition of the keenest. What they
could not anticipate, however, was the lengths to which the fight might
go or the methods that might be adopted to put their Agency out of
Hitherto the grain grower had been in the background when it came to
marketing and handling grain. He was away out in the country
somewherebusy plowing, busy seeding, busy harvesting, busy
something-or-other. He was a Farm Hand who so tuckered himself out
during daylight that he was glad to pry off his wrinkled boots and lie
down when it got dark in order to yank them on again, when the rooster
crowed at dawn, for the purpose of tuckering himself out all over
again. It was true that without him there would have been no grain to
handle; equally true that without the grain dealers the farmer would
have been in difficulty if he tried to hunt up individual consumers to
buy his wheat. The farmer interfering in the established grain trade
was something new and it was not to be supposed that when the surprise
of it wore off things were not liable to happen.
The farmer was quick to infer that the action of the bank in cutting
off the trading company's credit without apparent cause was another
move of the opposing forces. It was so palpably a vital spot at which
This time, however, the threatening cloud evaporated almost as soon
as it appeared. The manager, W. H. Machaffie, resigned and assumed the
management of another bank. He was a far-sighted financier, Mr.
Machaffie, and almost the first account he sought for the Home Bank was
that of the Grain Growers' Grain Company. The Home Bank was new in the
West and in the East it had been an old loan company without big
capitalistic interests, its funds being derived mostly from small
depositors; but while at that time it was not among the wealthiest
banking institutions of the country, it was quite able to supply full
The opportunity for the farmers' company and the young bank to get
together to mutual advantage was too good to be overlooked. Under the
banking laws of Canada valuable special privileges are granted in view
of the important part which the banks play in the country's
development. Government returns indicate that the greater part of the
business done by banks is carried on upon their deposits. If the
working people and the farmers, as is generally accepted, form the
majority of these depositors of money in banks, then were not many
loans which went to monopolistic interests being used against the very
people who furnished the money? If the farmers could acquire stock in a
bank of their own, would they not be in a position to finance their own
requirements rather than those of corporations which might be obtaining
unreasonable profits from the people at large? Such an investment would
be safe and productive at the same time that it strengthened the
farmers' hands in their effort to do their own trading.
With all this in view the directors of the Grain Growers' Grain
Company made a heavy investment in Home Bank stock and were appointed
sole brokers to sell a large block of the bank's stock to Western
farmers, working men and merchants. On the sale of this they were to
receive a commission which would, they expected, be enough to cover the
expense of placing the stock. As the business expanded the Company
would be assured of an extended line of credit as it was needed.
And the business certainly was expanding. Although the prospects for
the new crop were not as bright as they had been the year before, a
substantial increase in the amount of grain they would handleowing to
the increase in the number of shareholderswas anticipated by the
management. They were not prepared, however, for the heavy volume that
poured in upon them when the crop began to move; it was double that of
their first season and the office staff was hard pressed to keep pace
with the rising work. There now seemed no reason to believe that the
success of the farmers' venture was any longer in doubt so far as the
commercial side of it was concerned.
But the President and directors had in mind a much broader
objective. It was not enough that the farmer should receive a few more
cents per bushel for his grain.
We must bear clearly in mind, warned T. A. Crerar, that there are
still those interests who would delight in nothing more than in our
failure and destruction. A great many improvements require yet to be
made in our system of handling grain. The struggle for the bringing
about of those reforms is not by any means accomplished. As a great
class of farmers, composing the most important factor in the progress
and development of our country, we must learn the lesson that we must
organize and work together to secure those legislative and economic
reforms necessary to well-being. In the day of our prosperity we must
not forget that there are yet many wrongs to be righted and that true
happiness and success in life cannot be measured by the wealth we
acquire. In the mad, debasing struggle for material riches and
pleasure, which is so characteristic of our age, we often neglect and
let go to decay the finer and higher side of our nature and lose
thereby that power of sympathy with our fellows which finds expression
in lending them a helping hand and in helping in every good work which
tends to increase human happiness and lessen human misery. In keeping
this in view we keep in mind that high ideal which will make our
organization not alone a material success but also a factor in changing
those conditions which now tend to stifle the best that is in
An important step towards the upholding of these ideals was now
taken by the directors. The President and the Vice-President happened
to be in a little printshop one day, looking over the proof of a
pamphlet which the Company was about to issue, when the former picked
up a little school journal which was just off the press for the
Why can't we get out a little journal like that? he wondered. It
would be a great help to our whole movement.
About this time the Company was approached by a Winnipeg farm paper
which devoted a page to the doings of the grain growers.
If you'll help us to get subscriptions amongst the farmers, said
the publisher, we'll devote more space still to the doings of the
But why should we build up another man's paper for him? argued the
President. Why can't we get out a journal for ourselves?
The idea grew more insistent the longer it was entertained, and
although at first E. A. Partridge, who was on the directorate, was
opposed to such a venture, he finally agreed that it would be of untold
assistance to the farmers if they had a paper of their own to voice
their ideals. The logical editor for the new undertaking was E. A.
Partridge, of course, and accordingly he began to gather material for
the first issue of a paper, to be called the Grain Growers' Guide.
Partridge had a few ideas of his own that had lived with him for a
long time. On occasion he had introduced some of them to his friends
with characteristic eloquence and the eloquence of E. A. Partridge on a
favorite theme was something worth listening to; also, he gave his
auditors much to think about and sometimes got completely beyond their
depth. It was then that some of them were forced to shake their heads
at theories which appeared to them to be so idealistic that their
practical consummation belonged to a future generation.
In connection with this new paper it was Partridge's idea to issue
it as a weekly and as the official organ of the grain growers' trading
company instead of the grain growers' movement as a whole. He thought,
too, that it would be advisable to join hands with The Voice,
which was the organ of the Labor unions. The President and the other
officers could not agree that any of these was wise at the start; it
would be better, they thought, to creep before trying to walk, to issue
the paper as a monthly at first and to have it the official organ of
the Grain Growers' Associations rather than the trading company alone.
This failure of his associates to see the wisdom of his plan to
amalgamate with the organ of the Labor unions was a great
disappointment to Partridge; for he had been working towards this
consummation for some time, devoutly wished it and considered the time
opportune for such a move. He believed it to be of vital importance to
the Cause and its future. In October he had met with an unfortunate
accident, having fallen from his binder and so injured his foot in the
machinery that amputation was necessary; he was in no condition to
undertake new and arduous duties in organizing a publishing proposition
as he was still suffering greatly from his injury. On the verge of a
nervous breakdown, it required only the upsetting of the plans he had
cherished to make him give up altogether and he resigned the editorship
of the new magazine after getting out the first number.
I'm too irritable to get along with anybody in an office, he
declared. I know I'm impatient and all that, boys. You'd better send
for McKenzie to come in from Brandon and edit the paper.
This suggestion of his editorial successor seemed to the others to
be a good one; for Roderick McKenzie had been Secretary of the Manitoba
Grain Growers' Association from the first and had been a prime mover in
its activities as well as wielding considerable influence in the other
two prairie provinces where he was well known and appreciated. He was
well posted, McKenzie.
So the Vice-President wired him to come down to Winnipeg at once.
Yes, he was well posted in the farming business, Rod. McKenzie. He
had learned it in the timber country before he took to it in the land
of long grass. At eleven years of age he was plowing with a yoke of
oxen on the stump lands of Huron, helping his father to scratch a
living out of the bush farm for a family of nine and between whiles
attending a little log schoolhouse, going on cedar-gum expeditions,
getting lost in the bush and indulging in other pioneer pastimes.
Along in 1877, when people were talking a lot about Dakota as a
farming country, McKenzie took a notion to go West; but he preferred to
stay under the British flag and Winnipeg was his objective. A friend of
his was running a flour-mill at Gladstone (then called Palestine),
Manitoba, and young McKenzie decided to take a little walk out that way
to visit him. It was a wade, rather than a walk! It was the year the
country was flooded and during the first thirty days after his arrival
he could count only three consecutive days without rain. In places the
water was up to his hips and when he reached the flour-mill there was
four feet of water inside of it.
Such conditions were abnormal, of course, and due to lack of
settlement and drainage. After helping to build the first railway
through the country Roderick McKenzie eventually located his farm near
Brandon and so far as the rich land and the climate were concerned he
was entirely satisfied.
Not so with the early marketing of his grain, though. He disposed of
two loads of wheat at one of the elevators in Brandon one day and was
given a grade and price which he considered fair enough. When he came
in with two more loads of the same kind of wheat next day, however, the
elevator man told him that he had sent a sample to Winnipeg and found
out that it was not grading the grade he had given him the day before.
The train service wouldn't allow of such fast work, sir, said
Roderick McKenzie. I suppose you sent it by wire! He picked up the
reins. That five cents a bushel you want me to give you looks just as
good in my pocket as in yours.
So he drove up town where the other buyers were and three of them
looked at the wheat but refused to give a price for it. One of them was
a son of the first elevator man to whom he had gone and, said he:
The Old Man gave you a knockdown for it, didn't he?
Well, we're not going to bid against him and if you want to sell it
at all, haul it back to him.
As there was nothing else he could do under the conditions that
prevailed, McKenzie was forced to pocket his loss without recourse.
With such experiences it is scarcely necessary to say that when the
grain growers' movement started in Manitoba Roderick McKenzie occupied
a front seat. He was singled out at once for a place on the platform
and was elected Secretary of the Brandon branch of the Association. At
the annual convention of the Manitoba locals he was made Secretary of
the Provincial Association, a position which he filled until 1916, when
he became Secretary of the Canadian Council of Agriculture.
His activities in the interests of the Association have made him a
well-known figure in many circles. From the first he had been very much
in favor of the farmers' trading company and only the restrictions of
his official position with the Association had prevented him from
taking a more prominent part in its affairs. As it was, the benefit of
his experience was frequently sought.
McKenzie was plowing in the field when the boy from the telegraph
office reached him with John Kennedy's message.
They don't say what they want me for; but I guess I'm wanted or
they wouldn't send a telegramHaw! Back you! And like Cincinnatus at
the call of the State in the brave days of old, McKenzie unhitched
the horses and leaving the plow where it stood, made for the house,
packed his grip and caught the next train for Winnipeg.
John Kennedy met him at the station.
What's wrong? demanded the Secretary of the Manitoba Grain
Growers' Association at once. I came right along as soon as I got your
wire, Kennedy. What's up now?
The editor of the Grain Growers' Guide. Partridge wants you
to take his place.
ME? Why, I never edited anything in my life! cried McKenzie,
standing stock still on the platform.
Pshaw! Come along, laughed Kennedy reassuringly. You'll be
alright. It ain't hard to do.
CHAPTER XI. FROM THE RED RIVER
VALLEY TO THE FOOTHILLS
It ain't the guns or armament nor the funds that they can pay,
But the close co-operation that makes them win the day;
It ain't the individual, nor the army as a whole,
But the everlastin' team-work of every bloomin' soul!
At one of the early grain growers' conventions it had been voiced as
an ideal that there were three things which the farmers' movement
neededfirst, a trading company to sell their products (with
ultimately, it might be, the cheaper distribution of farm supplies);
second, a bank in which they could own stock; third, a paper that would
publish the farmers' views. So that if the new Executive of the Company
had done little else than break ground for better financial
arrangements and a farmers' own paper, their record for the year would
have shown progress.
But when the second annual meeting of the Company was held they were
able to show that the volume of farmers' grain handled was almost five
million bushels, double that of the first year, while the net profits
amounted to over thirty thousand dollars. The number of farmer
shareholders had increased to nearly three thousand with applications
on file for another twelve hundred and a steady awakening of interest
among the farmers was to be noticed all over the West. All this in
spite of the general shortage of money, a reduced total crop yield and
the keenest competition from rival grain interests.
It had been apparent to the directors that if the business grew as
conditions seemed to warrant it doing, it would require to be highly
organized. Bit by bit the service to the farmer was being widened. For
instance, the nucleus of a Claims Department had been established
during the year; for under the laws governing the Canadian railway
companies the latter were required to deliver to terminal elevators the
amount of grain a farmer loaded into a car and to leave the car in a
suitable condition to receive grain. The official weights at the
terminal were unquestioned and if a farmer could furnish reasonable
evidence of the quantity of grain he had loaded, any leakage in transit
would furnish a claim case against the railway. During six months the
farmers' company had collected for its shippers nearly two thousand
dollars in such claims, a beginning sufficient to illustrate that the
Company was destined to serve the farmers in many practical ways if
they would only stand behind it.
IF the farmers would stand behind it! But would they? It was a
question which was forever popping up to obscure the future. Many
tongues were busy with inuendo to belittle what the farmers had
accomplished already and to befog their efforts to advance still
farther. At every shipping point in the West industrious little mallets
were knocking away on the Xylophone of Doubt, all playing the same
tune: Just Kiss Yourself Good-Bye! No farmers' business organization
ever had been a success in the past and none ever could be. This new
trading venture was going to go off with a loud bang one of these fine
days and every farmer who had shipped grain to it would stand a
first-class chance of losing it. You betcha! The Grain Growers'
Associations mightn't be so bad; yes, they'd done some good. But this
concern in the grain businessrun by a few men, wasn't it? Well, say,
does a cat go by a saucer of cream without taking a lick? Farmers'
company they called it, eh? Go and tell it to your grandmother!
The worst of it was that in many localities were farmers who
believed this very suggestion alreadythat the Company belonged to the
men at the head of its affairs. Discouraged by past failures and
without much respect for the dignity of their occupation, their
attitude towards the Company was almost automatic. That it was a great
co-operative movement of their class, designed to improve economic and
social conditions, was something quite out of their grasp. And upon
these strings, already out of tune, elevator men strummed diligently in
an effort to create discord.
From the first it had been like that. Friends who would speak a good
word for the struggling venture at the time it was most needed were
about as scarce as horns on a horse. On the other hand the organizers
ran across the knockers at every turn. A traveller for one of the
milling companies, for instance, happened to get into conversation on
the train with E. A. Partridge one day. The latter was a stranger to
him and he naturally supposed he was talking to just a farmer. The
subject of conversation was the grain trade and this traveller began to
make a few remarks about the little grain company that had started
What about that company? asked Partridge with visible interest.
I've heard a lot about it.
Oh, it's just a little dinky affair, laughed the traveller.
They've got a little office about ten feet square and they actually
have a typewriter! They get a car or two a month. Don't amount to
For a full hour he kept the chutes open and filled his interested
auditor with all the latest brands of misrepresentation and ridicule.
He explained why it was that the farmers' effort was nothing but a joke
and how foolish it would be for any farmer to send business to it. He
was a good salesman, this traveller, and he was sure he had sold this
rather intelligent hayseed when he got to the end of his talk and his
station was called.
I've really enjoyed this, assured Partridge gratefully. As a
farmer I'm naturally interested in that sort of thing, you know, and
I've got a particular interest in that little grain company. My name is
Partridge and I only want to say
But the traveller had grabbed his club bag and was off down the
aisle as fast as he could go. Salesmanship is punctuated by
psychological moments and good salesmen always know when to leave. He
did not look around. His ears were very red.
It was funny. No, it wasn't, either! Lies about the Company, thought
the then President, would travel a thousand miles before the Truth
could get its boots on! It was not a matter for amusement at all.
As the little dinky affair became a competitor of increasing
strength in the grain trade the efforts of a section of the grain men,
particularly the elevator interests, to discredit it among the farmers
became more and more marked. While the farmers' company was not openly
attacked, influences nevertheless were constantly at work to undermine
in roundabout ways. The elevator men were in a strong position to fight
hard and they pressed every advantage. At practically every shipping
point they had agents whose business it was to secure shipments of
grain in car lots as well as buying on street. Many of these men were
very popular locally and as individuals were good fellows, well liked
by their farmer friends. A rebate on the charges for loading grain
through an elevator or the mere fact that letting the elevator have it
saved the bother of writing a letterthese were excellent inducements
to the unthinking farmer, and when added to this was the element of
personal acquaintance with the buyer, it was hard to refuse.
For your farmer is a man of simple code. He is not versed in
subterfuge and diplomacy. He takes words at their face value, unless he
distrusts you, just as he hands them out himself. He lives a clean,
honest life and earns his money. If in some cases his viewpoint is
narrowed by treading much in the same furrows, it is at least an honest
viewpoint in which he really believes. And one of the things in which
the average farmer prides himself is that he will never go back on a
friend. Even a red Indian would not do that!
In selling to the elevator these same farmers probably had no
intention of unfriendliness to the farmers' trading company. They hoped
to see it succeed but did not appreciate their individual
responsibility in the matter or realize that while their own personal
defection represented a loss to the Company of just one shipment, the
loss became vital when multiplied many times all along the line. And
the Company had no agent on the ground to argue this out, face to face.
Although many requests for the appointment of such local agents
reached the office, the directors decided that it would be poor policy
as it would mean appointing agents everywhere and abuses might develop.
It would be easy under such a system for an impression to get abroad
that favoritism was being shown in appointments; jealousies and
disappointments might be the result. On the other hand, one of the
greatest sources of strength which the Company could foster would be a
sense of individual responsibility among its farmer shareholderseach
shareholder an agent for his own grain and that of his non-member
neighbors, each doing his part to keep down the handling cost of his
grain and build up his own company. In the meantime it were better to
lose some grain than run the risk of disrupting the whole movementto
let the elevators enjoy their advantage until it became a nullity by
education of the farmer himself.
Such educational work was already a regular part of the routine.
Pamphlets and circulars were issued from time to time, dealing with
prevailing conditions, advocating amendments to the Grain Act, etc.,
and explaining the need for government ownership of elevators. The
feeling that the Provincial governments should acquire and operate all
storage facilities in the way of elevators and warehouses was spreading
rapidly among farmers and business men.
In the second year the Grain Growers' Grain Company began to export
several small shipments, more for the sake of the experience than
anything else. A very extensive line of credit was necessary to go into
the export business and, until the arrangement with the Home Bank
developed this, their hands were tied in the matter of exporting for
themselves. Their third year in business, though, found their financial
relations so improved that they were able to do a considerable and
profitable business in the exporting of grain, thereby advancing
definitely towards one objective which the farmers had had from the
first. Most of the grain which the Company handled in this way was sold
to exporters in the Eastern States and in Eastern Canada, this method
being found more satisfactory than selling direct to buyers in the Old
Country at this time.
In spite of everything, therefore, things were swinging the farmers'
way. The whole Farmers' Movement was expanding, solidifying,
particularly in Alberta, which for so long had been primarily a cattle
country. Grain production was now increasing rapidly in this Province
of the Foothills and Chinooks and the future shipment of Alberta grain
to the Pacific Coast and thence via the new Panama Canal route was a
live topic. Owing to special conditions prevailing in the farthest west
of the three Prairie Provinces the Grain Growers' movement there did
not solidify until 1909 into its final cohesion under the name, United
Farmers of Alberta.
Prior to this the farmers of Alberta had been organized into two
groupsthe Canadian Society of Equity and the Alberta Farmers'
Association. The first had its beginnings among some farmers from the
United Statesmostly from Nebraska and Dakotawho settled near
Edmonton and who in their former home had been members of the American
Society of Equity. These farmers in 1904-5 organized some branches of
the American Society after arrival in the new land and, becoming
ambitious, formed the Canadian Society of Equity with the idea of
owning and controlling their own flour and lumber mills and what not.
For this Purpose they got together a concern called The Canadian
Society of Equity, Limited, and bought a timber limit, so called. They
secured shareholders in all parts of Alberta and the concern went to
smash in 1907, this unfortunate failure making doubly shy those farmers
who had been bitten.
Meanwhile, in 1905, the members of the local branch of the American
Society of equity which had been established at Clover Bar had reached
the conclusion that the work of the Society did not meet the
requirements of conditions in Alberta and that it was not desirable to
have the farmers of the province organized into two campsthe Society
of Equity on one hand and the Alberta branches of the Territorial Grain
Growers' Association on the other. Especially now that the Territories
were to be established into the Provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta,
it was desirable that reorganization and a change of name take place.
Accordingly the Clover Bar branch of the American Society of Equity and
the Strathcona branch of the Territorial Grain Growers' Association got
their heads together on a proposal to amalgamate into one farmers'
organization under the name, Alberta Farmers' Association.
Under the impression that this was a veiled scheme of the Grain
Growers to swallow their organization whole, the Society of Equity
turned down the idea of amalgamation. The Clover Bar farmers withdrew
from the Society and joined the Strathcona Grain Growers in forming the
nucleus of a provincial farmers' association as planned.
Owing to the mixed nature of Alberta's agricultural population and
to the general distrust of farmers' organizations the new Alberta
Farmers' Association faced a difficult situation. But the principles
laid down by their leaders were so fair, so sane and broad-minded, that
in two years the Association became an influence in almost every line
of trade in the province. They organized a very successful seed fair, a
feature of which was a meeting to discuss improvement of the market for
live stock, especially hogs; this resulted in the appointment of a Pork
Commission. At their convention in 1906 the Association took stand on
such important matters as the special grading of Alberta Hard Winter
Wheat, the establishment of a terminal elevator at the Pacific Coast,
of a pork-packing and beef-chilling plant by the Provincial Government,
etc. In the discussion of everything affecting the welfare of the
farmers the Association played an important part and it was at their
request that the Provincial Government sent an agent to investigate the
markets of British Columbia with the idea of closer relations.
A second attempt to amalgamate with the Canadian Society of Equity,
which had succeeded the American Society, had fallen through and there
were still two farmers' organizations in the Province of Alberta.
However, with the progress being made with the Provincial Government in
connection with the pork-packing and beef-chilling plant and with the
Dominion Government in regard to government ownership of terminal
elevators, the farmers as a whole began to see the need of closer
union. Such wide measures as a system of government-owned internal
elevators were bringing the farmers of all three Western provinces into
closer conference and in 1908 the feeling in favor of amalgamation of
all Alberta farmers into one organization began to crystallize.
Finally in September a conference was held between representatives
of the Alberta Farmers' Association and the Canadian Society of Equity.
The constitution drafted at this conference was submitted to the annual
conventions of both bodies at Edmonton on January 13th, 1909. The
following morning the delegates of the Canadian Society of Equity
marched from their hall to the convention of the Alberta Farmers'
Association and amid great cheers the two became one under the name,
United Farmers of Alberta, with Equity as their motto, and with a
strong coalition directorate.
Until now each of the organizations had had its separate official
organ; but on amalgamation these were dropped and the Grain Growers'
Guide adopted as the official organ for Alberta. First published
under the auspices of the Manitoba Grain Growers' Association, the
Guide now represented the farmers' movement in all three provinces.
The wisdom of its establishment was being proved steadily. Its
circulation was gathering momentum with every issue. It was now coming
out as a weekly and its pages were filled with valuable information for
the farmer on every subject dealing with the marketing of his produce.
Also it was proving a wonderful educator on such large questions as
government ownership of elevators, the tariff, control of public
service corporations and so forth. The farmer was getting information
which he had never been able to obtain before and he was getting it
without distortion, uncolored by convenient imagination, plain as Fact
An up-to-date printing plant had been installed to print the
Guide and do a general job-printing business, and this was
organized as a separate company under the name of the Public Press,
In addition to all the difficulties which usually attend the
building of a publishing enterprise to success, the farmers' own
journal had to face many more which were due to the special nature of
its policies. Manufacturers who disapproved of its attitude on the
tariff, for instance, refused for a long while to use its advertising
columns. Each year as the Guide's struggle went on there was an
annual deficit and had it not been for the grants with which the Grain
Growers' Grain Company came to its rescue, the paper must have gone
under. For this financial assistance the farmers' trading company got
no return except the satisfaction of knowing that the money could not
be spent to better advantage in the interests of Western farmers.
With the rapid developments in Alberta and the probable future
shipment of Alberta grain via the Panama Canal route, branch offices
were being opened at Calgary by Winnipeg grain dealers. Not to be
behind in the matter of service, the farmers' company followed suit. A
Seed Branch Department to supply good seed grain was another
improvement in service and the farmers by this time were taking a keen
interest in their trading organization.
When the third annual meeting came around, there was no longer any
doubt that a farmers' business organization could succeedthat
this venture of the Grain Growers was not going to go off with a
loud bangat least, not yet.
But, as the President remarked, it seemed that they had no more than
touched the fringe of what remained to be accomplished. One of the
immediate questions pressing for solution, he considered, was
government ownership of elevators.
Our Company's experience has demonstrated completely, he said,
that our grain marketing conditions can never reach a proper basis as
long as the elevators necessary for that marketing are allowed to
remain in private hands for private gain. The Grain Growers'
Associations are the one thing above everything else that stands
between the farmer and the power of merciless corporations. They have
undoubtedly been the greatest shield this Company has had since its
organization; they have helped the Company to prove, far beyond any
question of doubt, the advantages of co-operation.
And what had the elevator men to say about all this? Surely these
farmers were becoming a menace! At the present rate of speed another
three years would see them in control of the grain business and was
that good for the grain business? Was it good for the farmer? The
elevator men did not think so.
