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Archives of the Agricultural Experience: North-West Line Elevators Association


North-West Line Elevators Association

Administrative History

This association was first organized by the Manitoba Elevator Operators on July 18, 1899, under the name North-West Elevator Association. The first Directorship consisted of William Martin, President, and Robert Muir, Vice President. The other directors included R.D. Martin, E. O'Riley, John Love, R.C. Ennis, S.A. McGaw, J.E. Mann, and T.B. Barker. The membership included 24 companies or individuals representing 272 country elevators.

In 1904, the Association was incorporated by a special act of the Manitoba Legislature under the name of the North-West Grain Dealers Association. The membership had increased threefold to include 95 companies or individuals representing 780 elevators. John Love was the first President of the newly incorporated Association.

The first ten years were marked with rapid expansion. By 1910, the membership had risen to 164 companies or individuals with the number of elevators practically doubling to 1500. Five years later, 30 more companies had come on board with the number of elevators growing to 2900. Through amalgamation of some of the smaller companies, the roster declined to 101 companies in 1925 but the number of elevators increased to 3741.

In 1926, the hierarchy within the Association changed with the formation of the Owner's Committee. Henceforth Directors were appointed from the junior executive ranks or general superintendents of companies but the real power lay with the Owner's Committee. This committee lasted for ten years at which time a Public Relations Department was formed in March 1935. This group chose L.W. Brockinton as its first leader with G.W.P Heffelfinger as the first chairman.

Like all industry, the grain business was forced to navigate ten lean years during the depression. The membership declined to 55 companies by 1935 but still managed to represent 3345 elevators. In 1937, the Manitoba Legislature amended the Association's capital stock set up. The old membership shares were paid out in full at $15 apiece plus a premium of $5 per share. The new capital arrangement called for 20,000 authorized shares and 3393 subscribed shares selling at $1 each. A company was called upon to take $1 shares for every elevator it owned.

With the financial restructuring of the Association came board room policy changes. After 1937, all Directors were now chosen from the principals of the companies. In 1940, the company changed its name to the North-West Line Elevators Association. The Association lobbied for preferable rail rates for shipping. They attempted to block line abandonments by the C.P.R. and the C.N.R. The Farm Service side of the Association performed grain research through its demonstration plots and seed testing laboratory. At its peak, the Association covered elevators spanning the prairie provinces and Thunder Bay and represented the interests of most of the leading grain companies in Western Canada. The company still had an administrative board in 1992 but two years later it had come under the control of N.M. Paterson & Sons Ltd. and is now dormant.

Scope and Content

The North-West Line Elevators Association origins can be traced back to 1899. The collection contains the minutes of the original Board of Directors as well as detailed sampling, although not complete, of Directors' minutes and memoranda up until the early 1970s. The collection is divided into four categories. The corporate records contain Director's minutes, Executive Committee minutes, annual reports, and the Public Relations Department records. The financial records contain auditors' reports, balance sheets, stock ledgers, tax returns, budgets, shareholders' information, and Grain Claim Bureau assessments. The legal records cover demurrage action, court cases, agreements and contracts, as well as Royal Commission on Box Car Distribution reports from the mid-1950s and Royal Commission on Transportation reports from the early-1960s. The operational records contain company correspondence, tariff information, Canada Grains Council reports and Canada Wheat Board reports, articles and pamphlets, as well as lists of grain elevators. The collection provides a nice cross section of the Association from its inception until the mid-1970s.


Collection Reference: MSS 127, PC 136, MC 4
Inclusive Dates: 1899-1985
Collection Contents: 8 m. of textual recors, 124 photographs and slides, and 1 audio tape
Access Conditions: None


North-West Line Elevators Association fonds