Strangely enough, they were not worrying greatly about government
ownership. They were more interested in the fact that the volume of
grain which had flowed so faithfully all these years was being split up
by all these commission menthese hangers-on who invested little or no
capital but necked right up to the profits of the trade as if they
owned the whole business!
Trouble was brewing on the Winnipeg Grain Exchangehad been for
Then one day word reached the office of the Grain Growers' Grain
Company that by a majority vote the Grain Exchange had suspended, for a
period of one year, the Commission Rule under which grain was handled.
Thus did things come to a showdown.
 See AppendixPar. 10.
CHAPTER XII. THE SHOWDOWN
It's scarcely in a body's power
Tae keep at times frae being sour
Tae see how things are shared.
A fight was on between the elevator interests and the commission
merchants of the Winnipeg Grain Exchangea fight for existence. For,
with the Commission Rule of the Exchange eliminated, those firms which
handled grain on a straight commission basis would be forced to meet
the competition of the elevator buyers and the chances were they would
be forced to handle grain at a loss; the best they could hope for would
be to cover their costs.
It will be remembered that this Commission Rule, established in
1899, was that a charge of one cent commission per bushel should be
made for handling grain and that all members of the Exchange dealing in
grain must show that the price paid was the price at the terminal (Fort
William) less the freight and one cent per bushel commission. This
commission could be neither more nor less than one cent; for at that
time it was felt that business could not be done, offices maintained
and an efficient and reliable service given for less. It was a charge
which both farmers and grain men considered fair and reasonable.
The trouble in the Exchange started when the commission men claimed
the right to have country agents and to pay them on a commission basis
of one-quarter cent per bushel. The elevator companies were able to buy
at elevator points through their salaried representatives but the
commission men were prohibited from having country agents except on a
salary basis, and this they could not afford, handling grain on
For some years past there had been considerable dissatisfaction
among Exchange members in regard to the operation of the Commission
rule, doubt being entertained that all the members were keeping good
faith in the collection of the full commission charge of one cent to
non-members of the Exchange and one-half cent per bushel to members on
country consigned and purchased grain. Although the Council of the
Exchange had held many special meetings in an endeavor to find a remedy
and to investigate the charges, the results had not been very marked
owing to the difficulty of securing the evidence to support such
This was given as a reason for the doing away with the one cent
commission restriction altogether for a trial period of one year.
Thereby the trade was put on a free for all basis, as the President
of the Exchange then in office pointed out. It meant that Exchange
members were enabled to pay owners of grain in the country any price
they desired without regard to actual market values as regularly
established on the floor of the Exchange. It was the personal opinion
of the President that to preserve stable markets with uniformity and
discipline amongst Exchange members a commission rule was absolutely
necessary and he predicted that perhaps in a short while, after the
suspension of the Commission Rule had been given a fair trial, the
Exchange might see its way clear to rescind the suspension.
Just so, nodded the commission men among themselves. The logical
and certain result will be the weeding out of the commission men and
track buyers, who give practically the only element of competition that
exists in the trade! One of the curses of our Canadian commercialism is
the strong tendency to monopoly and this looks like an effort to create
an absolute elevator monopoly of the grain trade, which is the staple
industry of the country.
But if the small dealers on the Exchange were aroused, what about
the farmers' trading company? They did business on a commission basis
only and with the elevators offering to handle the farmers' grain for
nothing, or next door to it, what would happen? Would the farmer be
unable to see past his nose, as was predicted? Would he forget the
conditions of the early days and grab for a present saving of five or
ten dollars per car? If the farmers did not stand together now, they
were licked! It was a showdown.
There was only one thing to dotake a referendum of the
shareholders as to the basis on which they wished the year's business
handled. The Board of Control of the Grain Growers' Grain Company
therefore issued the following circular letter, which was mailed to
every farmer shareholder:
This matter we now bring to your notice is the most important yet.
At a meeting of the Grain Exchange, held a few days ago, the
Commission Rule was suspended for a year. This means that there is no
fixed charge for handling grain, and any company or firm can, if they
wish, handle car lots for nothing. How did this come about? The
Elevator Companies did it with the aid of Bank Managers and other
Winnipeg men outside of the Grain Trade, who hold seats on the
Exchange, and voted with them. The intention of these Elevator
Companies is to handle all grain for 1/2c. per bushel or for nothing in
order to take it away from the Commission Men, who have no elevators,
and especially to keep it away from the Grain Growers' Grain Company.
The Elevator Companies can handle farmers' cars for nothing and
still not lose anything. How? In four ways
1st. They all buy street grain and the immense profits they make on
this will make up for any loss they have in handling cars for nothing.
2nd. The dockage they get on street grain and on car lots passed
through their elevators helps them.
3rd. The charges on the cars loaded through their elevators helps
4th. When they get your car it is sent to their own terminal
elevator, and they earn the storage on it there which is very
The commission man, such as ourselves, has none of these things to
fall back on. His profit is what is left out of the cent a bushel
commission after all expenses such as rent, taxes, insurance, wages for
office help, telegrams, telephone, etc., are paid.
The Elevator Combine know this. They know the weakness of the
commission dealers' position and the strength of their own, and knowing
it, deliberately cut out the commission and will offer to handle the
farmers' grain for nothing in order to put the only opposition they
have out of business. And mark you! this is aimed at our company more
than any other, though we believe they are after all commission
dealers. Some of them have said so. They want to kill us and they think
they have at last found a way. Their dodge is simple. By handling cars
for half a cent or nothing, they are going to bribe the farmers and our
own shareholders to send cars away from us, and by keeping grain from
us help to kill us and plant us that deep we shall never come up again.
In this way they hope to 'rule the roost' and get back the good old
days they had ten or twelve years ago.
Can they succeed? It depends on the men who ship the grain. If they
support the combine by giving the elevators (or the commission houses
that work for the elevators under a different name) their cars, they
may soon expect to find themselves in a worse position than they have
ever been before.
As a prominent commission man said the other day, 'The elevator
companies are asking the farmers to help at their own funeral.' It is
an anxious time for our own company. We have shown that with anything
like fair play it may succeed. We have been growing stronger and, we
believe, doing some good. Are our shareholders and friends going to
take the bribe that is meant to put us out of business? We hope and
believe not. For this reason we are taking a referendum vote of our
It was at this crisis that the Grain Growers' Guide had an
opportunity of demonstrating its value to the farmers as a fighting
weapon. It seized the cudgels and waded right into the thick of the
controversy without fear or favor. It came out flat-footed in its
charges against the elevator interests and emphasized the warning of
the Company in language that carried no double meaning.
We have no quarrel with the Winnipeg Grain Exchange as an
Exchange, said the Guide. It is a convenience for gathering
reports from other parts of the world, market conditions, and for
drafting rules that facilitate and simplify business dealings.
As we have often pointed out, however, the Exchange is being used
by the Elevator Interests that seem to dominate it, to further their
own particular ends with the result that the nefarious methods of the
Elevator Trust bring suspicion and condemnation upon the Exchange and
The demand for the Royal Grain Commission arose from the methods
pursued by the Elevator Companies in dealing with the farmers at
country points. The pooling of receipts at country points is not
forgotten by the farmers; heavy dockage and unfair grading and low
prices paid when the farmers were compelled to sell and could not help
themselves, are also not forgotten.
Every injustice and disturbance in the trade that has taken place
since grain commenced to be marketed in Manitoba, can be traced to the
The farmers of this country owe nothing to the Elevator Trust and
we have confidence enough in them to believe that they will not be
bought over by them now. The Commission Men and Track Buyers certainly
owe nothing to this trust either. They have helped in the past to carry
the suspicion and sin arising from its methods and it commences to look
as if they were getting tired of carrying the load.
Column after column of such plain talk was given place in the
Guide week after week, together with reports of Grain Exchange
proceedings, interviews with commission men and elevator men,
pronouncements of Grain Exchange officials and comment upon pamphlets
circulated amongst the farmers by the North-West Grain Dealers'
Association, etc. Everything having a bearing upon the situation was
brought to light and analyzed. Letters from farmers throughout the
country were published as fast as they reached the editor's desk, and
they were coming pretty fast, about as fast as the mail could bring
They were reaching the office of the farmers' trading company by the
bagful. The Company had asked three definite questions of the farmers
in connection with the commission to be charged on grain shipped to the
Companywhether or not the old rate should be maintained in spite of
the action of the Exchange; whether the commission should be reduced;
whether the whole matter should be left to the discretion of the
directors. The letters poured in by the thousand and only two per cent.
of the farmers recommended any reduction in the rates; of the
remainder, seventy per cent. were in favor of the Company maintaining
the one cent commission and the other twenty-eight per cent. were
willing to abide by the decision of the directors.
The comments contained in some of these letters revealed strong
feeling. Many farmers were ready to pay two cents commission per bushel
if necessary, rather than sell to the monopolies.
I will pledge myself to ship every bushel of grain I grow to the
Farmers' Company, wrote one, even though the directors found it
necessary to charge me five cents per bushel, coin.
No, they cauna draw the blinds ower the daylights o' a Scotchman,
assured one old son of the heather. I am verra pleased to leave the
hale concern in your hands as I do believe you are thoroughly plumb and
With this encouragement the directors announced that they would
continue to charge a commission of one cent per bushel on wheat shipped
to them, just as if the Commission Rule had not been suspended by the
Exchange. Other commission merchants, they knew, intended to reduce
their charges to half a cent per bushel; the elevator men, they
expected, would handle the grain for the same and in many cases for
nothing in order to persuade the farmers to ship their way. It would be
a great temptation to many farmers who had been sitting on the fence,
shouting Sic 'em! but never lifting a little finger to help, and it
was to be expected that those with limited vision would ship their
grain where they could make the biggest saving at the time.
Notwithstanding, the directors believed that the majority of the
farmers would not prove one cent wise and many dollars foolish by
failing to realize what the future might hold in store if the elevators
succeeded in killing off competition. Finding that it was possible to
handle oats on a smaller margin, they made the farmers a gift reduction
of half a cent per bushel on oat shipments; otherwise the former rate
The wheat ripened. Harvesting began. The long grain trains commenced
to drag into Winnipeg across the miles of prairie. By the middle of
September the weekly receipts of the farmers' company were running to
744 cars. In 1907 they had handled about five per cent. of the crop and
seven and one-half per cent. of the 1908 crop; of the total number of
cars so far inspected in this year of free for all methods, the Grain
Growers' Grain Company handled about fifteen per cent.
When the end of the season brought the figures to a final total it
was found that the farmers' organization had handled well over sixteen
million bushels of farmers' grain. This was an increase over the
preceding year of nearly nine million bushels, or 114 per cent. It was
nearly one and one-half million bushels greater than all the previous
years of operation and represented one-eighth of all the grain
inspected during the year in Western Canada.
CHAPTER XIII. THE MYSTERIOUS MR.
Observation tells me that you have a little reddish mold adhering to
your instep. . . . So much is observation. The rest is deduction.
Sign of Four (Doyle).
In Prehistoric Days, when one man hied himself from his cave to
impress his ideas upon another the persuasion used took the form of a
wallop on the head with a stone axe. It was the age of Individual
Opinion. But as Man hewed his way upward along Time's tangled trails
personal opinions began to jog along together in groups, creating
Force. With the growth of populations and the invention of printing
this power was called Public Opinion and experience soon taught the
folly of ignoring it.
In the course of human aspiration Somebody who had a Bright Mind got
the notion that in order to get his own way without fighting the crowd
all he had to do was to educate the Great Common Pee-pul to his way
of thinking and by sowing enough seed in public places up would come
whatever kind of crop he wanted. Thus, by making Public Opinion himself
he would avoid the hazard of opposing it. The name of this Sagacious
Pioneer of Special Privilege who manufactured the first carload of
Public Opinion is lost to posterity; all that is known about him is
that he was a close student of the Art of concealing Artifice by
Artlessness and therefore wore gum rubbers on his feet and carried
around a lot of Presents to give away.
It is quite possible to direct the thought of Tom-Dick-and-Harry. A
skillful orator can swing a crowd from laughter to anger and back
again. The politician who prepares a speech for a set occasion builds
his periods for applause with every confidence. But it was to the
public prints that they who sought the manufacture of Public Opinion
were in the habit of turning.
There has always been something very convincing about cold print.
The little boy believes that the cow really did jump over the moon; for
isn't it right there in the nursery book with a picture of her doing
it? And despite the disillusionments of an accelerated age many readers
still cherish an old-time faith in their favorite newspapera faith
which is a relic of the days when the freedom of the press was a new
and sacred heritage and the public bought the paper to learn what
Joseph Howe, George Brown, Franklin, Greeley or Dana thought about
things. This period gave place gradually to the great modern newspaper,
the product in some cases of a publishing company so limited that it
thought mostly in terms of dollars and cents and political preferments.
When the cub reporter rushed in to his city editor with eyes
sparkling he cried out enthusiastically:
Gee, I've got a peach of a story! Old John Smith's daughter's
eloped with the chauffeur. She's a movie fan and
But it did not get into the paper for the very good reason that Old
John was the proprietor of the big departmental store which took a
full-page advertisement in every issue the year around. The editor
would have used it soon enough, butthe business office!
Then there was the theatrical press-agent, a regular caller with his
advance notices and free electros of coming attractions, his press
Give us a chance, old man, he pleaded, perhaps laying down a good
cigar. Say, that was a rotten roast you handed us last week.
Yes, and it was a rotten show! the editor would retort. I saw it
The telephone rings, maybethe business office again.
The Blank Theatre have doubled their space with us, Charlie. Go
easy on 'em for awhile, will you?
The floor around the editor's desk was scuffed by the timid boots of
the man who wanted his name kept out of the paper and the sure tread of
the corporation representative who wanted his company's name mentioned
on every possible occasion. Business interests, railway corporations,
financial institutionsmany of these had a regular department for the
purpose of supplying news to the press. Some American railroads
finally took to owning a string of papers outright, directly or
indirectly, and one big Trust went so far as to control a telegraphic
In fact, to such a pass did things come in the United States that
the exploitation of the press became a menace to public interest and a
law was passed, requiring every publication to register the name of its
proprietor; in the case of corporate ownerships the names of the
shareholders had to be filed and the actual owners of stock held in
trust had to be named also. This information had to be printed in every
issue and the penalties for suppression or falsification were drastic.
No such law was passed in Canada, although the reflection of the
situation in the United States cast high lights and shadows across the
northern boundary. Partizan politics were rife in Canada and too often
have party organs and subsidies dampered down the fires of
independence in the past. A few journals, however, even in the days
before the great changes of the War, placed a jealous guard upon their
absolute freedom from trammelling influences and to-day they reap the
reward of public confidence.
While not a newspaper, the Grain Growers' Guide was a highly
specialized journal for the Western farmer, aiming frankly at educating
him to be the owner of his land, his produce, his self-respect and his
franchise; to make him self-thinking and self-reliant and to defend him
from unjust slurs.
The editorial responsibility of carrying out such a programme in the
face of existing conditions required a well chosen staff. In Roderick
McKenzie, then Secretary of the Manitoba Grain Growers' Association,
the farmers had an editor upon whose viewpoint they could depend; for
he was one of themselves. But lacking practical experience in newspaper
work, it was necessary to secure an Associate Editor who would figure
largely in the practical management of the publication. McKenzie was
finding that his duties as Secretary of the Association were becoming
too heavy for him to attempt editorial services as well; so that not
long after the appointment of an Associate Editor he decided to devote
his whole time to his official duties.
In its selection of a young man to take hold the Guide was
fortunate. George Fisher Chipman was not only a very practical
newspaper man to meet the immediate needs of the young journal, but he
was capable of expanding rapidly with his opportunities. Well versed in
the economic problems of the day, he was known already in many magazine
offices as a reliable contributor upon current topics. He was well
poised and, as legislative reporter for the Manitoba Free Press,
Chipman had made something of a reputation for himself on both sides of
the political fence as a man who endeavored to be fair and who upheld
at all times the traditional honor of the press.
By training and inclination Chipman was in complete sympathy with
the Farmers' Movement in Western Canada. Away east, in the Valley of
Evangeline, near Grand Pré, Nova Scotia, he was brought up on a farm,
learning the farmers' viewpoint as afterwards he came to know that of
the big men in the cities. He believed in co-operation, his father
having been a leader in every farmers' organization in Nova Scotia for
more than twenty years.
It was not long before the young editor's influence made itself
manifest in the official paper of the Western farmers. He saw many ways
of improving it and organizing it for the widest possible service in
its field. Editorially he believed in calling a spade a spade and,
being free from political restrictions, Chipman did not hesitate to
get after politicians of all stripes whenever their actions seemed to
provide fit subject for criticism.
By the time the Commission Rule difficulty arose the Guide
had increased its weekly circulation by many thousands. The new editor
seized the opportunity for active service and waged an effective
campaign. The Grain Exchange finally restored the One-Cent Commission
Rule and never since has it been dropped.
Meanwhile, however, hostilities broke out anew in an unexpected
direction. They took the form of letters to the press and they began
to appear in five papers which were published in Winnipegtwo
newspapers and three farm journals. Concealing his identity under the
nom-de-plume, Observer, the writer attacked the Grain Growers'
Grain Company and the men at the head of it. Declaring himself to be a
farmer, Mr. Observer endeavored to discredit the farmers' trading
organization by casting suspicion upon its motives and methods of
business. As letter followed letter it became evident that the object
in view was to stir up discontent among the farmers with the way their
own agency was being conducted.
After issuing a single, dignified and convincing refutation of these
attacks, the Company ignored the anonymous enemy. But the gauntlet was
picked up by the Grain Growers' Guide. It lay right at the
editor's feet. Chipman recognized a direct challenge and did not
propose to drop the matter with a denial in the columns of his
papereven with a dozen denials. His old reportorial instinct was
aroused. Who was this mysterious Observer? Why was he going to so
much trouble as to launch a systematic campaign? One thing was
certainhe was NOT a farmer!
All good newspaper reporters have two qualifications well developed;
they are able to recognize news valueshaving a nose for news, it is
calledand they are able to run down a story with the instinct of a
detective. G. P. Chipman had been a good reportera good police
reporter particularly. He had the detective's instinct and it did not
take him long to recognize that he was facing a situation which could
be uncovered only by detective work.
In the first place, he reasoned, the letters were too cleverly
writtenso cleverly, in fact, that they could be the product of a
professional writer only, most likely a Winnipeg man. This narrowed the
search at once. By process of elimination the list of possible
Observers was soon reduced to a few names. It was an easy matter to
verify the suspicion that the letters were paid for at advertising
rates and the question uppermost became: Who are the greatest
beneficiaries of these attacks?
The elevator interests, of course! was Chipman's answer to his own
question. He began to make progress in his investigations and before
long he became very much interested in an office which happened to be
located in the Merchant's Bank Building, Winnipeg. Here a certain
bright newspaper man with some farming experience had taken to business
as a Financial Agenttelephone, stenographer and all the rest of the
So sure was Chipman that he was on the right track in following this
clue that finally he shut the door of his private office and wrote up
the whole story of the deal which he expected to have been made
between certain elevator men and this clever editorial writer who knew
so much about money that he had opened up a Financial Agency. With the
whole exposure ready for publication and the photograph of the
suspect handy in a drawer of the desk, Chipman asked the Financial
Agent to call at the Guide office.
Thought you might like to look over that copy before we use it,
explained the editor casually when his visitor's pipe was going well.
He handed the write-up across his desk. I want to be fair and there
might be something
There decidedly was!a number of things, in fact! Not the least of
them was the utter surprise of the pseudo Financial Agent. He did not
attempt to deny the truth of the statements made for publication.
According to the story which he told the editor of the Guide,
it had been the original intention to have these letters to the press
signed by leading elevator men themselves; but when it was decided to
hire an expert press agent to mould public opinion in such a way as to
offset the onesidedness of the farmers' movement, none of the
elevator men cared to assume the publicity. The name, Observer, would
do just as well. A committee was organized to direct and supervise the
work of the press agent and the chairman of this committee conducted
the negotiations with the newspaper man who was to undertake the
preparation of the letters and other material.
By the terms of his contract the press agent was to be paid in equal
monthly instalments at the rate of $4,000 per year, with a contract for
two years. For this he was to write letters which would turn public
opinion against this Grain Growers' Grain Company, which was getting so
much of the farmers' grain, and minimize the growth of sentiment in
favor of government ownership of internal and terminal elevators. These
communications he was to have published in the various papers of
Winnipeg and the West. Such was the story.
The better to conceal the wires beneath this publicity campaign and
the identity of the writer, Mr. Observer opened his office as a
Financial Agency and became a subscriber to the Grain Growers' Guide
one paper, of course, which could not be approached for the purpose in
view. It was necessary, nevertheless, to clip and file the Guide
very carefully for reference; hence the subscription.
The space used by the correspondence was paid for at regular
advertising rates. The advertising bill each week amounted to about
$150. But one factor in the success of the plan had been
overlookedthe influence of the Guide. No sooner had the
official paper of the Grain Growers pointed out the situation to its
readers and suggested that papers which accepted material antagonistic
to the farmers' cause were no friends of the farmersno sooner was
this pointed out than letters began to arrive in batches at the offices
of all the papers which were publishing the Observer attacks. Most of
these letters cancelled subscriptions and so fast did they begin to
come that one after another the papers refused to publish any more
Observations, paid for or not.
For unknown reasons it was decided to call off the attempt to create
public opinion against government ownership of elevators and with the
letters aimed at the farmers' trading activities being refused
publication, the employers of Observer had no further work for him to
As they were still paying his interesting salary each month, they
offered him $1,500 to tear up his contract, he said. But with more than
a year and a half still to runover $6,000 coming to himMr.
Observer had a certain affection for that contract. Fifteen hundred
dollars? Pooh, pooh! He would settle forwell, say So-Much.
You're talking through your hat! scoffed his employers in effect.
It's a six-thousand-dollar hat! smiled Observer pleasantly.
Well, we won't pay any such lump sum as you say, virtually
declared his employers, not so pleasantly.
Just as you wish, gentlemen. I'll wait, then, and draw my
salary$333.33 1/3 every month, according to contract. I know you
don't want me to sue for it; because we'd have to air the whole thing
in the courts and there would be a lot of publicity. So we'll just let
her toddle along and no hard feelings.
He got his money.
The alleged attempt of these elevator men, whether with or without
the sanction of their associates, to make public opinion by means of
the Observer letters began in the fall of 1909. It lasted but a few
CHAPTER XIV. THE INTERNAL ELEVATOR
What constitutes a state? . . .
Men who their duties know,
But know their rights, and knowing, dare maintain.
Sir William Jones.
Ode after Alcaeus.
Now, about this Government Ownership of Elevators. The Grain Growers
had had it in mind right along. The elevators were the contact points
between the farmer and the marketing machinery; therefore if his
fingers got pinched it was here that he bled. Complaints of injustice
in the matter of weights, dockage, grades and prices colored the
conversation of farmers in many parts of the country and, rightly or
wrongly, many farmers were profoundly dissatisfied with existing
conditions at initial elevators. These elevators provided the only
avenue by which grain could be disposed of quickly if transportation
facilities were not fully adequate. It seemed to the farmers,
therefore, that the only way to avoid monopolistic abuses was for the
provincial governments to own and operate a system of internal storage
elevators and for the Dominion authorities to own and operate the
terminals. The elevators, declared the farmers, should be a public
utility and not in private hands.
This feeling first found definite expression in a request by the
Manitoba Grain Growers prior to the Manitoba elections in 1907. The
Manitoba Government declined to act on the request of the Grain Growers
alone, but called a conference of municipal reeves and others
interested. This conference was held in June and urgently requested the
Manitoba Government to acquire and operate a complete system of storage
elevators throughout the province, as asked for by the Grain Growers.
Nothing was done at the first session of the renewed government,
Meanwhile the Grain Growers were circularizing the three Prairie
Provinces on the need for a government system of elevators and at the
annual conventions of the organized farmers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan
and Alberta in 1908 strong endorsement of the idea was made. An
Inter-Provincial Council of Grain Growers' and Farmers' Associations
 had been created, and this body urged the several executives to
wait upon their respective governments and try to obtain definite
At the suggestion of Premier Roblin, of Manitoba, a conference of
the three premiers was arranged through the Secretary of the
Inter-Provincial Council. It was the hope of the farmers that this
might lead to uniform legislation, introducing government ownership of
the elevators, and that the three provincial governments would join in
an appeal to the Dominion Government for co-operation. In each province
the whole subject had been dealt with exhaustively in the text prepared
by the Grain Growersthe conditions making a government system of
elevators necessary, how it could be created and the practicability of
its operation, the question of financing and the beneficial results
that would follow. It was the idea of the farmers that the provinces
would purchase existing storage houses at a fair valuation, issuing
government bonds to finance the undertaking and build new elevators
The provincial Premiers met at Regina on May 4th, 1908, talked over
the matter, then sent for George Langley, M.P.P., one of the directors
of the Saskatchewan Grain Growers' Association who occupied a seat in
the Saskatchewan Legislature. They appointed Mr. Langley as a sort of
ambassador in their negotiations with the Grain Growers'
representatives, sending him to the Inter-Provincial Council to present
verbally a couple of alternative propositionsthat the Railways should
be asked to build loading elevators with storage bins or that the
management of the elevators should be taken away from the present
owners and profits limited while the farmers' organizations became
responsible for grades, weights, etc.
Back came the Grain Growers with a document which repeated their
former demands and amplified their argument. They claimed that they
were entitled to what they were asking if only because the farmers
formed the major part of the population and their demands could be
granted without placing any tax upon the remainder of the people. They
requested a conference with the three Premiers to go into the matter in
Not until November 4th, 1908, did this conference take place in
Regina. When they did get together the Premiers were not posted well
enough on details to promise anything more definite than that they
would consult their colleagues and make reply in due course.
It was the end of January, 1909, before the Inter-Provincial Council
had an official reply. The Premiers pointed to grave and complicated
questions which stood in the way of granting what the farmers were
asking. Constitutional difficulties, financial difficulties,
legislative difficultiesall were set forth in a lengthy and well
written memorandum. The British North America Act would have to be
amended to grant the provinces authority to create an absolute monopoly
without which success would not be assured. In short, there was such a
tangle of overlapping jurisdictions, public interest in trade and
commerce, federal rights, railway rights and so on that the Premiers
could not see their way clear at all in spite of their great desire to
help the farmers at all times.
The Grain Growers passed the document to their legal adviser and R.
A. Bonnar, K.C., gave them his opinion in writing. That opinion was
very complete, very authoritative, and poked so many holes in the
constitutional difficulties that the farmers could see their way much
more clearly than the Premiers, to whom they made dignified rejoinder.
They handed on the holes while they were at it in the hope that the
heads of the three Provincial Governments could take a peek through the
difficulties for themselves and see just how clear the way really was
The Provincial Premiers, however, took the step which logically
followed their reply to the farmers. Resolutions were introduced in the
Alberta and Manitoba Legislatures that His Excellency the
Governor-in-Council be memorialized in regard to the elevator question
and asked to provide government ownership and operation or to have the
necessary powers to deal with the matter conferred upon the provinces.
Thus things rode until December 14th, 1909, when the Committee on
Agriculture in the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly recommended the
appointment of a commission to make searching enquiry into the subject
of government control and operation of the internal elevators as asked
for by the Saskatchewan Grain Growers' Association.
Two days later, at the annual convention of the Manitoba Grain
Growers, Hon. George Coldwell announced for the Manitoba Government
that they had accepted the principle of establishing a line of internal
elevators as a public utility, owned by the public and operated for the
public. So unexpectedly did this good news come that the farmers were
amazed at their own success. They had fought for it long and earnestly
and victory meant a very great deal; but it had seemed still beyond
In the case of Manitoba it only remained now to get together and
thresh out the details. A strong committee was appointed to conduct
negotiations with the Government and there was prepared a memorandum of
the plan which the farmers recommended the Government to follow. This
was presented on January 5th, 1910.
The Government and the Grain Growers then each got ready a bill for
consideration by the Legislature. Many conferences took place. The
Government refused the farmers' bill and the farmers did not approve of
the Government's proposals. While leaving full financial control in the
hands of the Government, the Grain Growers demanded that the operation
of the elevators be undertaken by an absolutely independent commission
without any political affiliations whatsoever; it was provided also
that no officer of the Grain Growers could act on this commission. The
Government did not deem it wise to let control of the managing
commission out of its hands. So negotiations were broken off.
The Manitoba Government now prepared a new bill, but did not remove
the features to which the farmers were objecting. This bill was passed
and the Government voted $50,000 for initial expenses and $2,000,000
for acquiring elevators. Beyond a weak protest from the North-West
Grain Dealers' Association the elevator owners had not shown much
excitement over the situation. While the Manitoba Grain Growers were
not satisfied that the Government plan would work out successfully and
therefore refused to assume responsibility in connection with it, they
were ready nevertheless to lend their best co-operation to the Manitoba
Elevator Commission when it got into action.
In the Province of Saskatchewan an altogether different plan was
evolved in due course. The investigating commission, appointed February
28th, 1910, consisted of three well qualified menGeorge Langley,
M.P.P.; F. W. Green, Secretary of the Saskatchewan Grain Growers'
Association; Professor Robert Magill, of Dalhousie University, Nova
Scotia, the latter acting as chairman. The commission held sittings at
many points in Saskatchewan, taking evidence from a large number of
farmers, went to Winnipeg to meet representatives of elevator
companies, the Exchange and Government officials, and also visited
several American cities. Their final report, consisting of 188
typewritten pages, was handed to the Saskatchewan Government on October
In addition to the comprehensive scheme outlined by the Saskatchewan
Grain Growers many different suggestions were considered by the
commission, such as government ownership and operation, state aided
Farmers' Elevators, municipal elevators and various modifications of
these plans. All, however, were discarded by the commission in favor of
an experiment in co-operative ownership and management by the farmers
themselves, assisted financially by the Provincial Government.
The scheme presented by the executive of the Saskatchewan Grain
Growers' Association appeared to be unworkable because it overstepped
mere public ownership and operation of initial elevators to include
methods of sampling, grading before shipment, bank and government
loans, features outside the power of a provincial legislature. The
schemes of municipal and district elevators, while appealing to local
loyalty for patronage, did not secure the farmers' direct pecuniary
interest to make the elevators successful in the face of competition.
As to the Manitoba plan, the commission were unanimous in advising
against it in view of the financial risk and the disadvantages of
political influences which would tend to make themselves felt.
Instead, therefore, of a plan aiming at ownership of initial
elevators by the State and management by the Government of the day, the
commission recommended ownership and management by the growers of
grain. Such a co-operative scheme would aim equally well at removing
initial storage from the ownership of companies interested in grain
tradingwould recognize as promptly the feeling of injustice in the
minds of many farmerswould seek just as fully to create marketing
conditions which would give the farmer satisfaction and confidence.
While both the Manitoba scheme and the proposed co-operative scheme
involved financial aid by the State, the commission saw reason to
believe that with control and management in the hands of the farmers
themselves many of the risks and limitations of other plans would be
It is to be noted that in reporting upon general conditions in the
grain trade of Canada in 1910 the Saskatchewan Elevator Commission
pointed out the great change which had taken place since 1900. One
factor in this had been the construction of new transcontinental lines
and thousands of miles of branch railway lines together with a great
increase in car supply and a more efficient and cheaper system of
transportation. Again, the use of loading-platforms had introduced real
competition with the elevators, almost fifteen million bushels of the
1908-09 crop in Western Canada having been shipped direct by the
farmers. The development of co-operation among the farmers through the
Grain Growers' Associations had led to much advantageous legislation,
while Farmers' Elevators and Public Weigh Scales had had a salutary
effect at many shipping points. The organization of the Grain Growers'
Grain Company as a farmers' own selling agency likewise had exerted a
wide influence for good all over the West, enabling the farmers to
obtain first-hand information about existing methods of dealing in
grain. Finally, the protection afforded by the Manitoba Grain Act was
not to be questioned; for while it was impossible to draft any Act
which would prevent all the abuses alleged, it had been the means of
providing many weapons of defence for the farmer and unfamiliarity with
these provisions by individual farmers was scarcely to be blamed upon
the Act itself.
The improvement in conditions, compared with earlier years, was
recognized by most of the farmers appearing before the commission and
many of them had no personal complaint to make in regard to weights,
grades or prices. They were advocates of provincial ownership not so
much on their own behalf as upon behalf of settlers in newer districts.
The commission, therefore, while not saying that there were no cases of
sharp practice or no grounds for dissatisfaction, were impressed by the
fact that however powerless farmers had been in earlier days they were
now in a very different position. The strong feeling which many farmers
had against the line elevator companies was based upon experiences of
rank injustice and bitter recollections of the past; for this the
elevator people could blame nobody but themselves. But the factors
enumerated undoubtedly had improved the situation from the farmers'
standpoint and it only remained to strengthen these factors to give the
farmer complete control in the matter of initial storage.
The commission were unanimous in recommending co-operative
organization of the farmers as the probable solution of the situation
in Saskatchewan. They suggested the enactment of special legislation to
provide for the financing of the undertaking by the farmers themselves,
assisted by a government loan. That is, the farmers surrounding a point
where an elevator was needed would subscribe the total amount of
capital necessary to build it, paying fifteen per cent. in cash, the
crop acreage of the shareholders at that point to total not less than
2,000 acres for each 10,000 bushels capacity of the proposed elevator;
these conditions fulfilled, the government would advance the remaining
eighty-five per cent. of the subscribed capital in the form of a loan,
repayable in twenty equal annual instalments of principal and interest,
first mortgage security. The commission also suggested that the
responsibility of preliminary organization be thrown upon the farmers
themselves by appointing the executive of the Saskatchewan Grain
Growers' Association as provisional directors of the new grain handling
When the matter came before the Saskatchewan Legislature the annual
convention of the Saskatchewan Association was being held at Regina and
the farmers declared themselves ready to assume responsibility and go
ahead. A bill was introduced by the Government, embodying the
recommendations of the Commission, and the Act incorporating The
Saskatchewan Co-Operative Elevator Company, Limited, was assented to on
March 14th, 1911.
Because of the unusual financial arrangements with the Provincial
Government the capital stock was not set at a fixed amount but left
subject to change from time to time by the Government. In order to
protect the credit of the Province the Government thus was able to
control the amount of stock the company could issue and thereby the
amount of money the Government might be called upon to advance for the
construction or purchase of elevators. Shares were placed at $50 each,
available for farmers only, and a limit was set upon individual
It was provided that each local unit would have a local board of
management and appoint delegates to an annual meeting where a Central
Board of Management would be elected. The company was empowered not
only to own and operate elevators and buy and sell grain, but to own
and operate lumber yards, deal in coal and other commodities and do
all things incidental to the production, storing and marketing of
By June 16th, 1911, the Provisional Directors were able to call
the first annual meeting of the new organization, having fulfilled the
requirement of the Act that twenty-five locals be first organized,
and by July 6ththe date of the general meeting at Moose Jawan
additional twenty-one locals were ready. Thus they were able to start
with forty-six units, representing $405,050 capitalization with 8,101
shares held by 2,580 shareholders.
The newly-elected directors proceeded forthwith to let contracts
for forty new elevators, standard type of thirty and forty thousand
bushels capacity with cleaning machinery and special bins. Six existing
elevators were purchased.
The Grain Growers' Grain Company agreed to act as selling agents for
this new baby sister and wide-spread interest became manifest as the
Grain Growers took another step into commercial circles.
 See AppendixPar. 8.
 See AppendixPar. 12.
 See AppendixPar. 12.
CHAPTER XV. CONCERNING THE TERMINALS
I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the
lamp of experience. I know no way of judging the future but by the
With the establishment of co-operative elevators for the storing of
grain at interior points the farmers of Western Canada launched out
upon the greatest experiment in co-operation this continent has seen.
The success of these elevators, owned and controlled by the farmers
themselves, in all probability would evolve the final phase of internal
storage in connection with the Canadian grain fields.
Co-incident with their agitation for government ownership of
elevators at country points, the farmers were urging upon the federal
authorities the desirability of government control and operation of
terminal storage facilities. It was not enough that the Provincial
Governments of the Prairie Provinces should protect the farmers within
their boundaries; for the terminal storage of grain was a part of the
system and the farmers contended that corporation control of the
terminals by grain dealers was leading to abuses and manipulations of
the grain that were not in the best interests of the country.
Grateful as they were, therefore, for the efforts to improve early
conditions by legislation, it was the opinion of the Grain Growers that
these contraventions of the Grain Act would be prevented only by
acquisition of the terminals by the Dominion Government. Mere
legislation and supervision by the Government would not provide an
At the head of the lakes the grain passed out of the control of the
transportation companies into the hands of the grain dealers; it was
the only point in transit where it became subject to manipulation. With
the exception of those owned by the C. P. R., the terminal elevators
were operated by dealers, largely controlled by United States concerns
and managed by experts from across the line. It was frequently charged
that terminal operators forgot that they ought to be warehousemen
solely and sought profits outside those of legitimate elevation and
storage charges, although these authorized charges paid ample return on
capital investment. The farmers wanted this temptation of handling and
mixing grain at the terminals removed so that terminal operators could
not tamper with the grain while it was in their custody. The claims of
the Grain Growers that mixing was going on at Fort William and Port
Arthur were based upon the report of the Royal Grain Commission which
had investigated the grain trade in 1906-7.
The first definite step taken to lay these matters before the
Dominion Government was in the winter of 1908 after the formation of
the Inter-Provincial Council of Grain Growers' and Farmers'
Associations. At a meeting of these representatives of all the
organized farmers it was decided to send delegates to Ottawa. When
these gentlemen reached their destination in May, 1909, they found
themselves face to face with a large and active group of grain men,
railway officials and bankers who had gathered to take a hand in the
interview with Sir Richard Cartwright, then Minister of Trade and
Commerce. Beyond some concessions regarding special binning of grain,
nothing came of this trip apparently, although the Western farmers were
supported strongly by the Dominion Millers' Association.
A second memorandum was presented early in 1910 and the Grain
Growers were granted a very respectful hearing by the Government; for,
while the organized farmers represented but part of the farming
constituency in the West, they had the sympathy of the entire farming
community behind them in these requests. They went home, however,
feeling the need of concentrating their energies on organization if
they were to get actual action from politicians.
They had not much more than got home safely before something
happened which proved their assertions that all was not as it should be
down on the lake-front. Mr. C. C. Castle, Warehouse Commissioner, one
day held in his hand some official reports from the Inspection
Department concerning certain elevator concerns and compared the
figures with the returns made to the authorities by these concerns
themselves. He shook his head at the discrepancies and started an
investigation. There were three companies involved and after full
evidence was taken legally these three companies were prosecuted for
returning untrue statements and in the Police Court at Winnipeg they
were fined a total of $5,550 by the Magistrate.
The next thing was the drafting of a Grain Bill which aimed to
improve certain matters. It was considered by the Senate and passed. It
reached the House of Commons and Hon. Frank Oliver took it by the
halter and led it about. Before anything could happen to it, however,
and the judges get a chance to study its good and bad points, July
(1911) came along and Parliament dissolved like a lump of sugar dropped
into a cup of tea and in the hub-bubbles of a general election
everything was in statu quo, as they say. And when the race was
over and the Party Nags back in their stalls, lo! new tenants were
taking their turn at sliding around on the polished Treasury Benches
and having a sun bath!
The new Minister of Trade and Commerce was Hon. George E. Foster. He
looked over the Grain Bill, passed his hand along its withers and
patted it on the rump. Then he sat down and made a copy of it,
idealizing it by injecting a few betterments, then trotted it out for
inspection with tail and mane plaited and bells on its patent-leather
surcingle. He did not claim to be its real fatheronly its
foster-father. He introduced it to the House with a very lucid review
of the whole agitation for improvement in the Grain and Inspection Acts
since Johnny Millar, of Indian Head, Saskatchewan, handed in the
Royal Grain Commission report in 1907.
The new Government proposed to grant government control of terminal
elevators only on a limited and experimental scale. They wanted to test
out the principle by lease or construction of two or three terminals at
the head of the lakes before undertaking the financial responsibility
of handling the entire terminal system. Heretofore there had been
government supervision merely; but now for an experiment there would be
government operation as well while the management of the remaining
terminals would have to be satisfactory to the Government.
The demand of the West is that the grain should not be manipulated
at the terminals, declared Mr. Foster. It does not matter a pin as to
how that is brought about so that the thing itself is accomplished.
The new bill provided for sample markets and the farmers did not
like this unless the Government acquired the terminals as had been
requested. Owing to the grain blockade, due to car shortage, feeling
was running high in the West and the farmers eyed the new legislation
closely. They came upon a clause which startled them and in the row
that followed it looked at one time as if the new Bill would be led to
the boneyard and killed.
One of the proposals of the Government was the formation of a Board
of Grain Commissioners with wide discretionary powers. They would be
made responsible for the proper conduct of the entire grain trade and
deal with all matters pertaining thereto. They were to have the
absolute say-so in regard to car distribution and there was one clause
that threatened this protection for which the Western farmers had
fought so hard in earlier days.
At once consternation spread among the Grain Growers, their
apprehensions based upon bitter experience. They protested vehemently.
Letters, petitions and resolutions slid all over the official
Government desks and delegations followed to Ottawa. Not the organized
grain growers alone, but the whole Western farming element was up in
Nevertheless, the new Grain Bill passed the House of Commons and
browsed over to the Senate.
It was the farmers' last chance to stop it. R. McKenzie and J. S.
Wood, of the Manitoba Grain Growers; J. A. Maharg and F. W. Green, of
the Saskatchewan Grain Growers, and E. J. Fream, of the United Farmers
of Albertathese practical men figuratively took off their coats and
waded in when they got in conference with Senate members. They
preferred to see the whole bill killed unless the objectionable clause
regarding car distribution were struck out; they saw the old-time
elevator abuses again becoming possible and quite nullifying the many
good features which the new legislation possessed.
The final upshot was that somewhat unexpectedly Hon. Senator
Lougheed, leader in the Upper House, withdrew the offending clause on
behalf of the Government, although the Government felt that the farmers
were unduly excited.
The new Board of Grain Commissioners was appointed without delay and
consisted of three men who understood Western conditionsW. D.
Staples, of Treherne, Manitoba; Frank E. Gibbs, of Fort William, and
Dr. Robert Magill, now Secretary of the Winnipeg Grain Exchange. Dr.
Magill was made Chief Grain Commissioner, for he had rendered excellent
services in the past and commanded the respect of the entire West.
The Board was not long in reaching the conclusion that if grain
dealing companies were to be eliminated from the business of owning and
operating terminal elevators, outright purchase and breaking of leases
would be necessary. The companies refused to lease to the Government
voluntarily on any terms which the Board could recommend. Some would
not lease on any terms whatever, claiming that to lease their terminals
would dislocate their whole system of interior elevators, involving a
loss of capital which had been invested legitimately. Apart from this,
the Board had its hands so full with other important things that
expropriation and all that it involved would claim their whole time and
energy to the neglect of other urgent matters.
Accordingly, the Grain Commissioners recommended that the Government
meet the immediate need of increased terminal facilities at the head of
the lakes by building a three-million-bushel elevator, thoroughly
equipped for storing, cleaning, drying and handling grain and with
provision for future extensions to a capacity of thirty million
bushels. They also approved of the Grain Growers' Grain Company leasing
one of the C. P. R. elevators. In this way both the Board and the Grain
Growers would gain first-hand knowledge of terminal elevator
While formulating a policy for terminal elevators the Grain
Commissioners considered the need for terminal storage in the interior
as well as at the lakefront. The increase in the area of the grain
fields, particularly in Alberta, was straining the transportation
facilities to the limit and the construction of the Grand Trunk Pacific
promised to open up still more acreage. Railway rolling stock, railway
yard accommodations at Winnipeg and Fort William and elevator storage
were not keeping pace with the annual volume of new grain. The
Government Inspection Department was up to its eyes in grain, working
night and day during the rush season, while lake and ocean tonnage
likewise were inadequate. Even the eleven million bushels of extra
storage capacity being built at the lake at the time the Board was
considering the situation would soon fill and overflow. Congestion at
eastern transfer houses or terminal points was threatening, water
freight rates were up and the export market disturbed and there was no
reserve of storage capacity in Western Canada to meet emergencies. In a
wet season the drying plants at Fort William and Port Arthur were far
from adequate. Delayed inspection returns and terminal outturns, due to
the recurring car shortage, prevented the farmers from financing and
widened the spread between street and track prices as the close of
Reviewing all this, the Grain Commissioners came to the conclusion
that it was time to consider seriously the erection of Government
terminal facilities nearer the grain fields. Especially in Alberta was
the need great for inspection and terminal storage to be nearer the
producer. It would relieve congestion, benefit the whole grain trade
and provide for the future possibility of alternate shipping routes via
Hudson Bay or the Panama Canal.
It was true that the Royal Grain Commission of 1906-7 had raised
objections to interior terminals and inspection, such as the extra
expense of handling, the extra loss to the grain in handling and
re-handling, the possibility of the railways solving the car shortage
problem, the difficulty of getting shippers to send their grain to such
elevators and so forth. But the Board considered that, in view of other
possible routes than the Eastern, these objections were not strong
enough to balance the benefits. Accordingly they recommended the
Government to take action, the elevators to be regarded as public
terminals in which mixing of grades would be forbidden.
While the farmers in all three Prairie Provinces were busy with
these vital matters, the Grain Growers' Grain Company meanwhile was
wading along through all the difficult seasons of car shortage,
expanding its usefulness and trying its best to give the maximum of
service the while it was reaching out into the export field in an
Then, in 1911, a situation arose unexpectedly that caused turmoil
among the officers of the pioneer company and led to considerable
anxiety among the Grain Growers all over the West. For, through an
excess of zeal upon the part of an employee, the Grain Growers' Grain
Company suddenly found itself dragged into the maelstrom of The Pit.
It was accused of trying to corner the oat market and was forced to
fight for very life.
So that at last it looked indeed as if Chance had delivered the
farmers into the hands of those who preferred to see them eliminated
altogether from the market.
CHAPTER XVI. THE GRIP OF THE PIT
Now, infidel, I have thee on the hip!
Merchant of Venice.
The visitors' gallery is an excellent vantage point from which to
view the trading floor of the Exchange. It runs the full width of the
south wall. The chairs entrenched behind the rail have acquired a
slippery polish from the shiftings of countless occupants just as the
wall behind has known the restless backs of onlookers who have stood
for hours at a stretch.
It is here that the curious foregathergood people from every walk
of life except the grain business. The tourist who is just passing
through your beautiful city and has heard that Winnipeg has the
largest primary wheat market in the worldthe tourist drops in to see
the sights. Friend Husband is there, pretending to be very bored by
these things while fulfilling his promise to take Friend Wife some day
when there's something doing. Young girls who only know that bulls
hate anything red and that bears hug people to deaththey are there,
thrilled by the prospect of what they are about to witness with but a
very vague idea of what it will be. A dear old lady from the quiet
eddies of some sheltered spot has been brought in by the rest of her
party to see goin's on of which she does not approve because gambling
is a well-known sin. She is somewhat reassured by noting a few seats
away a man who wears the garb of a clergyman; presently he will take
notes for his forthcoming sermon on The Propinquity of Temptation and
Its Relation to the Christian Life. The two young women who whisper
together in the corner have been reading stockmarket stories in the
magazines and they are wondering which of the traders, assembling on
the floor below, will have his coat and collar torn off and which will
break down and give vent to those big, dry man-sobs when his fortune
Not the least of the sights at the Grain Exchange is the Visitors'
Two tanned farmers are discussing quotations and general conditions
in a matter-of-fact way. War demands, the unfavorable United States
Government report and rumors of black rust are making for a bullish
condition. Cables are up and the market promises to be wild this
morning. The gong will go in five minutes.
The Pit is out in the middle of the floor. There is an octagonal
platform, raised a couple of feet from the floor level. In the centre
of this platform three wide steps descend to floor level again; so that
the traders standing on the different steps are able to see over one
another's heads and note each other's bids. On the west side of the Pit
is an elevated, built-in desk like those seen in court-rooms, somewhat
resembling an old-fashioned pulpit; here three men sit throughout the
session. One keeps his fingers on the switch-box which operates the big
clock on the north wall where the fluctuations of the trading are
flashed on a frosted dial in red-light figures. At his left sits a
second man whose duty it is to record the bidding on an official form
for the purpose. At the right is a telegraph operator who sends the
record of the trading as it occurs to other big ExchangesMinneapolis,
Chicago, New York, etc.
The telegraphic report registers in several instruments attached to
the big blackboard that occupies the entire north wall. Operators with
chalk and chalk-brush in hand move about the platform at the base of
this blackboard, catching the quotations from the clicking instruments
and altering the figures on the board to keep pace with the changing
information. A glance at this great blackboard will furnish the latest
quotations on wheat, oats, barley, flax, corn, etc., the world over.
Ranged along the entire east wall are the clacking instruments of
the various telegraph companies for the use of the brokers and firms
trading on the Winnipeg Exchange. Telephone booths at the north, seats
for friends of members on the west side, weather maps, etc., beneath
the gallerythese complete the equipment of the big chamber.
The group about the Pit, waiting for the market to open, grows
rapidly as 9.30 approaches. Members of the Exchange saunter in from the
smoking-room, swap good-natured banter or confer earnestly with their
representatives on the floor. In response to the megaphoned bellow of a
call boy, individuals hurry to the telephone booths. Messengers shove
about, looking for certain brokers. The market is very unsteady; it may
go up or down. The men are clustering about the Pit now; most of them
are in their shirt-sleeves and they are on tip-toe like sprinters who
wait for the starter's pistol. Some of them have instructions to dump
wheat on the market; some have been told to buy. Hundreds of thousands
of bushels will change hands in the first few minutes. The market may
go up or it may go
Bang goes the gong! They're off! Above the red abbreviation, OCT.,
at the bottom of the big clock the blood-red figure 5 indicates the
opening of the market at $1.45 even. With a mad swirl the trading
begins in a roar of voices. A small forest of arms waves wildly above
jostling bodies. Traders dive for each other, clutch each other and
watch the clock. The red figure 5 has gone out and 7/8 has in turn
vanished in favor of 5/81/23/84(?) Instead of going up, she's
falling fast. Before the market closes the price may rebound to $1.55.
Somebody will make a clean-up to-day and many speculators will
disappear; for margins are being wiped out every minute.
To the Gallery it is a pandemonium of noise, unintelligible in the
volume of it that beats against the void of the high chamber. Only one
shrill voice flings up out of the roar:
Sell fifty Oc, sev'-eights! He offers 50,000 bushels of wheat for
October delivery at $1.43 7/8 per bushel. It's that fellow down there
with the blazing red tie half way up his collar. He hits out with both
hands at the air as he yells. A surge of buyers overwhelms him. They
scribble notes upon their sales cards and go at it again.
Down there in the mêlée those men are thinking fast. With every
flash of the clock the situation changes for many of them. Some pause,
watching, listening; others who have been quiet till now suddenly break
in with a bellow, seemingly on the point of punching the noses of the
men with whom they are doing business. Lightning calculation;
instantaneous decisions! Use your discretion many of them have been
cautioned by their firms and they are using it. A moment's hesitation
may cost a thousand dollars. Trading in the Pit is no child's play;
rather is it a severe strain even upon those who know every trick,
every firm and the character of its dealings, every trader and his
individuality, his particular methodswho know every sign and its
meaning, who can read the coming shout by the first movement of the
lips. And always, in and out, are darting the telegraph messenger boys
with yellow slips that cause upheavals.
Why don't they take their time and do their trading more quietly
and systematically? ventures Friend Wife up in the gallery.
And lose a cent a bushel while they're turning around, eh? laughs
Friend Husband. On a hundred thousand bushels that'd only be a
thousand dollars. Of course that's mere car-fare!
The dear old lady from the quiet eddies of Shelterville is shaking
her head in disapprobation and communing with herself upon the
iniquities of gambling.
My, oh my! What won't men do for money! Jt-jt! Just look at 'em!
Fightin' like that for money they ain't earnt! An' that nice lookin'
young feller with the intelligent gold specs!Dear me, it's enough to
make a body sad!
She could not know that but comparatively few of the traders below
were representatives of brokerage firms which were trading on margins
for speculating clientsthat most of the traders were negotiating
legitimate deals in futures for firms who actually had the grain for
sale, for exporters who would take delivery of the actual wheat for
shipment, for milling companies who would grind it into actual flour.
Because trading for delivery in future months affords opportunity
for speculation, it is not to be condemned necessarily. It is the
balance wheel which steadies the entire grain business. Even the
speculating element is not without its uses at times and the layman who
ventures to condemn This or That out of hand will do well to make sure
he understands what he is talking about; for the business of the grain
dealer is so subject to varying conditions and so involved in its
methods that it is one of the most difficult to be found in the
Trading in futures finds birth in the very natural disinclination of
Mr. Baker to buy his flour by the warehouseful. He does not want to
provide storage for a year's supply, even if he could stand such a
large bite out of his capital without losing his balance. So while the
bakery man is anxious to order his flour in large quantities for future
use, he is equally anxious to have it delivered only as he needs it,
paying for it only as it reaches himsay, every three months.
Before contracting for the delivery of the flour on this basis Mr.
Miller must look to his wheat supply on a similar basis of So-Much
every So-Often and he, too, has an eye on storage and, like his friend
the baker, he needs the dough, as they say on the street, and he does
not want to part with any more hard-working money than he can help.
Accordingly he looks around for somebody who has wheat for sale and
will sell it right now at a fixed price but defer delivery and payment
to a future date. With the price of his wheat thus nailed down, Mr.
Miller can set the future price on his flour to his customers, taking
delivery and paying for the wheat as he requires it for filling his
In the meantime where is the wheat? Out near the fields where it was
grown, in country elevators perhaps, ready for transportation to market
as the law of supply and demand dictates instead of the whole crop
being dumped at once and smothering prices below the cost of
production. Or perhaps it is in store at the terminal where Mr.
Exporter can handle it. It will be seen that the mutual arrangement to
buy and sell for future delivery simplifies matters for everybody in
the grain trade.
The manner in which the legitimate trader in futures protects
himself from price fluctuation is easily understood. While a deal in
cash wheat would refer to a definite shipment as shown by warehouse
receipts, a deal for future delivery is merely an obligation involving
a given quantity of grain at a given time at a given price. Being
merely a contract and not an actual shipment, the seller does not
require to produce the grain immediately nor is the buyer required to
hand over the purchase price when the trade is made. Thus it is
possible to buy a thousand bushels to-day for October payment and sell
a thousand bushels to-morrow for October delivery, cancelling the
obligation. The trade can be balanced at any time before October 1st.
Again, a thousand bushels of October wheat may be bought (or sold)
to-day and the future switched to May 1st by the sale (or purchase) of
a thousand bushels for May delivery.
Take the man with the blazing red tie half way up his collar, the
man who this morning offered to sell fifty thousand bushels for October
delivery at $1.43 7/8. Suppose that he represents a company with a line
of elevators at country points. To his office at Winnipeg has come word
from country representatives that fifty thousand bushels have been
purchased for the company. At once he enters the Pit and sells fifty
thousand bushels for delivery at a future date, thereby hedging the
cash purchase out in the country. Once this future of fifty thousand is
sold the company no longer is interested in market prices so far as
this grain is concerned. If the market goes up, their cash grain is
that much more valuable, offsetting the loss of an equal amount on the
future delivery; if the price goes down, what is lost on the cash wheat
will be gained on the future. So that the difference between the price
paid for the grain at the country elevators and the price at which they
sold the hedge is the only thing which need concern the grain company
and it is here they must look for expenses and profits. This method of
hedging enables a grain company to make purchases in the country on
much smaller margins than was possible in the early days when the
marketing machinery was less completely organized. It eliminates to the
greatest extent the necessity of speculating to cover risks.
The speculator's opportunity comes in connection with the
fluctuations of the market in deliveries. He merely bets that prices
will go up or down, as the case may be. He is not dealing in actual
wheat but in margins. He buys to-day through his broker, who has a seat
on the Exchange, and deposits enough money to cover a fluctuation of
say ten cents per bushel. If October wheat to-day is quoted at $1.45
his deposit will keep his purchase in good standing until the price has
dropped to $1.35. He must put up a further deposit then or lose the
amount he has risked already, the broker selling out his holding. If
the speculator is on the right side of the marketif he has guessed
that it will go up and it does go uphe can sell and pocket a profit
of so-many-cents per bushel, according to the number of points the
price has risen. If he has bet that the market will go down the
situation merely is reversed.
The machinery for handling the huge volume of business transactions
in a grain exchange must be complete and smooth running to the last
detail, so designed that every contingency which may arise will be
under control. For simplicity and efficiency in this connection the
Winnipeg Grain Exchange occupies a unique position among the great
exchanges of the American continent; in fact, it is a matter for wonder
that its methods have not been copied elsewhere.
The Winnipeg Grain and Produce Exchange Clearing Association is a
separate organization within the Exchange and to it belong all the
Exchange members who deal largely in futures. Each day the market
closes at 1.15 p.m. By two o'clock every firm trading on the floor must
hand in a report sheet, showing every deal made that day by the
firmthe quantity of wheat bought or sold, the firm with whom the
trade was made, the price, etc. If on totalling the day's transactions
it is found that they entail a loss, the firm must hand over a cheque
to the Clearing House to cover the loss; if a gain in price is totalled
the Clearing House will issue a cheque for it to the firm so gaining.
Thus, if Jones &Brown have bought wheat at $1.39 and the market closes
at $1.35 they lose four cents per bushel on their purchase and must
settle the difference with the Clearing House. All differences between
buyers and sellers must be settled each day and if the volume of trades
has been heavy, the Clearing House staff work on their booksall
night, if necessaryuntil everything has been cleared for next day's
business. The firm which loses to-day may gain by to-morrow's trades,
maintaining good average business health. Any private trading which may
take place after official trading hours is known as curb trading.
The rules of the Clearing House are very strict. Any firm which
fails to report by two o'clock is fined. The Clearing House assumes
responsibility for all purchases and sales and, being actually liable,
keeps close tab on every firm. Each firm has a certain credit on the
books of the Clearing House, allotted impartially, according to its
standing, and this credit forms the fixed basis of that firm's
dealings. If its activities exhaust the line of credit, the Clearing
House calls for original margins at oncea deposit of so-many cents
per bushel for every bushel involved and for every point which the
market drops. The amount per bushel called for is entirely at the
discretion of the Clearing House authorities and if the quantity of
grain reaches dangerous proportions the deposit required may be set so
high that it becomes practically equivalent to cash purchase. To
corner the market under these conditions would require unlimited
credit with the Clearing House.
When Jones &Brown are called for deposit margins they drop
everything and obey. They have just fifteen minutes to reach the bank
with that cheque, have it marked and rushed to the Clearing House. If
they fail to arrive with it the Manager of the Clearing House will step
into their office and if there were any hemming and hawing Jones
&Brown would be reported at once to the Secretary of the Exchange who
would call a hurry-up meeting of the Exchange Council and Messrs. Jones
&Brown would find themselves posted and all trades with them forbidden.
All clerical errors in regard to trades are checked up by the
Clearing House and fines paid in for mistakes. Only a nominal charge is
made for its servicesenough to pay overhead expensesbut the fines
have enabled the Clearing House to accumulate a large Reserve Fund
which gives it financial stability to provide for all responsibilities
should occasion arise through failure of any firm. All futures which
have not been cancelled before delivery date are negotiated through the
Clearing House and with its assistance the grain can be placed just
where it should go and tremendous quantities of it are handled without
a hitch and with the utmost despatch.
Excitement in the Pit is not always over wheat. It may be oats. It
was Canadian Western Oats which became the storm centre in 1911 when
the Grain Growers got into difficulty with the bears. Traders who
attempt to boost prices are known as bulls; those who are interested
in depressing the market are bears. A trader may be a bear to-day and
a bull to-morrow; thus the opposing groups are constantly changing in
make-up and the firm which was a chief opponent in yesterday's trading
may be lined up alongside the day following, fighting with instead of
against. It is all in the day's business and the strenuous competition
on the floor, into which the uninitiated visitor reads all manner of
animosity and open anger, is a very misleading barometer to the actual
good feeling which prevails.
In recording what now took place in the Pit in connection with the
farmers' commission agency it will be well to remember that the rest of
the traders would have acted in the same way toward any firm which was
fool enough to leave the opening for attack. It may be that as the
thing developed some of those who were specially interested in the
downfall of the farmers' organization seized the opportunity to ride
the situation beyond the pale of business ethics and in their eagerness
to be in at the death revealed special vindictiveness. But in view of
the long struggle with this element it was only what the Grain Growers
should have expected when they ran their heads deliberately into the
The situation was this: Shortly after New Year's the export demand
for Canadian Western Oats became heavy and it looked as if in Great
Britain and all over Europe, where the oat crop had been small, there
would continue to be a shortage of oats. In spite of this situation,
however, no sooner was the proposed reciprocity agreement reached
between the Canadian and United States governments of the day, on
January 26th, than market prices began to go down.
The then Manager of the Grain Growers' Grain Company came to the
conclusion that this price lowering was a local condition and that the
export market for oats was too strong to justify it or sustain it.
I'll just step into the market and buy some oats, said he. Later
on I'll sell for export at a satisfactory figure. Accordingly, one
fine morning he went into the Pit and began to buy.
The Manager's motive in attempting to sustain the market may have
been of the best; but it was the first time that such methods had been
attempted by the Grain Growersmethods which were not at all in
keeping with the avowed principles of the Company. The Board of Control
had every confidence in their Manager and, although he was merely a
salaried employee and not an executive officer, he had been given a
pretty free hand in the conduct of the Company's operations. Apparently
it did not occur to him that he should consult the Board before
entering the market on a speculative basis. Had the Board known what he
was about to do they would have vetoed it; but when they did discover
what was afoot it was too late to prevent the situation. It developed
The Grain Growers are up to the neck in May oats, was the whisper
which passed about among the other traders. That was all that was
Sell May oats! Sell May oats!
On every side of the Pit they were being offered by thousands of
bushelsfivetwenty-fivefifty thousand! The idea was to load up the
Grain Growers' Grain Company to the point where their line of credit
with the Clearing House would become exhausted, after which every
bushel would require a marginal deposit. Then when the Company could
carry no further burden the Clearing House would be forced to dump back
the oats onto the market, breaking it several cents per bushel. At this
lower price the traders who had obligated themselves to make these big
deliveries would buy back the necessary supply of oats at a profit and
everything would resume the even tenor of its wayexcept the Grain
Growers, of course. Their serviette would be folded. Their chair would
be pushed back from the table! They would be through!
Up until now all the troubles of the farmers in marketing their own
grain may be said to have come from sources outside themselves; but in
the present instance they had nobody to blame but themselves for the
predicament. It arose at a time, too, when the other grain dealers were
beginning to recognize the farmers as a force in the grain marketa
force which had come to stay. It was unfortunate, therefore, that just
as they were beginning to acquire a standing as a solid and sensible
business concern, the Grain Growers' Grain Company should find
themselves driven into a corner, their backs to the wall, the focus of
pointing fingers and gleeful grins.
The fact that a salaried employee, not an officer of the Company,
had acted on his own initiative without the consent of the directors
was no excuse for a reliable business concern to tender as such. The
first question flung back at them naturally would be: Then your 'Board
of Control' doesn't control, eh? For although the Board of Control did
not know what their Manager was doing until it was too late to prevent
it, they should have known. That is what they were there forto
protect the shareholders from managerial mistakes.
However, there they were. The only thing they could do was to fight
it out to a finish in the Pit and, if they survived, to see that no
similar mistakes occurred in the future.
All sorts of rumors were flying about the corridors of the Exchange,
gathering momentum as they passed from lip to lip, swelling with the
heat of the excitement until it was a general guess that the Grain
Growers must be loaded with anywhere between five and eight million
bushels of oats more than they had been able to sell.
It was only a guess, though, and a wild one. Many traders would have
given a good round sum to know exactly how the farmers' company stood
on the books of the Clearing House. Only the Clearing House and the
Company itself knew the true figures and the Clearing House officials
were men of the highest integrity who dare not be approached for secret
Thanks to the splendid export connection which had been built up in
the Old Country and to the equally solid financial relations with the
Home Bank, the farmers' agency was selling oats for export very
rapidly. It began to look as if they would get out from under the
threatening avalanche without much loss, if any.
The Company's old-time enemies apparently saw an opportunity to
undermine its credit at this crisis; for attacks began to appear in
printaccusations of speculation, of official negligence and so forth.
If the Grain Growers could be prevented from paying for the large
quantity of oats, delivery of which they would have to take on May 1st
to complete the export sales made during the winterif they could be
made to fail in filling these export orders when navigation opened,
they would be smashed.
But in attacking the credit of the Grain Growers, these opponents
overlooked the rapid increase in paid-up capital and the ability of the
farmers to secure money outside of Winnipeg. It was not being forgotten
by the Grain Growers that upon the first day of May there would be
delivered to them over 2,200,000 bushels of oats.
When the day arrived, therefore, the money was on hand to meet every
contingency. Every bushel was paid for immediately. Within a few weeks
half of the quantity was riding the waves of the Atlantic, bound for
the Old Country to fill part of the sales already made there.
Before long some of the grain companies which had sold the oats were
trying to buy them back. Had the farmers' company been a speculating
firm they might have turned upon the market and cornered the oats with
a vengeance. It was one of those rare occasions when a corner could
have been operated successfully to a golden, no-quarter finish; for the
export demand was sustained and the local market could have been made
to pay through the nose for its fun.
CHAPTER XVII. NEW FURROWS
Fishes, beasts and fowls are to eat each other, for they have no
justice; but to men is given justice, which is for the best.Hesiod.
The situation was changing indeed for the Grain Growers in Western
Canada. In spite of all opposition the farmers had made themselves a
factor in the grain trade and had demonstrated their ability to conduct
their affairs on sound business principles. Co-operative marketing of
grain no longer was an untried idea, advocated by a small group of
enthusiasts. The manner in which the farmers' pioneer trading agency
had weathered the stormy conditions of its passage from the beginning
and the dignified stand of its directorsthese gradually were earning
status in the solid circles of the business world.
Out in the country also things were different. Those farmers who at
first had been most certain that the trading venture would crumble away
like so many other organized business efforts of farmers in the past,
now were ready to admit their errorto admit that a farmers' business
organization, managed by farmers, could succeed in such ample measure
that its future as a going concern was assured. Instead of hovering on
the outskirts of its activities, like small boys surrounding a giant
fire-cracker on Victoria Daywaiting for the loud bang so freely
predictedthese gentlemen were beginning to look upon it as a safe
The success of the Grain Growers' Grain Company was an argument for
co-operation which could not be overlooked and the co-operative spirit
spread rapidly among the farmers in many districts.
It will be remembered that the promoters of the grain company had
intended originally to operate under a Dominion charter but were
compelled by circumstances to content themselves with provincial
powers. The farmers now were finding themselves too restricted and
application was made for a new charter which would facilitate the
transaction of business in other provinces than Manitoba. Special
powers were asked for and by special Act of Parliament the charter was
granted in 1911 in the face of considerable opposition at Ottawa from
those whom the farmers regarded as representing the Canadian
Manufacturers' Association and the Retail Merchants' Association.
For the trend of the organized farmers was quite apparent. No secret
had been made of the views entertained by the Grain Growers regarding
co-operation. To familiarize every member of the various organizations
with the history of co-operative achievements in other countries had
been the object of many articles in the Grain Growers' Guide and
much speech-making from time to time. The possibility of purchasing
farm supplies co-operatively in addition to co-operative marketing of
grain was being urged convincingly. And during the long winter evenings
when the farmer shoved another stick into the stove it was natural for
him to ask himself questions while he stood in front of it and let the
paring from another Ontario apple dangle into the ash-pan.
The fellow who made that stove paid a profit to the Iron an' Steel
Trust who supplied the raw iron ore, considered he. Then he turned
around an' added a profit of his own before he let the wholesaler have
it. Then the wholesaler chalked up more profit before he shipped it
along to Joe Green over in town an' Joe just naturally had to soak me
something before I got her aboard for home. That's profits on the
profits! It's a hot proposition an' it's my money that goes up the
When he added further profits which he figured might be due to
agreements between supposed competitors in prices, the Grain Grower was
quite ready to believe that he had paid about twice as much for that
stove as the thing would cost him legitimately if he dealt with the
maker direct. Here was the High Cost of Living that everybody was
talking about. The remedy? The same chance as the Other Fellow for the
farmer to use the resources of Nature and, by co-operation, the
reduction to a minimum of production and distribution cost.
I've done it with my grain. Why can't I do it with what I need to
buy? That was what the Grain Grower was asking himself. Why must I
feed and clothe and buy the smokes for so many of these middlemen?
So when the directors of the grain-trading company came before him
with the suggestion of buying a timber limit in British Columbia in
order to put in their own saw-mills eventually to supply building
materials on the prairie, the Grain Grower slapped his leg and said:
Good boy! An' say, what about a coal mine, too?
That was the beginning of great developments for the organized
farmers of Western Canada. It was the beginning of new furrowsthe
opening up of new vistas of emancipation, as the farmer saw it. And as
the furrows lengthened and multiplied they were destined to cause much
heart-burning and antagonism in new directions.
The timber limit which the Grain Growers' Grain Company purchased
was estimated to contain two hundred and twenty-two million feet of
lumber. A Co-Operative Department was opened with the manufacture and
sale of more than 130 carloads of flour at a saving to the farmer of
fifty cents per cwt, even this small beginning registering a drop in
milling company prices. Next they got in touch with the Ontario Fruit
Growers' Association and sold over 4,000 bbls. of apples to Western
farmers at the Eastern growers' carload-lot price, plus freight, plus a
commission of ten cents per barrel. More than one hundred carloads of
coal were handled in one month and the farmers then got after the
lumber manufacturers for lumber by the carload at a saving of several
dollars per thousand feet.
Still experimenting, the Grain Growers' Grain Company added to the
list of commodities in 1912-13fence posts, woven fence wire, barbed
wire and binder twine. Followed other staplescement, plaster, sash
and doors, hardware and other builders' supplies; sheet metal roofing
and siding, shingles, curbing, culverts, portable granaries, etc.; oil,
salt and other miscellaneous supplies; finally, in 1914-15, farm
machinery of all kinds, scales, cream separators, sewing machines and
even typewriters. Of binder twine alone nearly seven million pounds was
handled during this season. Thus did co-operative purchasing by the
farmers pass from experiment to a permanent place in their activities.
Expansion was taking place in other directions also. In 1912 the
Company leased from the Canadian Pacific Railway a terminal elevator at
Fort William, capacity 2,500,000 bushels. A small cleaning elevator was
acquired at the same place and, with an eye to possible developments at
the Pacific Coast, a controlling interest in a small terminal elevator
in British Columbia was purchased. At Port Arthur, on a
six-hundred-foot lake frontage, a new elevator has just been built with
a storage capacity of 600,000 bushels.
So much for terminal facilities of this farmers' pioneer trading
organization. Now, what about the country elevators for government
control of which the farmers had campaigned so vigorously in the three
Prairie Provinces? As we have seen, the problem had been handled in
Saskatchewan along very different lines to the method adopted in
Manitoba. In Manitoba the 374 elevators, owned by the Provincial
Government and operated by the Provincial Elevator Commission, showed a
loss. It was even hinted in some quarters that the Manitoba Government
had no intention in the first place of operating at anything but a
loss. Whether or not there was any ground for these irreverent
suspicions, the fact remained that the Government elevator system in
Manitoba was beginning to assume the bulk of a snow-white elephant. The
Government, not entering the field as buyers, had tried to run the
elevators as a storage proposition solely. In 1910-11 the loss had
exceeded $84,000 and the year following was not much better. At last
the Government said in effect to the Grain Growers:
We've lost money on this proposition. We tried it out to please you
farmers, but you're still dissatisfied. Try to run 'em yourselves!
We'll just do that, replied the farmers, although the Grain
Growers' Grain Company was not enthusiastic over the prospect of
converting the elevator failure into immediate financial success.
It was too much to expect. At many points the Government owned all
the elevators in sight. In some places there was too much elevator
accommodation for the district's volume of business. In certain cases
the elevators which had been sold to the Government were practically
discards to begin with. However, the need for improvement in the
service which the farmers were getting at country points was so very
great that finally, in 1912, the farmers assumed control of the
government system in Manitoba.
It was late in August when this came about. With only three or four
weeks in which to prepare for the season's crop, make repairs, secure
competent managers, travelling superintendents and office staff the
results of the first season scarcely could offer a fair test. Even so,
prices for street grain went up at competing points. Line elevator
companies began asking the farmer for his grain instead of merely
permitting him to place it in their elevators.
The farmers were quick to note this and asked that the elevator
service be continued by their company. With better organization the
following season brought still greater improvement in service. Prices
rose. The special binning service from their own elevators the farmers
found genuine, not just a last-minute privilege granted to secure their
grain. In spite of bad crop conditions in 1914-15, the elevators
continued to succeed under the farmers' own management and, the year
following, letters of highest praise from farmers everywhere marked the
complete success of the undertaking. So excellent was the service now
being rendered by the Company that independent Farmers' Elevators in
several instances approached the Grain Growers and sought their
The handling of co-operative supplies at elevator points began in
1913-14. Flour houses were erected where prices were out of proportion
and at other places the elevator agents began to arrange for carload
shipments and proper distribution of coal among the farmers at a saving
of from two to three dollars per ton.
These co-operative lines at elevator points soon were enlarged with
much success. In addition to the elevators leased from the Manitoba
Government the Grain Growers' Grain Company bought outright, erected or
leased sixty elevators of its own.
Those who were watching all this steadily grew more restive. The
Farmers' Movement in the West was fast becoming a subject of bitter
When farmers advance to the last furrow of plowed land on the farm
they breast the fence which skirts the Public Highway, argued many Men
of Business. They are climbing over the fence!
But the organized farmers were not inclined to recognize fences in
restriction of honest competition. They believed they were on the Open
Range and held unswervingly on their way.
CHAPTER XVIII. A FINAL TEST
We sometimes had those little rubs which Providence sends to enhance
the value of its favors.Vicar of Wakefield.
While developing co-operative purchasing of farm supplies the
pioneer business organization of the farmers had continued its policy
of expansion in the grain business. The ideal of the farmers had been
to reduce to the lowest possible point the cost between the producer in
Western Canada and the Old Country consumer who bought most of the
Western grain. By engaging in the export business they hoped to become
an influence in keeping export valuesthe price at Port William, in
other wordsat a truer level.
Prior to 1912 the export activities of the Grain Growers had been
restricted necessarily to an experimental basis; but on January 1st,
1912, the Grain Growers' Export Company, as it was called, was
organized for business on a larger scale.
It now becomes necessary to record a final test of the Grain
Growers' Grain Company inasmuch as it demonstrated the mettle of the
farmers in a significant mannerthe test of serious internal
disagreement. Of all the threatening situations through which this
organization had passed none was more critical than this later
The trouble was a brew which simmered for some time before the steam
of it permeated beyond directors' meetings. It began early in 1912 as
an aftermath of the unfortunate deal in oats, bubbled along to a boil
with the fat finally in the fire at the annual meeting of the
shareholders. The consequences were ladled out during 1913 and the bill
was settled in full at the annual meeting that year with a cheque for
nearly a quarter of a million dollars.
Like most internal troubles in business organizations the personal
equation entered into it. Certain of the directors were inclined to
criticise other directors and to be somewhat dictatory as to how the
farmers' business should be conducted. With the idea of improving the
system of management, the directors at this stage abolished the Board
of Control and the President was made Managing-Director with
supervisory and disciplinary powers.
Not long after this, at a special meeting of the directors to
consider future management, four of the nine directors introduced a
resolution to declare the position of Managing-Director vacant. They
failed to carry itand promptly resigned.
This occurred in March. In the June columns of the Guide
these four directors addressed an open letter to the shareholders,
urging full representation at the forthcoming annual meeting in order
that their criticisms might be threshed out. President Crerar joined in
the request for a full meeting of shareholders. If the loyalty or
ability of any director was to be questioned because he refused to
surrender his judgment to other directors who might disagree with him
on certain matters, it was time to have an understanding. So far as he
was concerned, he could not agree to become a mere speaking-tube for
others who might want their own way against his own convictions of what
was in the best interests of the farmers.
When the annual meeting opened, on July 16th, there was a record
attendance of shareholders and during the routine preliminaries it was
evident that expectancy was on tip-toe among the farmers. The split in
the directorate was a vital matter.
In delivering his annual address the President detailed the business
of the organization for the past year, referring but briefly to the
facts which had led up to the resignation of the four directors. The
Shareholders' Auditor followed with the balance sheet, giving detailed
accounts of receipts, expenditures, assets and liabilities; he answered
all questions asked. Then came a resolution, expressing the thanks of
the shareholders to the Presidentand this moment was chosen by the
leader of the revolt to spin his pin-wheels.
The debate began at three o'clock in the afternoon. It did not end
until ten at night. The President retired from the chair and the
Auditor was called on for detailed information, covering a period of
several years past. In the long speech which was then made by the
leader of the critics the President was declared responsible for all
the alleged mismanagement and his retention in office undesirable.
To the surprise of everyone a fifth director now took the floor and
joined the attack. Not having been one of the four directors who
resigned, this new criticism was unexpected and the tension of the
meeting grew. After amusing himself and the audience for awhile with a
humorous speech, No. 5 ended by suggesting that the President was not
sufficiently wicked to be driven from office.
Arose the remaining three members of the resigning quartette and,
one after another, had their say. Finally, when words failed them and
they rested their case, the President spoke briefly.
In the annual address, which he had delivered that morning, no
attempt had been made to deny the inadequacy of the Company's office
organization to cope with the exceptional crop conditions of 1911 and
1912. The latter season particularly had been very trying owing to the
lateness of the crop and the wet harvesting conditions. Twenty-five per
cent. of the grain, which started for market a month late, was tough,
damp or wet. The arrival of snow had prevented hundreds of thousands of
acres from being threshed and, on top of it all, railway traffic had
become congested so that cars of grain got lost for weeks and even
months and there were long delays in getting the outturns of cars after
they were unloaded. Money was scarce and farmers who were being pressed
for liabilities to merchants, banks and machinery companies found it
hard to get cars; naturally, once they had shipped, they were in no
mood for further delays.
Owing to the condition of the grain, too, the grading was so
uncertain that exceptional care had been necessary in accepting bank
drafts on carloads of grain for amounts nearly double their possible
value under the unusual current crop conditions. Even with the greatest
care the Company found that in many instances they had given greater
advances than were realized when the cars were sold. The refusal of
drafts, passed by some local banks for amounts the managers should have
known could not be met, led to many hard things being said against the
Under these conditions it was only to be expected that the work in
the office would become congested badly for weeks at a stretch. Double
the amount of work was entailed in handling a given quantity of grain,
compared to the season before. The Company was handicapped for office
space also and errors were bound to occur in a business involving so
much detail that a simple mistake might lead to infinite trouble.
Correspondence had not been answered as promptly as it should have
been, the necessary information regarding shipments being unavailable.
All of these things had been met frankly in the President's annual
address and now when he brought the day's animated debate to a close he
added merely a word or two regarding the strong financial position to
which the farmers' pioneer trading organization had won its way in the
commercial world. He pointed out the future that lay before it. Upon
personal attacks he did not comment at all.
Immediately a unanimous vote of thanks for his untiring work and
loyalty was tendered Mr. Crerar. The debate was over. The following
morning the officers for the ensuing year were chosen and only one of
the four directors who had resigned from the old Board was re-elected.
He withdrew and the whole incident was closed.
But the real test was yet to come. The withdrawal of the four
directors had left but five to cope with the difficult situation of the
Export Company. It had found itself with a large amount of ocean
freight on its handsfreight which had been secured on favorable terms
from shipping agents for use later in transporting grain which the
farmers' agency expected to sell in the Old Country. It was decided to
cut off the export business entirely for the time being and to re-let
the ocean shipping space to other exporters. The price of ocean freight
fluctuated to such an extent, however, that rather than accept an
immediate loss it was thought better to use the freight, after all,
making shipment to fill.
At the time of the sixth annual meeting the Export Company had stood
about level on the books; but during the two succeeding months the
grain shipped from Fort William went out of condition while crossing
the ocean and when it arrived in port the Old Country buyers refused to
look at it. Heavy charges had to be met in treating to bring it to sale
condition and very heavy losses were incurred. Before the matter was
cleaned up finally these losses totalled more than $230,000.
When a quarter of a million dollars has been expended in a direction
where tangible results have not been in evidencewhen it has been
sacrificed apparently for the sake of a principlethen does the manner
in which such a loss is accepted become significant. The exporting of
grain had begun to receive particular attention from the shareholders
of the Grain Growers' Grain Company following the season of 1907-8 when
they discovered the apparent margin of profit in the export business
during much of the season to be from eight to twelve cents per bushel.
This had been due, no doubt, to the fact that it was a time of
financial stringency and only a few exporting firms could get the money
necessary to carry on the business. The export value of grain, the
farmers had figured, should be its value in the world's markets, less
the cost of delivering it. By engaging in the export business,
obtaining their cable offers regularly from the Old Country, they felt
that their competition would be a factor in governing the prices paid
the farmer, thereby benefiting every farmer in the West.
That this had been accomplished the shareholders of the trading
company were convinced. Therefore, instead of losing their heads as
well as this large sum of money, they examined the situation coolly and
sanely, making up their minds that the loss was due to the grain going
out of condition because of the unusual weather which had characterized
the season. No doubt the executive and directors had been handicapped
by their lack of knowledge as to the methods and manner in which the
export business was done; but that was to be expected and only by
experience could they learn.
Can the export part of our business be developed successfully with
a little more time? asked the farmers.
Yes, we believe so, replied their officers.
That's all we want to know. Write a cheque to cover this loss,
reorganize the Export Company and stick to it.
This faith in their officers, in themselves and in the cause they
had at heart was justified within the next two seasons when success was
achieved with the subsidiary concern and the farmers were able to
congratulate themselves that they had been sufficiently level-headed
not to allow themselves to be stampeded from the exporting field
altogether to the great weakening of their influence.
The accomplishments of the Grain Growers in marketing their own
grain cannot be dismissed with careless gesture. Their severest critic
must admit that the manner in which the farmers conducted themselves in
the face of the situation that threatened entitles them to respect.
CHAPTER XIX. MEANWHILE, IN
An old man on the point of death summoned his sons around him to
give them some parting advice. He ordered his servants to bring in a
faggot of sticks, and said to his eldest son: Break it. The son
strained and strained, but with all his efforts was unable to break the
bundle. The other sons also tried, but none of them was successful.
Untie the faggots, said the father, and each of you take a stick. When
they had done so, he called out to them: Now break; and each stick was
easily broken. You see my meaning, said their father. Let affection
bind you to one another. Together you are strong; separated you are
Eventful years, these through which the Grain Growers of Western
Canada were passing. While the Grain Growers' Grain Company was
undertaking the initial experiments in co-operative purchasing of farm
supplies, showing the Manitoba Government that farmers could run
elevators satisfactorily and fighting its way forward to success in the
exporting field, how were things getting along in Saskatchewan? With
$52,000 and another four or five hundred in loose change tucked away in
its hip pocket as the net profit of its first season's operations the
new system of co-operative elevators had struck out on a bee line for
Success and was swinging along at a steady gait, full of confidence.
The volume of business handled through these elevators the first year
had been affected by the failure of the contractors to finish
construction of all the elevators by the dates specified. Even so, the
new company had handled 3,261,000 bushels of grain, more than half of
it being special binned.
In planning to build eighty-eight new elevators in 1912 and to
purchase six, thereby bringing the total to 140 co-operative elevators,
the directors thought it wise to form a construction department of
their own instead of relying upon outside contractors. Also it was
decided to open a commission department of their own at Winnipeg, the
volume of business in sight being very encouraging. This move was not
made, however, because of any dissatisfaction with the Grain Growers'
Grain Company's services as selling agent; on the other hand, although
crop conditions had been perhaps the most unfavorable in the history of
Saskatchewan and the grain with its diversity of grades therefore very
difficult to market satisfactorily, the Board of Directors acknowledged
in their annual report that the wisdom of the arrangement with the
Grain Growers' Grain Company had been proved by the satisfactory
working of it.
The volume of business handled by the 137 elevators in operation the
second year jumped to 12,900,000 bushels with a net profit of
approximately $168,000, and it was apparent that the general acceptance
of the co-operative scheme throughout the province would mean
organization upon a large scale. This was emphasized during the 1913
grain season when 192 elevators were in operation and about 19,500,000
bushels of grain were hauled in to the co-operative elevators by
This rapid expansion of the Saskatchewan Co-Operative Elevator
Company was entailing such an increase in staff organization that it
became necessary to provide special office accommodation. Accordingly a
site for a permanent building of their own was purchased in 1914 at
Regina and the following year a modern, fireproof building was erected.
It stands two storeys on a high basement, with provision for additional
storeys, occupies a space of 9,375 square feet, has interior finish of
oak and architecturally it is a matter of pride to the farmers who own
it. This building has become the headquarters of the Saskatchewan
Co-Operative Elevator Company and likewise the Saskatchewan Grain
Growers' Association, the offices of the latter occupying the entire
While the erection of this building afforded visible proof of
financial progress the Saskatchewan farmers were warned by the
directors and the general manager of the Co-Op that co-operation
which was allowed to degenerate into mere production of dividends would
but reproduce in another form the evil it was intended to destroy. The
ideal of service was the vital force which must be kept in mind and the
work of the Grain Growers' Association in fostering this ideal must be
The Association has its great work of organization, education and
agitation, stated Charles A. Dunning, the elevator company's manager,
and the company the equally great work of giving practical effect to
the commercial and co-operative ideals of the Association, both
institutions being branches of one united Farmers' Movement having for
its object the social and economic uplift of the farming industry.
Not a little of the early success of the Saskatchewan Co-Operative
Elevator Company was due to the energy and business ability which
Dunning brought to bear upon its organization and development. The
story of this young homesteader's rise from the ranks of the Grain
Growers is worth noting. It was back in 1902 that he first reached the
Westa seventeen-year-old Englishman, green as the grass that grew
over there in Leicester. He did not know anything then about the
historic meeting of pioneer grain growers which Motherwell and Dayman
had assembled not long before at Indian Head. He was concerned chiefly
with finding work on a farm somewhere and hired out near Yorkton,
Saskatchewan, for ten dollars a month. After awhile he secured one of
the Government's 160-acre slices of homestead land and proceeded to
demonstrate that oxen could haul wheat twenty-five miles to a railway
if their driver sat long enough on the load.
There came a day when Dunning, filled with a new feeling of
independence, started for Yorkton with a load of wheat and oats. It was
along towards spring when the snow was just starting to go and at a
narrow place in the trail, as luck would have it, he met a farmer
returning from town with an empty sleigh. In trying to pass the other
fellow Dunning's sleigh upset. While helping to reload the farmer
imparted the information that oats were selling for eight cents and all
he had been able to get for his wheat was something like thirteen cents
in Yorkton the day before! The young Englishman's new feeling of
independence slid into his shoe-packs as he stared speechless at his
neighbor. Right-about went his oxen and back home he hauled his load,
angry and dismayed and realizing that something was wrong with Western
conditions that could bring about such treatment.
When a branch of the Grain Growers' Association was formed at
Beaverdale, not far from his homestead, it is scarcely necessary to say
that young Dunning joined and took an active part in the debates.
Finally he was chosen as delegate for the district at the annual Grain
Growers' convention at Prince Albert on condition that he could finance
the trip on $17.50. The story is told that Dunning figured by making
friends with the furnace man of one of the hotels he might be allowed
to sleep in the cellar for the week he would be in Prince Albert and
manage to get through on this meagre expense fund! At any rate he did
find a place to lay his head and, if reports be true, actually came
back with money in his pocket.
It was at this convention that the young man first attracted
attention. The delegates had deadlocked over a discussion in regard to
a scheme for insuring crops against hailstorms in Saskatchewan, half of
them favoring it and half opposing it. The young homesteader from
Beaverdale got up, ran his fingers through his pompadour and outlined
the possibilities of co-operative insurance which would apply only to
municipalities where a majority of the farmers favored the idea. He
talked so convincingly and sanely that the convention elected him as a
director of the Association and later when the co-operative elevator
scheme was broached he was elected vice-president of the Association
and the suggestion was made that he undertake the work of organizing
the new elevator concern. Incidentally, the man who suggested this was
E. A. Partridge, of Sintalutathe same Partridge who had fathered the
Grain Growers' Grain Company and who already had located T. A. Crerar,
of Russell, Manitoba.
Out of Dunning's suggestion at Prince Albert grew the Saskatchewan
Hail Insurance Commission which was recommended to the Provincial
Government by the Association in 1911 and brought into operation the
following year. The legislation provided for municipal co-operative
hail insurance on the principle of a provincial tax made operative by
local option. Twenty-five or more rural municipalities having agreed to
join to insure against hail the crops within the municipalities,
authority would be granted to collect a special taxnot to exceed four
cents per acreon all land in the municipalities concerned.
Administration would be in the hands of the Hail Insurance Commission,
which would set the rate of the special tax. All claims and expenses
would be paid from the pooled fund and all crops in the respective
municipalities would be insured automatically. If damage by hail
occurred insurance would be paid at the rate of five dollars per acre
when crop was destroyed completely and pro rata if only
partially destroyed. This co-operative insurance scheme was instituted
successfully in the fall of 1912, soon spread throughout Saskatchewan
and was destined eventually to carry more than twenty-five million
dollars of hail insurance.
Shortly after the launching of co-operative hail insurance the
discussions among the Saskatchewan farmers in regard to the
co-operative purchasing of farm commodities for their own use came to a
head in a request to the Provincial Government for the widening of
charter powers in order that the Association might organize a
co-operative trading department. In 1913 authorization to act as a
marketing and purchasing agent for registered co-operative associations
was granted and next year the privilege was extended to include local
grain growers' associations.
Thus the Trading Department of the Saskatchewan Grain Growers'
Association takes the form of a Central Office, or wholesale body,
through which all the Locals can act collectively in dealing with
miners, millers, manufacturers, etc. The Central sells to organized
Locals only, they in turn selling to their members. The surplus
earnings of the Central are distributed to the Locals which have
invested capital in their Central, such distribution being made in
proportion to the amount of business done with the Central by the
During its first season of co-operative purchasing the Association
handled 25,000 tons of coal and in a year or two there was turned over
in a season enough binder twine to bind fifty million bushels of
grainabout 4,500,000 pounds of twine. When the Western potato crop
failed in 1915 the Association imported four and one-half million
bushels of potatoes for its members, cutting the market price in some
cases a dollar per bushel. Flour, apples, cord-wood, building supplies,
vegetables and groceries likewise were purchased and distributed
co-operatively. The savings effected by the farmers cannot be tallied
alone from actual quantities of goods thus purchased through their own
organization but must include a large aggregate saving due to reduction
of prices by outside dealers.
Such commodities as coal and flour being best distributed through
local warehouses, it is likely that eventually the Saskatchewan
Co-Operative Elevator Company will take a hand in helping the
Association and the Locals with the handling of co-operative supplies
by furnishing the large capital investment needed to establish these
The necessary financial strength to accomplish this is readily
conceived to be available after a glance at later developments in
Saskatchewan. The co-operative elevators now exceed 300. The figures
for the season of 1915-16 show a total of more than 39,000,000 bushels
of grain handled with an additional 4,109,000 bushels shipped over the
loading platforms. Without deducting war-tax the total profit earned by
the Saskatchewan company within the year was in the neighborhood of
three-quarters of a million dollars. The Saskatchewan Co-Operative
Elevator Company in 1916 began building its own terminal elevator at
Port Arthur with a capacity of 2,500,000 bushels. By this time there
were 18,000 shareholders with a subscribed capital of $3,358,900, of
which $876,000 was paid up.
In these later years a remarkable development is recorded also by
the Saskatchewan Grain Growers' Association until it is by far the
largest and best organized secular body in the province with over 1,300
Locals and a membership exceeding 28,000.
The Secretary of the AssociationJ. B. Musselman, himself a
farmerhas done much hard work in office and looks forward to the time
when the Locals will own their own breeding stock, assemble and fatten
their own poultry, handle and ship their eggs, operate their own
co-operative laundries and bakeries, kill and cure meat in co-operative
butcher-shops for their own usehave meeting places, rest rooms, town
offices, libraries, moving-pictures and phonographs with which to
entertain and inform themselves. To stand with a hand on the hilt of
such a dream is to visualize a revolution in farm and community
lifesuch a revolution as would switch much attraction from city to
Whatever the future may hold in store, the fact remains that already
much valuable legislation has been secured from the Government of
Saskatchewan by the farmers. Perhaps in no other province are the Grain
Growers in as close touch with the Government, due to the nature of the
co-operative enterprises which have been launched with Government
support financially. Three members of the cabinet are men who have been
identified closely with the Grain Growers' Movement. Hon. W. R.
Motherwell has held portfolio as Minister of Agriculture for many
years. Hon. George Langley, Minister of Municipal Affairs, helped to
organize the farmers of Northern Saskatchewan in the early days.
Finally in 1916 C. A. Dunning resigned as general manager of the
Saskatchewan Co-Operative Elevator Company to become the youngest
Provincial Treasurer in Canada; for already the Saskatchewan Government
had called upon him for service on two official commissions to
investigate agriculture and finance in most of the European countries
and his services were valuable.
Langley has been a prominent figure in Saskatchewan affairs ever
since his arrival in the country in 1903. He was forty-one years old
when he came and he brought with him long training as a public speaker,
a knowledge of human nature and a ready twinkle in his eye for
everything humorous. According to himself, his first job was chasing
sparrows from the crops. After leaving the English rural life in which
he was reared, he had worked on the London docks and as a London
business man. In politics he became a disciple of the Cobden-Bright
school and was one of the first members of the Fabian Society under the
leadership of the redoubtable Bernard Shaw. It was Langley's habit, it
is said, to talk to London crowds on side thoroughfares, standing on a
soap-box and ringing a hand-bell to attract attention.
In becoming a Western Canadian farmer it did not take him long to
slip around behind the problems of the farming class; for there was no
greater adept at poking a cantankerous problem about with a sharp stick
than the Honorable George. It was natural for this short, stout,
bearded Englishman to gravitate into the first Legislature of the
newly-formed Province of Saskatchewan and just as naturally he moved up
to a place in the cabinet.
As one of the sponsors of the co-operative elevator scheme, by
virtue of his place on the commission which recommended it, Langley has
taken much interest in the co-operative activities of the farmers and
on many occasions has acted as their spokesman.
With the relationships outlined it was to be expected that now and
then opponents would hint that the Saskatchewan authorities had played
politics with the farmers. Such charges, of course, are refuted
indignantly. Knowing the widespread desire among the farmers themselves
to keep free from political alliances, it would be a foolish government
indeed which would fail to recognize that not to play politics was the
best kind of politics that could be played.
Other leaders of sterling worth have contributed to the acknowledged
success of co-operation in Saskatchewan, not forgetting John A. Maharg
who came from Western Ontario in 1890 to settle near Moose Jaw. From
the very beginning J. A. Maharg has worked for the cause of the
farmers. A pioneer himself, he has a deep understanding of the Western
Canadian farmers' problems and his devotion to their solution has
earned him universal appreciation among the Grain Growers of
Saskatchewan. Year after year he has been elected to the highest office
in the gift of the Association. He has been President many times of
both the Saskatchewan Grain Growers' Association and the Saskatchewan
Co-Operative Elevator Company.
The Grain Growers' Movement, then, in this Province of Saskatchewan
where it had its beginning, has grown to wonderful proportions with the
passing of the years. Co-operation has been a pronounced success. The
old conditions have passed far back down the trail. The new order of
things has been fought for by men who have known the taste of smoky
tea, the sour sweat of toil upon the land, the smell of the smudge
fires on a still evening and the drive of the wind on the open plain.
Out of the pioneer past they have stepped forward to the larger
opportunities of the timestimes which call for clear heads and wise
For as they build for the future so will the Sons of the Movement
watch and learn.
 The Union Government at Ottawa decided in February, 1918, to
replace the office of Food Controller by the Canada Food Board,
organized as a branch of the Dominion Department of Agriculture under
Hon. T. A. Crerar. Hon. Charles A. Dunning was selected as Director of
Production. The other members of the Canada Food Board were: H. B.
Thomson, Chairman and Director of Conservation; J. D. McGregor,
Director of Agricultural Labor. (Mr. McGregor resigned after a year in
CHAPTER XX. WHAT HAPPENED IN ALBERTA
Beyond the fields we plough are others waiting,
The fallows of the ages all unknown.
Beyond the little harvests we are reaping
Are wider, grander harvests to be grown.
Gerald J. Lively.
Out in the great Range Country all this time the United Farmers were
lickety-loping along the trail of difficulties that carried their own
special brand. The round-up revealed increasing opportunities for
service and one by one their problems were cut out from the general
herd, roped, tied and duly attended to for the improvement of
conditions in Alberta. Here and there a difficulty persisted in
breaking away and running about bawling; but even these finally were
Along with the Grain Growers of Manitoba and Saskatchewan the United
Farmers of Alberta had campaigned consistently for government ownership
of elevators, both provincial and terminal. They had received assurance
from Premier Rutherford that if a satisfactory scheme could be evolved,
the Provincial Government was prepared to carry out the establishment
of a line of internal elevators in Alberta. It looked as if all that
remained to be done was to follow the lead of Manitoba or Saskatchewan.
But on careful consideration neither of the plans followed in the
other two provinces appeared to fit the special needs of the Alberta
farmers. The province at the western end of the grain fields
accordingly experienced quite a delay in obtaining elevator action.
In the meantime the discussion of terminal storage facilities was
going on at Ottawa. The need for such facilities at Calgary and
Vancouver was pressed by the Alberta representatives on various farmer
delegations and finally the Dominion Government declared its intention
of establishing internal elevators with full modern equipment at Moose
Jaw and Saskatoon in Saskatchewan and at Calgary in Alberta; a Dominion
Government terminal elevator at the Pacific Coast likewise was on the
By this time the government operation of the Manitoba elevators had
proved a complete failure and they had been leased by the Grain
Growers' Grain Company. In Saskatchewan, however, the co-operative
elevators were proving successful.
A close study of the co-operative scheme adopted in the province
just east of them enabled the United Farmers of Alberta to work out a
plan along similar lines. This was presented to the Premier, whose name
meanwhile had changed from Rutherford to Sifton. The Act incorporating
the Alberta Farmers' Co-Operative Elevator Company, Limited, was
drafted in the spring of 1913 and passed unanimously by the
Legislature. The new company held its first meeting in August, elected
its officers and went to work enthusiastically.
It had been decided by the United Farmers that full control and
responsibility must rest in their own hands. They proposed to provide
the means for raising at each point where an elevator was built
sufficient funds to finance the purchase of grain at that point from
their own resources, at the same time providing for the handling of
other business than grain.
Under the Act the Provincial Government made cash advance of
eighty-five per cent. of the cost of each elevator built or bought by
the Company, but had no say whatever as to whether any particular
elevator should be bought or built at any particular place, what it
should cost or what its capacity or equipment should be. In security
for the loan the Government took a first mortgage on the elevator and
other property of the Company at the given point. The loans on
elevators were repayable in twenty equal annual instalments.
The Company started off with the organization of forty-six Locals
instead of the twenty which the Act called for and the construction of
forty-two elevators was rushed. Ten additional elevators were bought.
Although construction was not completed in time to catch the full
season's business the number of bushels handled was 3,775,000, the
Grain Growers' Grain Company acting as selling agent. By the end of the
second year twenty-six more elevators had been built and the volume of
grain handled had expanded to 5,040,000 bushels.
Now, this progress had been achieved in the face of continuous
difficulties of one kind and another. Chief of these was the attempt to
finance such a large amount of grain upon a small paid-up capital. The
Company found that after finishing construction of the elevators they
had no money with which to buy grain nor any assets available for bank
borrowings. It was impossible to obtain credit upon the unpaid capital
stock. The Provincial Government was approached for a guarantee of the
account along the lines followed in Saskatchewan; but the Government
refused to assume the responsibility.
It was at this juncture that the enemies of co-operation were
afforded a practical demonstration of the fact that they had to deal
not with any one farmers' organization but with them all. For the Grain
Growers' Grain Company stepped into the breach with its powerful
The Alberta farmers were clamoring for the handling of farm supplies
as well as grain; so that the young trading company in Alberta had its
hands more than full to organize a full stride in usefulness from the
start. The organization of the United Farmers of Alberta was growing
very rapidly and the co-operative spirit was tremendously strong
throughout the province. There was a demand for the handling of
livestock shipments and soon it was necessary to establish a special
It will be recalled that one of the subjects in which the Alberta
farmers were interested from the first was the possibility of
persuading the Provincial Government to undertake a co-operative
pork-packing plant. Following the report of the Pork Commission upon
the matter, however, official action on the part of the authorities had
languished. The various committees appointed from year to year by the
United Farmers gradually had acquired much valuable data and at last
were forced to the conclusion that the development of a packing
industry along co-operative lines was not so simple as it had appeared
at first. Even in much older settled countries than Alberta the
question, they found, had its complications. The first thing to
discover was whether the farmers of a community were able and willing
to adjust themselves to the requirements of an association for shipping
stock together in carload lots to be sold at the large markets. Until
such demonstration had been made it seemed advisable to defer the
organization of a co-operative packing business.
After the formation of the Co-Operative Elevator Company, therefore,
the Alberta farmers proceeded to encourage the co-operative shipment of
livestock on consignment by their local unions. The Livestock
Department entered the field first as buyers of hogs, handling 16,000
hogs in the first four months. The experiment bettered prices by
half-a-cent per pound and the expansion of the Department began in
earnest the following season when nearly 800 cars of hogs, cattle and
sheep were handled.
On top of all the other troubles of the first year the farmers lost
a valuable leader in the death of the president of the Co-Operative
Elevator Company, W. J. Tregillus. Complete re-organization of the
Executive was made and the question of his successor was considered
from every angle. It was vital that no mistake be made in this
connection and two of the directors were sent to study the business
methods and policies of the Grain Growers' Grain Company and the
Saskatchewan Co-Operative Elevator Company and to secure a General
Manager. They failed to get in touch with anyone to fill the
requirements and the management of both the other farmers' concerns
expressed grave doubts as to the wisdom of a farmers' company looking
for a manager whose training had been received with line elevator
companies and who had not seen things from the farmer's side.
One of the remarkable features of the advance of the Farmers'
Movement has been the manner in which strong leaders have stepped from
their own ranks to meet every need. It has been a policy of the
organized farmers to encourage the younger men to apply themselves
actively in the work in order that they might be qualified to take up
the responsibilities of office when called upon. There are many
outstanding examples of the wisdom of this in the various farmers'
executives to-day; so that with the on-coming of the years there is
little danger that sane, level-headed management will pass. Several of
the men occupying prominent places to-day in the Farmers' Movement have
grown up entirely under its tutelage.
So it turned out that in Alberta the man the farmers were seeking
was one of themselvesone of the two directors sent out to locate a
manager, in fact. His name was C. Rice-Jones. His father was an English
Church clergyman whose work lay in the slum districts of London. This
may have had something to do with the interest which the young man had
in social problems. When at the age of sixteen he became a Canadian and
went to work on various farms, finally homesteading in Alberta, that
interest he carried with him. Out of his own experiences he began to
apply it in practical ways and the Farmers' Movement drew him as a
magnet draws steel. He became identified with the Veteran district
eventually and there organized a local union. It was not long before he
was in evidence in the wider field of the United Farmers' activities.
Fortunately the new President and General Manager of the Alberta
Farmers' Co-Operative Elevator Company was not a man to lose his sense
of direction in a muddle of affairs. Into the situation which awaited
him he waded with consummate tact, discernment and push; so that it was
not long before his associates were pulling with him for the fullest
weight of intelligent effort. The difficulties were sorted and sifted
and classified, the machinery oiled and running true, and with a
valuable directorate at his back Rice-Jones made good.
The third season of the Alberta Farmers' Co-operative Elevator
Company brought the final proof that the farmers knew how to support
their own institutions. For through the 87 elevators that the farmers
operated in Alberta flowed a total of nearly twenty million bushels of
grain, with well over ten and one-quarter million bushels handled on
commission. The Livestock Department in the face of severe competition
achieved a permanent place in the livestock business of the province
with offices of its own in the stock yards at Calgary and Edmonton. By
this time livestock shipments had amounted to a value in excess of two
million dollars. The Co-Operative Department had handled farm supplies
to a total turnover of approximately $750,000.
As in the case of the Grain Growers' Grain Company and the
Saskatchewan Grain Growers' Association's trading department the list
of articles purchased co-operatively by the Alberta farmers grew very
rapidly to include flour, feed, binder twine, coal, lumber and fence
posts, wire fencing, fruit and vegetables, hay, salt, etc. In 1915-16 a
thousand cars of these goods were purchased and distributed
co-operatively, besides which a considerable volume of business was
done in less-than-carload lots. Coal sheds were built in connection
with many elevators, the staff increased and the entire Co-Operative
Department thoroughly organized for prompt and satisfactory service.
 See AppendixPar. 13.
CHAPTER XXI. IN THE DRAG OF THE
I see the villain in your face!
May it plaze yer worship, that must be a
personal reflection, sure.
Irish Wit and Humor (Howe).
The good old days when the Farmer was a poor sheep without a
shepherd, shorn to the pink hide with one tuft of wool left over his
eyesthose good old days are gone forever. It is some time now since
he became convinced that if a lion and a lamb ever did lie down
together the lamb would not get a wink of sleep. As a matter of
survival he has been making use of the interval to become a lion
himself and the process has been productive of a great roaring in the
All this co-operative purchasing of commodities in the three Prairie
Provinces has not been developed to its present great volume without
arousing antagonism in the business world. The co-operative idea in
merchandizing is not confined to the West by any means. From the
Atlantic to the Pacific various organizations have been formed to carry
on business along co-operative lines. A Co-Operative Union has been
formed to propagate the movement and the subject is vast.
But the establishment of an extending network of elevators under the
control of the Western farmers has brought about possibilities which
threaten to revolutionize the whole established commercial system.
Farmers' Elevators in Dakota, Minnesota and Alberta have proved that it
is practical to utilize the same staff at each point to manage the
distribution of farm supplies as well as looking after elevator
operation during the grain season. This being so, it is not difficult
to visualize a great distributing system under centralized management
with tremendous purchasing power.
There are those whose imaginations stretch readily to the extreme
view that the Grain Growers are a menace. Such are filled with
foreboding. They see the country merchant out of business and the whole
business fabric destroyed.
The farmers are talking everlastingly about 'a square deal,' it is
argued. Why don't they practice what they preach and give the country
merchant a square deal? What about the times of poor crops and money
scarcity? Where would the farmer have been if the country merchant had
not carried him on the books for the necessities of life?
It didn't cost the merchant anything to carry me, denies the
farmer. He just raised his prices to me and got credit from the
Then what about the wholesaler?
Raised his prices and got credit from the manufacturer and the
Then the banks
Refused to give me the credit in the first place! interrupts the
farmer resentfully. Do you dare to blame me, Mister, for cutting out
all these unnecessary middle charges when by proper organization I am
able to finance myself and take advantage of cash discounts on the cost
That is the Farmer's motive for taking action. He wants to improve
his scale of living for the sake of his family. By making the farm home
a place of comfort his sons and daughters will be more content to
remain on the land. He does not seek to hoard money; he intends to
spend it. If middlemen are crowded out of his community it will be
because there are too many of them. Instead of having to support
parasites the community will be just that much more prosperous, the
farms just that much better equipped, the land just that much more
productive and thereby the country's wealth just that much greater.
That is how it appears to the Farmer.
If the Farmer is to be a merchant, a wholesaler, a banker and all
the rest of it he is no longer a farmer. Is nobody else to have a right
to live? enquires the Cynic. Did these Grain Growers fight the
elevator combine of the early days in order that they could establish a
Farmers' Combine? Is one any better than the other?
The inference is that the Grain Growers are bluffing deliberately
and aiming at all the abuses conjured by the word, combine. The
slander is self-evident to anyone who examines the constitution of the
Farmers' Movement, so framed from the first that any possibility of
clique control was removed for all time. It is impossible to have a
combine of fifty thousand units and maintain the necessary appeal to
the cupidity of the individual. It is not possible for designing
leaders, if such there were, to take even the first step in
manipulation without discovery. It simply cannot be done. Woe betide
the man who even exhibited such tendencies among his fellow Grain
Growers! These organized farmers have learned how to do their own
thinking and every rugged ounce of them is assertive. They are not to
be fooled easily nor stampeded from their objective. And what is that
To play politics! explodes the hidebound Party Politician
To get a share in the Divvy and eventually hog it! suggests the
Equal opportunities to all; special privileges to none, the Grain
Grower patiently reiterates.
He believes in doing away with the Divvy altogether. He believes
that the spoils system is bad government and that no stone should be
left unturned to elevate the living conditions of the Average Citizen
to the highest possible plane. He believes that the status of a nation
depends upon the status of its Average Citizen and in that he does not
consider himself to be preaching Socialism but Common Sense.
Come back to the country storeto the Country Retailer who is
pulling on the other end of the whiffle-tree with the Farmer for
community progress. Each is necessary to the other and it is a vital
matter if the co-operation of the Farmer is going to kill off a
teammate, especially when tandeming right behind them are the
Clydesdales of Commerce, the Wholesaler and the Manufacturer. With the
Farmer kicking over the traces, the Retailer biting and squealing at
the Wholesaler every little while and the Manufacturer with his ears
laid back flat this distribution of merchandize in Western Canada is no
easy problem. It is bringing the Bankers to their aristocratic portals
all along the route and about the only onlooker who is calm and serene
is the Mail-Order Man as he passes overhead post-haste in the
Government flying machine.
I'd get along alright if the Farmer would pay up his debts to me,
cries the Retailer. I've been giving him too long a line of credit and
now he's running rings around me and tying me up in a knot. When he
gets some money he goes and buys from my competitors for cash or he
buys more land and machinery. If I shorten the rope he busts it and
I'd be alright if everybody else would mind their own business,
grumbles the Wholesaler. Just trot along there now! Pay your bills,
Farmer. Improve your service, Retailer. Don't ask me about high or low
tariff. I've got my hands full with established lines and it's my
business to supply them as cheaply as is consistent with quality. I
want to see everybody succeed and it isn't fair to include me in any
mix-up. Only the humming of that confounded flying-machine up
thereCan't somebody bring down that Mail-Order bird? He isn't paying
his share of the taxes while I've helped to finance this country.
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves, sings the
Manufacturer. Giddap, Dobbin!
'Money makes the mare go,' quotes the Finance Minister, taking
another look out of the window at the War Cloud. 'Money comes from the
Soil,' and he push-buttons a buzz-bell over in the Department of
Send out the choir and let's have that 'Patriotism and Production'
song again, is the order issued by some deputy sub-chief's assistant
in response to the P. M.'s signal. We must encourage our farmers to
even nobler efforts.
And all the while the Unearned Increment loafs around, studying the
Interest Charges which are ticking away like a taxicab meter, and the
Common Pee-pul gaze in frozen fascination at the High Cost of Living
flying its kite and climbing the string!
Seriously, though, the situation demands the earnest thought of all
classes. The argument has so many facets that it is impossible within
the limits of a few pages to present an adequate conception of all the
vital problems that surround the Farmers' Movement. Each interest has
its own datapackages of itand it is difficult to know what to
select and what to leave out and at the same time remain entirely fair
to all concerned. There is some truth in many of the accusations which
are bandied about. No new country can do without credit facilities.
What about the homesteader or the poorer farmer who is starting on
meagre resources? They will win through if given a chance. Who is to
give it to them if business is put on a cash basis? On the other hand,
is the man who has the cash to receive no consideration?
The trouble with our banks is that their system falls down when the
retailer or the farmer need them mostin times of stringency. It is
true that the wholesaler has done much for the country, that the
retailer is often at the mercy of careless or selfish customers who
abuse credit privileges. It is true that the mail-order houses also
have performed good services in the general task of making a new
country. The solution can be arrived at only by co-operation in its
true sensegetting togethereverybody. Also, while one may joke about
Patriotism and Production, the fact remains that much has been
accomplished by these campaigns.
Asked if the organization of the farmers meant that the retailer
would be forced out of business, the well posted Credit Manager of a
large Winnipeg wholesale establishment admitted that it would not mean
The same question put to C. Rice-Jones, President and Manager of the
Alberta Farmers' Co-Operative Elevator Company, brought the same
The only men who would be weeded out, said he, are those who have
gone into the local store business without knowing anything about it
and who can remain in it only because the present system allows them to
charge any price they like. The men who know their business will
remain. Those who are objecting to us are objecting to the very thing
they have been doing themselves for fifty yearsorganizing.
We want to farm, not to go into business, remarked H. W. Wood,
President of the United Farmers of Alberta. The local merchant gives
us a local distribution service, a service which has to be given. We
cannot destroy one single legitimate interest. But if there are four or
five men living by giving a service that one man should give in a
community and get just a livingthat is what we are going to correct
and we are absolutely entitled to do so. The selfishness we are accused
of the accusers have practiced right along and these very things make
it necessary for us to organize for self-protection. If they will
co-operate with us to put their business on a legitimate basis we are
willing to quit trying to do this business ourselves.
That is straight talk, surely. It is a challenge to the business men
to meet the farmers half way for a better understanding. No problem
ever was solved by extremists on either side. Enmity and suspicion must
be submerged by sane discussion and mutual concessions bring about the
beginnings of closer unity.
CHAPTER XXII. THE WIDTH OF THE FIELD
Our times are in His hand
Who saith, A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust
God; see all, nor be afraid.
The Grain Growers' Movement in Western Canada now had attained
potential proportions. In Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta the
Provincial Associations with their many Locals were in a flourishing
condition. Each province was headquarters for a powerful farmers'
trading organization to market grain and provide co-operative supplies.
Unlike the Saskatchewan Co-Operative Elevator Company and the Alberta
Farmers' Co-Operative Elevator Company, however, the pioneer business
organization of the Grain Growersthe Grain Growers' Grain
Companywas not provincial in scope but had a large number of
shareholders in each of the three Prairie Provinces, in British
Columbia and Ontario. Altogether, in 1916 the farmers owned and
operated over 500 country elevators as well as terminal elevators to a
capacity of three million bushels. The farmer shareholders in the three
business concerns numbered more than 45,000. During 1916 the farmers
handled over ninety million bushels of their own grain.
With this remarkable growth the danger of rivalries and jealousies
developing between their business organizations was a possibility upon
which the farmers were keeping an eye. A certain amount of friendly
competition was unavoidable. For some time, therefore, the necessity of
closer union of their various organizations had been a serious topic
among the leaders of the Grain Growers in all three provinces. It was
the logical preparation for future achievements.
At its regular meetings in 1915 the Canadian Council of
Agriculturecomprising officials representing the whole Grain Growers'
Movementhad agreed that definite action would be desirable. A meeting
of representatives from the respective Associations and companies
interested accordingly was held in the offices of the Saskatchewan
Co-Operative Elevator Company at Regina. The plan discussed was the
formation of one large business concern, similar in a general way to
the Wholesale Co-Operative Societies in the Old Country.
The idea was that this wholesale company should market and export
grain, control terminal elevators and any manufacturing that might be
done later on as well as importing supplies when necessary. This would
leave each provincial company with its own organization to look after
collection and distribution of supplies and to operate along the lines
already existing in Saskatchewan and Alberta. The provincial companies
would be in absolute control of the central or wholesale company.
A difference of opinion arose in regard to the method of selling
grain. The representatives from the United Farmers of Alberta, the
Alberta Farmers' Co-Operative Elevator Company, the Manitoba Grain
Growers' Association and the Grain Growers' Grain Company were
unanimous in agreeing that it would be unwise to divide the marketing
strength of the farmers into three parts instead of concentrating for
fullest buying and selling power in the interest of the farmers in all
three provinces. With the individual organizations each having a voice
in the control of the central company there did not seem to them to be
justification for carrying provincial divisions into the marketing
machinery, thereby weakening it. With this view the Saskatchewan
representatives could not agree, holding out for a separate selling
channel for Saskatchewan grain.
A committee was appointed to try to work out some other solution to
the problem of federating all three farmers' companies and a new
proposal was submitted at a meeting of the Canadian Council of
Agriculture, held in Winnipeg in July, 1916. This second attempt to get
together was along the line of joint ownership of subsidiary concerns
which would look after certain phases of the workan export company, a
terminal elevator company, the Public Press, Limited, and so on.
However, the plan did not work out satisfactorily.
The feeling of the Alberta officials after the Regina meeting was
that even if Saskatchewan were not ready at the present time to
consider federation on a basis acceptable to the other provinces, this
should not overthrow all idea of federation. In short, the Alberta
directors were strongly of the opinion that, failing complete
affiliation of the farmers' business organizations at this time, the
organization in Alberta and the Grain Growers' Grain Company should get
together nevertheless, and this suggestion they presented at the
meeting of the Canadian Council of Agriculture in Winnipeg.
As this was approved by the Grain Growers' Grain Company and the
Manitoba Association officials steps were taken to go into the matter
in detail, the Saskatchewan organization having signified its intention
of withdrawing from present action. President C. Rice-Jones, of the
Alberta Farmers' Co-Operative Elevator Company, and President T. A.
Crerar, of the Grain Growers' Grain Company, were asked to give the
matter careful thought and make their recommendations to their
respective boards of directors.
There followed a joint meeting of all those interested. It was held
at Winnipeg and the result was a recommendation that the Alberta
Farmers' Co-Operative Elevator Company and the Grain Growers' Grain
Company be amalgamated under the name United Grain Growers, Limited.
 When the matter finally came before the farmers concernedat their
annual meetings in 1916it was decided unanimously to go ahead with
the amalgamation of these two farmers' business organizations.
Accordingly application was made for necessary changes in the
charter of the Grain Growers' Grain Company and these changes were
granted by Act of the Dominion Parliament in June, 1917. The authorized
capital stock of United Grain Growers is five million dollars. Its
annual meetings are to be held in the different provinces alternately.
The shareholders are formed into local groups, each represented by
delegates at annual meetings, these delegates alone doing the voting.
Proxy voting is not allowed. The charter is designed, in brief, to
introduce the system of internal government that has been in practice
by the Alberta Farmers' Co-Operative Elevator Company and the
Saskatchewan Co-Operative Elevator Company and has proved so
satisfactory in every way.
This merger is unique in that the objections to a monopoly cannot
be urged against it. There is no watered stock. With proxy voting
eliminated no group of men can gain control of the company's affairs.
Stock holdings by individuals is limited to $2,000 on a capitalization
of five million and no man can grow rich by speculation with assets.
Instead of exploiting the public the aim is servicereduction of
prices instead of inflation.
United Grain Growers, Limited, have begun their first year's
business as an amalgamated farmers' concern, all the final details
having been settled to the entire satisfaction of the farmers
The fact that the Saskatchewan Grain Growers' executives did not
decide to amalgamate their co-operative marketing machinery with that
of the others just now must not be misconstrued as a lack of harmony
among the leaders of these powerful institutions. For they are meeting
constantly in their inter-provincial relations, for mutual business
advantages and in the broader educational aspects of the entire
It will be seen that with such complete and solid business resources
established in the three Prairie Provinces the organized farmers have
been in a position to widen their field of influence and to carry on
much propaganda work. The Movement has spread steadily until it
embraces organization in other than prairie provinces. There seems to
be a tendency among the entire agricultural population of Canada to
organize and co-operate; so that it is not impossible for Canadian
farmers in time to have a unity of organization in every province of
In Ontario for many years there have been various farmers clubs,
associations or granges. Until 1914 these were merely disorganized
units. At the annual meeting of the Dominion Grange, howeverDecember
17th and 18th, 1913the advisability of consolidating for greater
co-operation was discussed at some length. Representatives from the
Western Grain Growers were present and told the story of what the
Western farmer had accomplished. A committee was appointed and,
after investigating rural conditions in Ontario, this committee called
a convention for March 19th and 20th, 1914, at Toronto. Farmers and
fruit growers turned out in strength, old-time organization was cast
aside and there came into being the United Farmers of Ontario, 
and the United Farmers' Co-Operative Company, Limited,  with aims
and organization similar to those of the Grain Growers.
Although practically born during the waralthough conditions have
been far from normal, the United Farmers of Ontario have progressed
steadily and naturally, with the co-operative activities setting the
pace and with efficient service as the watchword. By 1915 there were
126 local associations with a total membership of 5,000. In the face of
bad climatic conditions and war disturbances 1916 found the young
organization being looked upon by the Ontario agriculturists with
interest instead of suspicion. It continued to grow of its own accord.
By that is meant that no advertising or other energetic campaign was
undertaken; yet the membership increased during the year to 8,000 with
200 Locals organized throughout the province. To-day there is a total
membership in excess of twenty thousand throughout the Province. Local
conventions, addressed by Western leaders and other qualified speakers,
have become a feature of the development.
The first month in business for the United Farmers' Co-Operative
Company was September, 1914, when $827 was taken in. The next month the
sales increased to $6,250, and in November to $8,214. The December
sales jumped to $17,970. The sales for 1915 approximated $226,000. In
1916 this amount was nearly doubled and during the first five months of
1917 the business done reached a total of $513,000. All this on paid-up
capital of only $5,000. The Ontario Company has secured a new charter,
increasing its authorized capital from $10,000 to $250,000.
This expansion has been very satisfactory in view of the special
conditions which necessarily make the progress of the Movement in the
East slower than in the West. Ontario crops varying widely in different
districts, the same unity of interest which has made possible the large
grain companies of the West does not obtain. The Ontario farmers have
had to confine their efforts to commercial lines. Co-operative sale of
livestock, cheese, etc., may develop in time. Also the farm population
in Ontario is in the minority and there are few electoral divisions
where the urban vote does not control, resulting in mixed issues
unknown on the prairies. Powerful influences have been brought to bear
to handicap the Farmers' Movement in Ontario; but nevertheless it is
spreading so rapidly that with the proper educational campaign great
possibilities lie ahead of the Ontario farmers.
The United Farmers of Ontario now have become affiliated with the
Canadian Council of Agriculture, the inter-provincial body of the
organized farmers of Canada. The farmers of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward
Island and Quebec are showing much interest and have sought to have the
Movement extended. Meetings have been held and no doubt in due course
the Eastern farmers will be prepared for unity of action in every
What about British Columbia? On February 16th, 1917, the United
Farmers of British Columbia was a development in the Pacific Coast
Province. Prior to this there had been quite a number of individual
farmers' organizations scattered throughout the agricultural sections
of British Columbia. The initiative for closer unity was taken by the
Cowichan Creamery Association, which called a meeting of the farmers in
the Cowichan district to discuss the cost of production and serious
labor conditions which were threatening complete failure of agriculture
in British Columbia. At this meeting what was called temporarily the
Vancouver Island Farmers' Union was formed with over one hundred
members. Representatives from other districts were on hand to assure
the expansion of the movement and a provisional organization
committee was appointed to carry on the missionary work.
This Provisional Committeecalled into existence by a mass meeting
of farmers held at Duncan, B.C., on November 4th, 1916at once
prepared a strong circular, setting forth the case of the farmers and
the need for organization. This was sent out to the secretaries of all
Farmers' Institutes and suggested that a special meeting of delegates
should be held at Victoria when the usual farmers' conventions were in
session a few months later. Thus came about the final large
organization meeting of February 16th, 1917, which resulted in the
United Farmers of British Columbia, with strong membership under the
guidance of enthusiastic officers.
Representatives of the Grain Growers, from Alberta and Manitoba,
were present to lend the encouragement of their experience. Among them
was Roderick McKenzie, then Secretary of the Canadian Council of
Agriculture. When the farmers commenced organization in Manitoba, he
said, it was possible to find many old-fashioned farmers who could see
no reason for organization. Had not their fathers been successful
farmers? Had they not raised a family of eight or ten or a dozen or
more without belonging to any organization?educated them, too? These
old-time farmers forgot that the world was making progress as the years
went by and they were not living in the same age as their fathers
Fifty years ago, when I was a boy, Mr. McKenzie continued, there
was no such thing as a joint stock company. We would not hear a word
about combines or trusts or transportation organizations or financial
institutions. At that time the business was carried on by individuals.
Then it grew into partnerships. From partnerships it developed into
joint stock corporations and now we have these forming into trusts and
combines and holding companies. It is simply co-operation of the few in
the interests of the few. It created a force in public affairs and this
must be met by another forcethe organization of the common people,
led by the farmers.
Where would the British Army be as a disorganized army confronting
the Germans? Nowhere! Place a body of disorganized farmers in front of
organized industrial interests and you see where you are at! There is
no form of industry, no form of labor, no form of finance, banking
associations, loan associations, insurance compensation associations,
transportation associations, that are not organized. In Winnipeg we
have a Bootblack's Association and each of the little fellows
contributes five dollars a year to the support of their organization
and five dollars represents fifty pairs of boots to blacken at a dime
In our Grain Growers' associations the organization is simple and
coherent. There is no pass-word. There is no grip. There is no riding
of the goat. We don't ask a farmer whether he is a Grit or a Tory; we
don't ask him anything about his nationality or his relations or where
he comes from or anything else. One of the main aims of the
organization is to make good Canadians of the different nationalities
we have in this Western country. We are getting the Galicians and other
nationalities gradually brought ingetting them together for the
development of Canadianism and the community spirit.
The one thing we have steered clear of is letting party politics
enter into our organization. The thing we are trying to do is to
co-operate with our legislators by helping them to find out the things
that need enacting into law and that have not been enacted into law or
to find what laws already on the statute books are weak and ask that
these weaknesses be correctednot in a dominating spirit but in a
spirit of equity.
Public opinion is rallying to the leadership of the farmers. Their
policy is progressive. Probably the first body in Canada to give Woman
her proper place in its activities and councils was the Saskatchewan
Grain Growers' Association. To-day the farm women of the West are
organized with the Grain Growers in all three Prairie Provinces,
working side by side. Their aims are to solve the many problems
directly bearing upon home life, educational facilities, health and all
things which affect the farm woman's life and they have been of great
assistance in many ways, particularly in Red Cross and other patriotic
endeavors. To do justice to the noble efforts of Western Canada's farm
women would require a separate volume.
Still another development with far-reaching possibilities is the
tendency of the Grain Growers and the Church to get together. It first
revealed itself in Alberta under the conscientious encouragement of
President H. W. Wood, of the United Farmers of Alberta, when in 1916 he
inaugurated U.F.A. Sundayone Sunday in each year to be set aside as
the Farmers' own particular day, with special sermons and services. It
was born of a realization that something is fundamentally wrong with
our social institutions and that the Church will have to take broader
responsibilities than it is now doing.
Is Christ to develop the individuals and Carl Marx mobilize and
lead them? asked Mr. Wood. Is Christ to hew the stones and Henry
George build them into the finished edifice? If Christ cannot mobilize
His forces and build true civilization His name will be forgotten in
the earth. The solution of the economic problems must be spiritual
rather than intellectual. This is the work of the Church and the Church
must take the responsibility for it.
Not only did the idea of a special Sunday meet with hearty response
from the churches and farmers in Alberta, but it was taken up in
Manitoba and Saskatchewan. In 1917 Grain Growers' Sunday was observed
all over the West and led to many inspiring addresses. One of the most
significant of these was delivered by President J. A. Maharg, of the
Saskatchewan Grain Growers' Association, at a mass meeting in Moose Jaw
on Sunday, May 27th.
There has been a strong agitation against church union, said Mr.
Maharg. We hope to bring the churches together. The establishment of
community churches is not altogether an impossibility. That groups of
churches will be brought together for the holding of community services
is not altogether impossible, and a farmers' organization is not an
organization that is farthest away from doing this.
In these days of revolutionary thought who shall set the length and
width of the Farmers' field of influence, therefore? A string of
co-related provincial organizations of farmers, stretching right across
the Dominion, working harmoniously through the Canadian Council of
Agriculture, will create a national force which in itself will
represent Public Opinionwhich cannot be denied the upward trend to
wider and better citizenship for all classes in Canada.
For Public Opinion governs legislation as legislation governs the
 See AppendixPar. 17.
 See AppendixPar. 14.
 See AppendixPar. 15.
 See AppendixPar. 11.
 See AppendixPar. 16.
 See AppendixPar. 16.
 See AppendixPar. 18.
CHAPTER XXIII. THE DEPTH OF THE
Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
Because it was the logical and primary source of redress for the
abuses which led the Western farmers to organize, the Grain Growers
from the first have concerned themselves seriously with legislation. It
took them a little while to discover that instead of being an
all-sufficient panacea, mere legislation may become at times as flat
and useless as a cold pancake. But by the time the farmers had come to
close quarters with their difficulties their vision had widened so that
they were able to look ahead, clearing the path for the next step
forward. So frequently have they besought the Governments, both Federal
and Provincial, that occasionally they have been accused by harassed
politicians of playing politics and nothing else.
As their organizations grew and acquired knowledge it is true that
these petitioners who did humbly pray began to straighten their
backs a little, the while they wrestled with the kinks that were
bothering them from too much stooping. It was a sort of chiropractic
process for the alleviation of growing painsthe discovery of the
proper nerve to ask and receive, to seek and find. As the People grew
more accustomed to the sound of their own Voice it was only natural
that the quaver of timidity began to disappear from the tones of it and
that their speech grew stronger in the Legislative Halls dedicated to
government of, by and for them. The Backbone of His Country set out
to prove that he was not spineless, merely disjointed. And as he gained
confidence in his vertebrae the Farmer began to sit up and take
noticebegan even to entertain the bold idea of getting eventually
upon his feet.
The intention was laudable. To make it audible he assembled a
platform, stood up on it, and argued. His protests could be heard clean
to the back of the Hall. Like the young elephant whose trunk was being
stretched by the crocodile, he said: You are hurting me! In the
nose-pulling game of Party Politics as it too often has been played, it
sometimes takes a lusty holler to make itself heard above all the other
hollering that is going on; if getting a hearing is playing politics,
then the Grain Growers have run up a pretty good score.
They began with various amendments to the Grain Act. These included
the famous car distribution clause, the farmer's right to a car and
his procedure to obtain it and additional cars as he needed them, the
provision of penalties for the purchase or sale of car rights, etc.
Opposition to some of these amendments was keen and the farmers had to
fight constantly; when they were not fighting for necessary amendments
they were fighting to retain those already secured. Constant vigilance
was required. Many delegations of Grain Growers visited Ottawa from
time to time to plead for improvement of conditions in handling grain,
more equitable inspection methods, government ownership and operation
of terminal facilities and so on.
Each year the annual conventions of the various associations in
Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta grew in size and importance; each
year the Grain Growers' knowledge expanded, much of it gained by
marketing experience. From these Farmers' Parliaments and the pages
of the Grain Growers' Guide they drew inspiration for many
radical ideas and threshed them out into well defined policies. By the
time Sir Wilfrid Laurier, then Premier of Canada, ventured West in 1910
the farmers were pretty well posted on national topics. Everywhere he
went he faced thousands of ruddy, big-fisted men who read addresses to
him and did a lot of extemporaneous talking which was no less forceful
and complete than the prepared briefs.
Six or eight hundred of them followed him back to Ottawa in December
of that same year and laid siege to the Government on its own
stamping-ground. It was the most remarkable red-seal record of the
Voice from the Soil that hitherto had been known thereabouts. In order
that there might be no doubt as to the planks on which they stood, the
Grain Growers assembled a platform in full view of the audience.
We want reciprocal Free Trade between Canada and the United States
in all horticultural, agricultural and animal products, declared the
farmers; also in spraying materials and fertilizers; illuminating,
fuel and lubricating oils; cement, fish and lumber.
We want reciprocal Free Trade between the two countries in all
agricultural implements, machinery, vehicles and parts of each of
these. We want it carried into effect through the independent action of
the respective Governments rather than by the hard and fast
requirements of a treaty.
We want the duties on all British goods lowered to one-half the
rates charged under the general tariff schedule, whatever that may be.
Also, we want any trade advantages given to the United States in
reciprocal trade relations to be extended to Great Britain.
We want such further gradual reduction of the remaining
preferential tariff as will ensure the establishment of complete free
trade between Canada and the Mother Land within ten years. We're
willing to face direct taxation, in such form as may be advisable, to
make up the revenue required under new tariff conditions.
This bunch wants the whole earth! cried the Canadian Manufacturers
Sub-soil and all! nodded the Railways.
Certainly they're plowing deep, commented the Banks.
To eradicate weeds, admitted the Farmers.
Damn it all, anyway! worried the Politicians.
To show that they were talking neither Tory nor Grit, the Western
farmers proceeded to waylay the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. R. L.
Borden, the following year when he in turn decided to Go West. He,
too, came face to face with thousands of ruddy, big-fisted men and
listened to their equally plain-spoken addresses, prepared and
And what came of it all? Did these farmers get what they wanted?
But while all this agitation of the Grain Growers one time and
another seldom has resulted in assent to their full requests, certain
compliances have been made on different occasions with beneficial
results. For instanceto mention threethe Royal Grain Commission of
1906, the permanent Grain Commission, and the Government Terminal
Elevators are an outcome of various requests and delegations of the
Certainly the organized farmers of Western Canada have attained a
measure of self-confidence which enables them to declare themselves in
definite language. While seeking wider markets and the real value of
their products, they have been opposed always to any scheme which
accomplishes higher prices at the expense of the consumer or of the
British workman. They do not believe in import duties on food stuffs,
clothing, fuel or building material. Rather do they favor bringing
closer together the producer and consumer to the advantage of both.
They believe in cheaper money for the development of agriculture and
other industries and in such utilization of natural resources that the
homes of the people may be improved.
They have stood consistently behind woman suffrage and the abolition
of the liquor traffic. They would adopt direct legislation through the
Initiative and Referendum. They believe in the principles of
Co-Operation in buying and selling. They have urged extension of the
parcel post system, the reduction of traffic charges to a reasonable
basis, Government control of waterways and all natural resources that
they may be developed only in the public interest.
Does a creed like this spell class legislation? Does it indicate
that in his eagerness to improve the conditions surrounding his own
life the Grain Grower is forgetting the general welfare of the Dominion
of Canada? Listen to the doctrine which the leaders have inculcated on
every occasionto President T. A. Crerar before the War:
You have a very clear-cut and distinct responsibility in supporting
the whole movement of the organized farmers in Western Canada; for this
means that you are improving not alone your own environment and
condition, but also creating the conditions and influences that will
develop a higher and purer ideal of public service upon the part of our
people than we have in Canada to-day. It should be a source of great
satisfaction that upon all important matters the policies adopted and
supported by the organized farmers in the past have been formed upon
what in their judgment would benefit the country as a whole and not
from the narrow view of selfish interest.
During the past ten years the people of Canada have mortgaged the
prosperity of the future to far too great an extent. Our total
borrowings as a nation, for public and private purposes, have run into
such a colossal sum that it requires about $160,000,000 annually to pay
interest on the amounts borrowed. This constitutes a very heavy task on
a country with about eight millions of a population. Manufacturing
industries have been built up with a view of developing home industry
and furnishing home markets, but often at a very heavy cost to our
agricultural development, with the result that we have been travelling
in a circle, reaching nowhere, rather than along the road that leads to
We hear considerable nowadays of the necessity of a 'Back to the
Land' movement. It is necessary, however, to do a little more than get
people located on the land with a view of increasing agricultural
production. It is necessary to free agriculture from the burdens now
resting upon it and make it the first business of the country.
Much of our natural resources has been recklessly handled, and as a
people we are faced with the necessity of overcoming the evil effects
of our unbusinesslike methods as a nation in administering resources.
If we are to surmount our shortcomings in this respect and pay our
obligations as a nation to the outside world, we must place agriculture
throughout Canada upon a thoroughly sound and profitable basis. The
creation of wealth from our wonderfully rich natural resources, in
which agriculture stands in the forefront, is the essential thing and
should receive most consideration from our Governmentsboth Dominion
We must learn to respect each other's differences and, if we do,
with the development of that democratic spirit which is now day by day
becoming more manifest in Western Canada, we need have no fear of our
usefulness as an agency in bringing about the ultimate triumph of the
principles of justice between man and man.
Listen to President J. A. Maharg, addressing the Saskatchewan Grain
Growers' Association in 1914:
What is wanted is the general recognition by all classes of the
importance of Agriculture and an honest desire by them to assist in
placing it on a basis equal to that of any other industrymaking it an
occupation that will draw people to it instead of driving them away. In
soliciting the aid of other classes I am not asking them to assist us
in gaining any special favors whatever; all we ask is that they assist
us to have Agriculture placed in the position its importance entitles
Hear the President of the United Farmers of Alberta, H. W. Wood:
This is the day of class co-operation. That means inter-class
competition. In this competition of class against class ours is the
losing class at every turn because we have been the least organized,
the least co-operative; consequently the weakest. Before we can hope to
hold our own in this struggle we will have to bring our full strength,
thoroughly organized, to bear in protection of our rights.
I have an abiding faith that the organized farmers will receive
that strength, not selfishly but unselfishly in the defence of the
rights of all and for the spoliation of none. The highest ambition I
have for our organization is that it may develop along the lines of
safety and sanity, that we may hold to a steady determination to go
forward unwaveringly in our efforts till the door of hope and
opportunity is as wide open to the farmers as to any class in the
world, that we may zealously cultivate unselfish co-operation and learn
to treat fairly and justly every man and every class that is giving a
useful service to society.
And this from the Presidential address of R. C. Henders at the last
Manitoba Grain Growers' convention:
In order to have legislation that will be equitable to the
different interests concerned, all of these interests should be
somewhat equally represented in the passing of such legislation. We do
not desire to minimize in any way the great commercial interests of our
people, yet we feel that the work of our associations is educational
and legislative in its character. Democratic rule requires that the
average citizen be an active, instructed and intelligent ruler of his
country and therefore the success of democracy depends upon the
education of the people along two principal linesfirst, political
knowledge; second, and what is of far more importance, political
morality. Ideal government is found when we have righteous rulers
governing a people of character and intelligence. Right education is
right thinking and right thinking can only come through accurate
Now, is all this preaching of the men who are leading the farmers
just so much talk?chaff?prairie wind?
If not, what lies back of it? The farmers have an organization which
meets every so-often to harmonize and crystallize the thought among
their various associations and business units. It is that same Canadian
Council of Agriculture which has been mentioned already. It consists of
the executive committees of eight farmers' co-operative, business and
educational institutions, to wit: The United Farmers of Ontario, The
United Farmers' Co-Operative Company of Ontario, The Grain Growers'
Association of Manitoba, United Grain Growers (of the entire West), The
Grain Growers' Association of Saskatchewan, The Saskatchewan
Co-Operative Elevator Company, The United Farmers of Alberta, and the
Grain Growers' Guide, the official organ of the whole movement.
At a meeting of this influential body in Winnipeg in December,
1916representing an affiliation of 60,000 farmersa National
Political Platform was adopted to embrace economic, political and
social reforms not alone in the interests of the farmers but of
Canada's citizens generally. The farmers are looking for the support of
all who live in cities and towns as well as the rural districts; of
organized Labor as well as organized farmers.
This platform was referred to the provincial organizations which
stand behind the Canadian Council of Agriculture. It was considered by
each of the provincial boards and by them referred in turn to the three
thousand local community associations into which the members are
organized. Each Local was asked to call a meeting to consider the
platform and vote upon its adoption. The next step was for the members
to give their votes and financial support only to such candidates for
the House of Commons as would pledge support of this National Platform
in its entirety and who could be relied upon as Members of Parliament
to live up to their pledges.
And here is the National Political Platform on which the farmers
stand without equivocation:
THE CUSTOMS TARIFF
WHEREAS the war has revealed the amazing financial strength of Great
Britain, which has enabled her to finance not only her own part in the
struggle, but also to assist in financing her Allies to the extent of
hundreds of millions of pounds, this enviable position being due to the
free trade policy which has enabled her to draw her supplies freely
from every quarter of the globe and consequently to undersell her
competitors on the world's markets, and because this policy has not
only been profitable to Great Britain but has greatly strengthened the
bonds of Empire by facilitating trade between the Motherland and her
overseas Dominionswe believe that the best interests of the Empire
and of Canada would be served by reciprocal action on the part of
Canada through gradual reductions of the tariff on British imports,
having for its object a closer union and a better understanding between
Canada and the Motherland, and by so doing not only strengthen the
hands of Great Britain in the life and death struggle in which she is
now engaged, but at the same time bring about a great reduction in the
cost of living to our Canadian people;
AND WHEREAS the protective tariff has fostered combines, trusts and
gentlemen's agreements in almost every line of Canadian industrial
enterprise, by means of which the people of Canadaboth urban and
ruralhave been shamefully exploited through the elimination of
competition, the ruination of many of our smaller industries and the
advancement of prices on practically all manufactured goods to the full
extent permitted by the tariff;
AND WHEREAS agriculturethe basic industry upon which the success
of all other industries primarily dependsis almost stagnant
throughout Canada as shown by the declining rural population in both
Eastern and Western Canada, due largely to the greatly increased cost
of agricultural implements and machinery, clothing, boots and shoes,
building material and practically everything the farmer has to buy,
caused by the protective tariff, so that it is becoming impossible for
farmers generally to carry on farming operations profitably;
AND WHEREAS the protective tariff is the most wasteful and costly
method ever designed for raising national revenue, because for every
dollar obtained thereby for the public treasury at least three dollars
pass into the pockets of the protected interests, thereby building up a
privileged class at the expense of the masses, thus making the rich
richer and the poor poorer;
AND WHEREAS the protective tariff has been and is a chief corrupting
influence in our national life because the protected interests, in
order to maintain their unjust privileges, have contributed lavishly to
political and campaign funds, thus encouraging both political parties
to look to them for support, thereby lowering the standard of public
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Canadian Council of Agriculture,
representing the organized farmers of Canada, urges that as a means of
bringing about these much needed reforms and at the same time reducing
the high cost of living, now proving such a burden on the people of
Canada, our tariff laws should be amended as follows:
(1) By reducing the customs duty on goods imported from Great
Britain to one half the rates charged under the general tariff and that
further gradual, uniform reductions be made in the remaining tariff on
British imports that will ensure complete free trade between Great
Britain and Canada in five years.
(2) That the Reciprocity Agreement of 1911, which still remains on
the United States statute books, be accepted by the Parliament of
(3) That all food stuffs not included in the Reciprocity Agreement
be placed on the free list.
(4) That agricultural implements, farm machinery, vehicles,
fertilizer, coal, lumber, cement, illuminating fuel and lubricating
oils be placed on the free list.
(5) That the customs tariff on all the necessaries of life be
(6) That all tariff concessions granted to other countries be
immediately extended to Great Britain.
TAXATION FOR REVENUE
As these tariff reductions will very considerably reduce the
national revenue derived from that source, the Canadian Council of
Agriculture would recommend that in order to provide the necessary
additional revenue for carrying on the government of the country and
for the prosecution of the war to a successful conclusion, direct
taxation be imposed in the following manner:
(1) By a direct tax on unimproved land values, including all natural
(2) By a sharply graduated personal income tax.
(3) By a heavy graduated inheritance tax on large estates.
(4) By a graduated income tax on the profits of corporations.
OTHER NECESSARY REFORMS
The Canadian Council of Agriculture desires to endorse also the
following policies as in the best interests of the people of Canada:
(1) The nationalization of all railway, telegraph and express
(2) That no more natural resources be alienated from the Crown but
brought into use only under short term leases, in which the interests
of the public shall be properly safeguarded, such leases to be granted
only by public auction.
(3) Direct legislation, including the initiative and referendum and
the right of recall.
(4) Publicity of political campaign fund contributions and
expenditures both before and after elections.
(5) The abolition of the patronage system.
(6) Full provincial autonomy in liquor legislation, including
manufacture, export and import.
(7) That the extension of the franchise to women in any province
shall automatically admit them to the federal franchise.
That is the official stand of the farmers and they point out that
their political platform is constructive, not destructive. The
farmers are not trying to sidestep their fair share of the expenses in
connection with government and public institutions; where they have
torn down they have rebuilt.
Admitting that the prosperity of Western Canada is essential to our
national prosperity, it is not necessary to look far in order to
understand why the farmers have taken this definite action. Western
farmers and citizens generally are carrying extra burdens which offset
the advantages of cheap and fertile land. Interest on mortgages and
bank loans have been higher than in Eastern Canada. It is more
expensive to distribute commodities West than East. On account of the
lavish donations of Western lands to railway promoters the cost of
railway construction has borne heavily on the West. Freight rates are
about sixty per cent. higher and express rates about sixty-six per
cent. higher than in Eastern Canada. Thanks to the protective tariff,
Western people are paying high for everything they get without any
Something has to be done to lift some of these unjust burdens, say
the farmers, if a prosperous country is to be developed West of the
Hence this platform. The Western farmers believe in it earnestly. It
is their politics. They believe that the results which would follow its
support in the House of Commons would be of untold benefit to the
Canadian people as a whole. They will continue to believe it.
When the crisis arose which brought about the last election, in
which Union Government swept the West, the farmers saw the gravity of
the situation and were prepared to forego immediate discussion of
tariff amendments to concentrate on winning the war. Some of the
farmers' candidates even withdrew in favor of Union candidates. All
those who remained in the field were elected.
After the war is wonwhat? Reforms of breathtaking sweep are taking
place as the natural outcome of current conditions. The liquor traffic
has been tossed aside like a useless boot. Woman has stepped forth to a
sphere of active worth without upheaval. Just where lie the boundaries
of the impossible and who shall define them?
It is a far-seeing, clear-thinking New Farmer who has come forward
in the last decade. Through his associations, his marketing
experiences, his contact with railways and banks and manufacturers and
governments he has become a student of economics. At the same time he
has strengthened his thews and sinews for whatever may face him on the
And his eyes are wide open to the fact that there are lions in the
Wait a minute, Mr. Business Man! Before condemning this Western
farmer out of hand, put yourself in his place and try for a moment in
all fairness to forget your own viewpoint. It may be that you have not
even seen the prairies. Have you ever been at sea with not a thing in
sight but water, sky, horizon? Imagine the water to be land, and
yourself living in a one-room shack or a little low sod hut bewhiskered
with growing grass. The nearest railway was fifty miles away and you
got so lonesome that the howl of a coyote or the cry of owls in the
night nearly drove you crazy. Neighbors so scarce your social pleasures
were cut off by distance and you reared your family on that homestead
twenty-five miles from a doctor, a church or a school.
When you made the long trip in for supplies in those early days you
found you had to pay anywhere up to twice as much as their market value
while for what you had to sell you had to take from twenty-five to
fifty per cent. less than the market value. The implements you simply
had to have for your work you bought on the instalment plan with
interest at ten and twelve per cent. for the privilege.
When you had survived three years of this and with high hopes took
your patent to the mortgage company to raise a loan at ten per cent.
you found you couldn't get accommodation. Thereupon in marched your
implement and other creditors with a chattel mortgage on everything you
hadexcept the missus and the kids and the baby's bottley-by!
Then in the beautiful hot month of August it blew up black one day
and the chickens scurried for shelter and you and the wife stood with
your noses flattened against the window-paneunless it was only oiled
paperand watched the big ice-marbles bouncing and heard the hail
drumming flat in a few minutes the acres of wheat you had worked so
hard to produce.
Or perhaps you escaped that time only to have your wheat frozen
later on and when you took three days on purpose to haul in a wagonload
to the elevator you couldn't get a decent offer for it. So that you
pulled off your mitts and clenched your frost-cracked hands as you
prepared to turn homeward with but a pitiful portion of the food and
clothing you had promised the family you would bring. As you spread
across your chest, inside your sheepskin coat, the old newspaper
somebody had given you would your soul expand with the joy of living
while you headed out into the snowy waste at forty degrees below zero?
And if after you got home and the crying young ones had been put to
bed in the corner behind the canvas curtain and your wife came and sat
beside you, her own tears bravely driedif then you read in the paper
that the Government had decided you farmers were so prosperous you
should contribute from your easily gained wealth a free gift to
manufacturers, financiers, railway magnates or othersthen would you
say with a great booming, hearty enthusiasm and shining eyes: I tell
you, Wife, this is the life!would you?
Or would you just proceed to swearnaturally, successfully, in what
is known as flowing language?
By just such pioneer hardships were the farmers of Western Canada
driven to organize in self-defence. It has ever been the history of
revolt that its wellspring was the suffering of the people. Pioneer
hardships it was that caused the various movements which agitated the
farmers of the Western States in earlier days. When fingers become
hardened and crooked from unceasing toil that achieves nothing but
premature old age; when hope withers in a treadmill that grinds to the
very soulthen comes rebellion.
 Since the formation of the organized farmers' National Political
Platform several of its planks have been adopted as legislation at
Ottawa, notably the abolition of the patronage system, extension of the
franchise to women, total prohibition, and personal income taxation.
CHAPTER XXIV. AND THE END IS NOT
The principle of co-operation draws the whole community together. It
breaks down barriers. It unites the State. It gives hope to the
humblest toiler. And it strengthens the great moral ideal of duty,
without which no State can endure.Earl Grey.
What is to be the final outcome of the Western farmers' revolt and
its spread to rural communities in Eastern provinces? Is there to be
greater harmony among opposing interests or is Canada on the threshold
of internal strife which will plow deep furrows of dissension between
class and class to an extent hitherto unknown in this country? If there
is to be a pitched fight between capitalistic groups and the people at
large, led by the farmers, what are the chances of victory for the
latter? If they win, what will be the national effect?
These were a few of the questions which first turned the writer's
serious attention to the Grain Growers. It seems scarcely credible that
this great economic movement has attained present momentum practically
unheralded; yet such is the case. The writer had watched its early
struggles to success from Government windows and as preparation for a
brief historical sketch it seemed desirable to get out among the
farmers themselves and study the situation from their angle.
Frankly, the task was not approached without some skepticism as to
the motives which might be uncovered. Almost the only occasions on
which the Grain Growers revealed themselves to the public were when
they waited upon politicians for this, that or the other. So often did
this happen and so insistent were they that there seemed some grounds
for the belief that to satisfy a Grain Grower was humanly impossible.
From Legislative casements it even looked at times as if they were a
new species of Indian, collecting political scalps! All manner of
people accused them of all manner of things. In the East they were
called blacksmith-shop politicians, nail-keg economists, grousers and
soreheads; in the West they were dubbed corner-grocer statesmen and
political football players.
When the caravans of the Eastern political chieftains, Liberal and
Conservative, came West they knew they were going to be held up by the
outlaws. Long before these respective expeditions started across the
plains infested with wild and dangerous Grain Growers, their
scoutsthe Western M.P.'swere ranging far and wide in preparation.
And when those Grain Growers in turn rode East to take possession of
Ottawa there was a popular expectation that they were about to whoop in
and shoot up the town in the real old wild and woolly way. They were
referred to cleverly as Sod-Busters. It was rather startling to find
them merely a new type of Business Farmer, trained to think on his
feet, a student of economics.
To gather and verify the facts here recorded has required two years.
During that time the writer has listened to earnest farmers in prairie
shacks, pioneers and newcomers, leaders and followers, and has watched
these farmers at work in their Farmers' Parliaments where they
assemble annually by the thousands. It is impossible thus to meet and
know these men while examining the facts of their accomplishments
without being impressed by the tremendous potentialities that underlie
Almost the first discovery is that the organized farmers have ideals
beyond material advantage and that these ideals are national in scope,
therefore involving responsibilities. Undeterred by these, the farmers
are eager to push on to further achievements. Their hope for these
ideals lies in the success of their business undertakings and it is
because that success is the spinal column of the whole movement that it
occupies such a prominent place in this historical outline.
Not all the Grain Growers are men of vision, it must be admitted.
Many have joined the movement for what they can get out of it. In all
great aggregations of human beings it is quite possible to discover the
full gamut of human failings. But loose threads sticking to a piece of
cloth are no part of its warp and woof. It is the thinking Grain Grower
who must be reckoned with and he is in the majority; the others are
If there is doubt as to the sincerity of the organized farmers, why
did their pioneer business agency spend its substance in educational
directions instead of solely along the straight commercial lines of the
concerns with which it was in competition? The very mould into which it
poured its energies shaped special difficulties, generated special
antagonisms and every possible obstruction to its progress. Its cash
grants to the Associations in the West, to the official organ of the
movement, even to the Ontario farmers, run over the
Or, take the case of the Grain Growers at Virden, Manitoba, who
proposed to bring into the district a large shipment of binder twine to
supply their members. When the local merchant who had been handling
this necessity learned of the plan he raised his voice, thus:
If you fellows are going to do that then I go out of binder twine
this season. I won't handle a pound of it.
Not even to supply the farmers who don't belong to our
That's what I said. You're going to make a convenience of me when
you rob me of all my cash business. The only business I could do would
be with farmers who wanted credit.
Did the Grain Growers say: That's their lookout, then. Let them
join us or go twineless? No. They decided to bring in their
co-operative shipment as planned, but to allow the merchant to handle
it on commission in order to prevent any injustice to the other
Incidents like that can be recorded from all over the country. It
does not take very many of them to compel the honest conviction that
equity of citizenship for all the people in every walk of life means
more to these farmers than a high-sounding shibboleth. That being so,
it becomes difficult to accept the slur of utter selfishnessthe idea
that the farmers are auto-intoxicated, a pig-headed lot who cause
trouble for nothing. It is very hard to believe that Everybody Else is
good and kind and sincere and true, affectionate one to another with
brotherly love, not slothful in business; for one knows that the best
of us need the prayers of our mothers!
When these Grain Growers started out they did not know very much
about what was going on. They had their suspicions; but that was all.
To-day they know. Their business activities have taught them many
things while providing the resources for the fight that is shaping
unless the whole monopolistic system lets go its stranglehold.
Yes, the farmers do talk about freedom in buying and selling; also
about tariff reform. They point out that there are criminal laws to
jail bankers who dared to charge from twenty-five per cent. to
forty-two per cent. for the use of money; that food and clothing and
the necessaries of life are the same as money and that high tariff
protection which fosters combines and monopolies is official
discrimination against the many in favor of the few; that there are
other and more just forms of taxation and that all old systems of
patronage and campaign funds have got to go if the grave problems of
these grave times are to be met successfully.
It is no old-time Hayseed who is discussing these things. It is a
New Farmer altogether. The Farmers' Movement is no fancy of the moment
either, but the product of Time itself. It is a condition which has
developed in our rural life as the corolla of increased opportunities
for education. The Farmer to-day is a different man to what he was ten
years agoindeed, five years ago.
It has taken fifteen years of bitter struggle for the Western
farmers to win to their present position and now that they are far
enough along their Trail to Better Things to command respect they are
going to say what they think without fear or favor. They believe the
principles for which they stand to be fundamental to national progress.
If there is to be any attempt to cram the old order of things down
the people's throats; if, under cloak of all this present talk of
winning the war, of new eras and of patriotism, profiteers should
scheme and plan fresh campaignsthen will there be such a wrathful
rising of the people as will sweep everything before it. In the
forefront of that battle will stand the rugged legions of the organized
Make no miscalculation of their ability to fight. This year, 1918,
will see them sawing their own lumber in their own saw-mills in British
Columbia. If necessary, they can grind their own flour in their own
flour mills, dig their own coal from their own mines, run their own
packing-plants, provide their own fidelity and fire-insurance, finance
their own undertakings. They grow the grain. They produce the new
wealth from the soil. They are the men who create our greatest asset,
everything else revolving upon the axis of Agriculture in Canada.
If, then, the farming population has learned to co-operate and stand
solid; if in addition they have acquired the necessary capital to
educate the masses and are prepared to spend it in advancing their
ideals; if the working classes of the cities and the soldier citizens
of Coming Days join their rankswhat chance will Special Privilege
have against the public desire for Equal Rights?
Is it to be co-operation in all sincerity or class warfare? If the
other great interests in our national life will meet the Farmer in a
fair spirit, approaching our national problems in an honest attempt to
co-operate in their solution for the common good, they will find the
Farmer meeting them eagerly. They will find that these farmer leaders
are reasonable men, broad-minded, square-principled and justno less
so because the class they represent is organized to stand up for its
The situation is not hopeless. Most of these pages we have been
turning are Back Pages. Old conditions and much of the bitterness which
they generated have passed. The story of those old conditions has been
told from the viewpoint of the Farmer in order that his attitude may be
understood. But it must be remembered that the grain trade to-day is a
very different proposition to what it was and that many of the men who
have devoted their lives to it in the cities have played a big and
honest part in its development. The Winnipeg Grain Exchange as an
Exchange has done a great deal for Western Canada, a point that
undoubtedly has been overlooked by many farmers. Gradually, however,
the Farmer has learned that all is not evil in Babylon; for out of
revolution has come evolution.
The key to that better future which is desired so earnestly and
wisely is Education. The problems of the day are commanding the mental
focus of the nation. The Banks, the Railways, the Manufacturers are
considering them. The Joint Committee of Commerce and Agriculture has
great opportunities for removing much old-time hostility on both sides.
And now that true co-operation of all classes has become a national
duty, surely out of the testing must come better understanding and a
Just now, of course, there is only the War. It has brought the
Canadian people to their feet. For the angry glare of the gun flashes
has thrown in silhouette many fallacies, many foibles and rubbish
heaps, and these must be swept out in preparation for the new
nationhood which Canada is called upon to assume. With a third of the
entire British Empire entrusted to her management and the hopeful gaze
of homemakers the world over turning upon her Canada's responsibilities
are great. But she will rise to her opportunities.
Just now there is only the War. The history of mankind has no
previous record of such chaos, such a solemn time. Thrones toppling,
maps changing, whole peoples dying of starvation and misery while the
fate of Democracy is balanced on the issue. Men are slaying each other
on land, in the air, on the water and below it while the forces of
Destruction are gnawing holes in the World's resources with the
rapacity of swarming rats. It is costing Great Britain alone over
thirty-five million dollars every daya million and a half every hour!
As for Canadamuch figuring is being done by experts and others in
attempts to estimate the total debt which the Canadian people will have
to carry after the war. But the people themselves are too far immersed
in war efforts to pause for futile reckonings. There will be time
enough for that when the war is won, and won it shall be, no matter
what the cost. It requires no great perspicacity to realize that our
total national debt will be a sum which rolls so easily on its ciphers
that it eludes the grasp of the average mind. It is going to cost a lot
even to keep the wheels greased at five and one-half per cent. from
year to year. Everybody knows it. Win the War!
When the lamp went out and the old world we had known blew upaway
back in 1914we spagged about anxiously, calling to each other:
Business as Usual! Since then factory production has gone up fifty
per cent.; export trade a hundred; profits on capital all the way up to
the billion-and-a-quarter mark. We have got so used to things in four
years that there is danger of forgetting that War has driven a sap
beneath these ironical gifts of Mars and it is full time Business
looked around for a place to light and got ready to dig itself in.
Mobilization, co-operation of every interest, the full grapple of
every individualnational effort, in shortthese the State demands.
The coverlet has been thrown back upon the realization that the State
has claims upon each citizen which transcend his individual
fortunesthat individual prosperity, in fact, is entirely dependent
upon the prosperity of the national whole.
Not all by himself can the Man Behind The Gun win a war like this.
At his heels must stand the munition workers, the Man Back of The Desk,
the people themselves, each guarding against waste and each
contributing his or her part, great or small, for that national economy
which alone can hope to sustain the terrific pace that victory demands.
Finally, out in the great open spaces, faithful and unassuming and
backing his country to the limit, must plod the Man Behind The Plow,
working silently and steadily from dawn till dark to enlist and
re-enlist the horizoned acres.
Canada has reason for pride in her farmers. No class is more loyal
to British traditions. No class is more determined to win this war.
Thousands of their sons are at the front. Many a lonely mother has
stood on a prairie knoll, straining her eyes for the last glimpse of
the buggy and bravely waving God-speed. In many a windswept prairie
farm home reigns the sad pride of sacrifice.
Out of the sanctifying fires is arising a national tendency to new
viewpoints. The hope of Canada lies in a more active participation in
affairs by the Average Citizen. In opposition to an awakened national
interest what chance is there going to be for the silent partnerships
of invisible government? 'Twill be a sorry partizan who allows his
thoughts at this crisis to patter away at that old practice line, so
full of past mistakes: Now is the time for all good men to come to the
aid of the Party.
Win-the-War unity is the leaven at work in Canada to-day and
regeneration is coming.
What does it matter except that our country's leaders shall rise to
their opportunities for true statesmanship with a deep sense of their
responsibilities to the millions who turn to them for guidance in this
time of national stress? What does it matter except that the people
shall grant to their leaders their sympathy and co-operation in the
cares of crisis?
As this book goes to the publisher Union Government in Canada has
become a fact. Not since Confederation has such a thing happened in
this country. The vampire methods with which our political system has
been cursed have been thrown under foot and thinking Canadians
everywhere have drawn a breath of relief. The energies which have been
wasted in jockeying for party position are now concentrating upon
effective unity of action. Let us hope so indeed. There must be no want
of confidence in the cheers which echo from Canadian trenches.
For over there where Canada's first line of defence runs from the
North Sea through Belgium into France your boy, Mr. Business Man, and
your boy, Mr. Farmer, stand shoulder to shoulder. Think you that in the
crucible which bares the very souls of men those boys have any thought
of class criticism or of selfish grabbings? In those trenches you will
find more practical Christianity, more unselfishness, more true
brotherhood than can be realized at this distance. The spirit of
sacrifice, the help-one-another idea, the equal share and charity of
thoughtthese revitalizing principles will be brought back by our
khaki citizens when they march home from victory. It is past belief
that there should be anything but complete unity of purpose as they
look back for their country's supports.
A coat of arms on the red field of a British flag, a maple leaf on
khaki cap or collar-band, a single name on every
shoulder-strapCANADA. All the nations of the earth salute that name.
For it is emblazoned on the shell-churned fields of Ypres where,
sweltering and bleeding, Canada saved the day for all humanity. It is
inscribed for all time to come on the Sommeon Vimy Ridgeon the
difficult slopes of Passchendaele.
Just now, only the War.
But when in the Years To Be we find ourselves in some far land or in
some international circle which Chance, mayhap, has thrown together;
when the talk turns upon the Great War and the wonderful victory of
Civilization; when we are questioned as to who and what we are and we
reply simply: Gentlemen, I am a Canadian
Then may the light of pride in our eyes be undimmed by any sense of
shame for duty shunned. May it be that out of it all has arisen a
higher conception of individual and national life. So that in place of
deep furrows of dissension there will be the level seed-bed of greater
unity and justice among men.
 Abnormal conditions in the grain trade at present, due to the
war, have led to government control of the crop by means of a Board of
Grain Supervisors, aside altogether from the permanent Board of Grain
Commissioners. This government commission has very wide powers,
superseding the Grain Act for the time being, and can fix the price at
which grain stored in any elevator may be purchased, ascertain
available supplies, fix conditions of removal from storage and
determine the destination of grain, receive purchase offers and fix
sale prices, take possession of grain in elevators and sell it, provide
The Board of Grain Supervisors consists of two representatives of
the organized farmersHon. T. A. Crerar, Minister of Agriculture, and
H. W. Wood, President of United Farmers of Alberta; one representative
of unorganised farmersS. K. Rathwell; three representatives of the
Winnipeg Grain ExchangeJ. C. Gage, W. E. Bawlf and Dr. Magill
(Chairman); a representative of the British Food CommissionJas.
Stewart; two representatives of LaborController Ainey (Montreal) and
W. B. Best, of Locomotive Firemen; W. A. Matheson, of Lake of the Woods
Milling Company, and Lionel H. Clarke, head of the Canada Malting
Company and a member of the Toronto Harbor Commission. Dr. Robert
Magill, the Chairman, is Secretary of the Winnipeg Grain Exchange and
was formerly Chief Commissioner of the permanent Board of Grain
FIRST OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, COMMITTEES, ETC., OF THE FARMERS'
MOVEMENT IN WESTERN CANADA, ETC.
1. Territorial (Saskatchewan) Grain Growers'
President, W. R. Motherwell (Abernethy); Secretary, John Millar
(Indian Head). Among those who acted on the first Board of Directors
were: Messrs. Walter Govan and M. M. Warden (Indian Head); John
Gillespie, Elmer Shaw and Peter Dayman (Abernethy); Matthew Snow
2. Virden (Manitoba) Grain Growers' Association1903.
President, J. W. Scallion; Vice-president, George Carefoot;
Secretary-Treasurer, H. W. Dayton; Directors: J. A. Blakeman, Isaac
Bennett, Peter McDonald and C. E. Ivens.
3. Manitoba Grain Growers' Association1903.
President, J. W. Scallion (Virden); Vice-President, R. C. Henders
(Culross); Secretary-Treasurer, R. McKenzie (Brandon); Directors:
Donald McEwan, Brandon; William Ryan (Boissevain), W. A. Robinson
(Elva), D. W. McCuaig (Portage la Prairie), John Wilson (Lenore), and
H. A. Fraser, Hamiota.
4. Committee to Investigate Possibilities of Farmers Trading in
The first step towards co-operative trading in grain by the farmers
of Western Canada was a scheme, fathered by E. A. Partridge, of
Sintaluta, Sask., the first official action being taken by the Manitoba
Grain Growers' Association at their annual convention in 1905, when the
following committee was ordered to investigate and report:
Chairman, E. A. Partridge (Sintaluta, Sask.); J. A. Taylor
(Cartwright, Man.); A. S. Barton (Boissevain, Man.).
5. Local Committee to Organise Meeting of Sintaluta Farmers1906.
The following committee of Sintaluta farmers made arrangements for a
meeting of the farmers in the Sintaluta district to discuss
co-operative trading in grain and to pledge support of the trading
company proposed by E. A. Partridge:
E. A. Partridge, Al Quigley, Dave Railton, W. J. Bonner, T. McLeod,
6. Preliminary Organisation Committee of Sintaluta Farmers1906.
E. A. Partridge (Chairman), A. J. Quigley (Secretary), William Hall
(Treasurer), James Halford, James Ewart, D. Railton, Sr., J. O.
Partridge, William J. Bonner, Thomas S. McLeod, W. Malhiot, H. O.
Partridge, G. K. Grass, Harold Bird, H. T. Smith, George Hillall of
Subsequently this committee was enlarged to include a number of
7. Provisional Officers of Grain Growers' Grain Company1906.
Provisional organization of the Western farmers' pioneer trading
company finally took place at Winnipeg, July 26th, 1906, when the
following officers were chosen:
President, E. A. Partridge; Vice-President, John Kennedy;
Secretary-Treasurer, John Spencer; Directors: W. A. Robinson (Elva,
Man.), and Francis Graham (Melita, Man.).
At a general meeting of the shareholders these same officers were
elected subsequently and the directorate increased by twoRobert
Cruise (Dauphin) and T. W. Knowles (Emerson).
8. Sintaluta (Sask.) Farmers Who Pledged Personal
Finding themselves $1,500 short of the necessary $2,500 for the
purchase of a seat on the Winnipeg Grain Exchange, the young trading
company of farmers had recourse to personal securities in order to
finance their start in business. The friends to whom E. A. Partridge
appealed and who immediately gave the bank their personal notes were
the following Sintaluta men:
Dave Railton, Al Quigley, Tom McLeod, Jim Ewart, William E. Hall.
9. Inter-Provincial Council of Grain Growers' and Farmers'
It was under this name that the executive officers of the various
farmers' organizations in the three Prairie Provinces first came
together to discuss problems affecting the Movement as a whole. The
first officers of the Inter-Provincial Council were:
President, E. N. Hopkins (Moose Jaw, Sask.); Secretary, M. D. Geddes
10. United Farmers of Alberta1909.
Until January 14th, 1909, the farmers of Alberta had two provincial
organizationsthe Canadian Society of Equity and the Alberta
Farmers' Association. On this date amalgamation took place at Edmonton
under the name, United Farmers of Alberta with officers and directors
President, James Bower (Red Deer); Vice-President, Rice Sheppard
(Strathcona); Secretary, Edward J. Fream (Calgary); Directors: G. A.
Dixon (Fishburn), A. Von Mielecki (Calgary), George McDonald (Olds),
George Long (Edmonton), Thomas Balaam (Vegreville), L. H. Jelliffe
(Spring Coulee), E. Carswell (Penhold), H. Jamieson (Red Deer).
11. Canadian Council of Agriculture1910.
The name of the Inter-Provincial Council (Par. 9) was changed to the
Canadian Council of Agriculture in 1909 when relations were
established with The Grange, the early organization of Ontario farmers.
The first officers of the new inter-provincial body were:
President, D. W. McCuaig (Portage la Prairie, Man.); Vice-president,
James Bower (Red Deer, Alberta); Secretary, E. C. Drury (Barrie, Ont.).
12. Saskatchewan Co-Operative Elevator Company1911.
Provisional Officers: President, J. A. Maharg (Moose Jaw);
Vice-president, F. W. Green (Moose Jaw); Secretary-Treasurer, Charles
A. Dunning (Beaverdale); Directors: A. G. Hawkes (Percival), James
Robinson (Walpole), Dr. T. Hill (Kinley).
Upon early withdrawal of F. W. Green for personal reasons, George
Langley (Maymont) was called by the Board in an advisory capacity.
First Election: President, J. A. Maharg (Moose Jaw);
Vice-President, George Langley (Maymont); Secretary-Treasurer, Charles
A. Dunning (Beaverdale); Directors: James Robinson (Walpole), W. C.
Sutherland (Saskatoon), N. E. Baumunk (Dundurn), A. G. Hawkes
(Percival), J. E. Paynter (Tantallon), Dr. E. J. Barrick.
13. Alberta Farmers' Co-Operative Elevator Company1913.
Provisional Officers: President, W. J. Tregillus (Calgary);
Vice-President, E. Carswell (Red Deer); Secretary-Treasurer, E. J.
Fream (Calgary); Directors: Joseph Quinsey (Noble), William S. Henry
(Bow Island), Rice Sheppard (Edmonton), P. P. Woodbridge (Calgary).
First Election: President, W. J. Tregillus; Vice-president,
J. Quinsey (Noble); Secretary-Treasurer, E. J. Fream (Calgary);
Directors: E. Carswell (Red Deer), Rice Sheppard (Edmonton), P. S.
Austin (Ranfurly), J. G. McKay (Provost), R. A. Parker (Winnifred), C.
14. United Farmers of Ontario1914.
Organisation Committee1913: E. C. Drury (Barrie), J. J.
Morrison (Arthur), Henry Glendinning (Manilla), Elmer Lick (Oshawa), H.
B. Cowan (Peterboro), W. C. Good (Paris), Col. J. Z. Frazer (Burford).
First Election of Officers1914: President, E. C. Drury
(Barrie); Secretary-Treasurer, J. J. Morrison (Arthur).
15. United Farmers' Co-Operative Company, Limited1914.
President, W. C. Good (Paris); Secretary-Treasurer, J. J. Morrison
(Arthur); Executive: Anson Groh (Preston), C. W. Gurney (Paris), Col.
J. Z. Fraser (Burford), E. C. Drury (Barrie).
16. United Farmers of British Columbia1917.
Provisional Committee (Vancouver Island Farmers' Union)
1916: Chairman, R. M. Palmer (Cowichan Bay); Secretary-Treasurer, W.
Paterson (Duncan); H. G. Helgesen (Metchosin), G. A. Cheeke (Shawnigan
Lake), A. E. Brooke Wilkinson (Cobble Hill), E. H. Forrest (Hillbank),
F. J. Bishop (Cowichan Station), G. H. Hadwen (Comiaken), C. G. Palmer,
C.I.E. (Quamichan), F. Maris Hale (Deerholme), A. A. Mutter (Somenos),
L. F. Solly (Westholme), R. U. Hurford (Courtenay), A. C. Aiken
First Election (United Farmers of British Columbia)1917
: President, C. G. Palmer (Quamichan); Vice-Presidents: J. W. Berry
(Langley), R. A. Copeland (Kelowna), P. H. Moore (Saanich); Secretary,
H. J. Ruscombe Poole (Duncan); Directors: J. Johnson (Nelson), R. U.
Hurford (Comox), L. Dilworth (Kelowna), R. H. Helmer (Summerland), W.
E. Smith (Revelstoke), W. Paterson (Koksiloh).
17. United Grain Growers, Limited1917.
By Act of Dominion Parliament, June, 1917, the necessary changes in
the charter of the Grain Growers' Grain Company, Limited, were granted
to enable amalgamation with the Alberta Farmers' Co-Operative Elevator
Company under the name, United Grain Growers, Limited; authorized
capital, $5,000,000. The first election of officers was as follows:
President, T. A. Crerar; 1st Vice-president, C. Rice-Jones (Veteran,
Alta.); 2nd Vice-president, John Kennedy; Secretary, E. J. Fream
(Calgary, Alta.); Directors: C. F. Brown (Calgary), R. A. Parker
(Winnifred, Alta.), J. J. McLellan (Purple Springs, Alta.), P. S.
Austin (Banfurly, Alta.), H. C. Wingate (Cayley, Alta.), Roderick
McKenzie (Brandon, Man.), F. J. Collyer (Welwyn, Sask.), John Morrison
(Yellow Grass, Sask.), J. F. Reid (Orcadia, Sask.).
18. At the meeting of the Canadian Council of Agriculture in
Winnipeg on July 5th, 1918, Norman P. Lambert was appointed
Secretary-Treasurer to succeed Roderick McKenzie, who now occupies the
position of Vice-president.
19. R. A. Bonnar, K.C. (Bonnar, Trueman, Hollands &Robinson), has
been solicitor and counsel for the Grain Growers since 1906 and has
been identified closely with them on many dramatic occasions.