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The Early Days:

Little boys and teenage youths shot gophers and collected 3 cents for each tail. Pigs sold for 5 3/4 cents a pound.  A hired man earned $1.25 a day, working from dawn to dusk. Beginning in August of 1914, Canadians went to fight in the First World War.  624,000 Canadian troops went overseas, 62,500 died in the war.       

Lloydminster was two communities.  There was a Saskatchewan town and an Alberta village.  Each organized its own municipal affairs.  Each had its own fair; Saskatchewan in August, Alberta in October.  The people danced and had their social functions in Wood’s hall, where the Heritage Centre is now.  They sang songs such as “Tipperary” and “Redwing”.

In 1903, Archie Miller’s dad and uncle had built the first store, and lived in a covered sleigh until it was finished.  Then they lived over the store until Cummings and Cameron bought the store.  The Miller’s built a house where the C.P.R tracks now lie.  In order to lay the tracks the basement had to be filled in.  Archie Miller lived in a tent for 13 years, about where 49 Ave and 53 street are now.  The second store built was H. B. Hall’s store.  On Church St., which is, 50th  St. now, was the Baptist Church and the the log church, St. John’s Minster.  There were two hotels on the street, the Royal George and the Britannia.

The banks in town were The Bank of Commerce and the Royal Bank of Canada.  People had little cash money yet there was a lot of produce on hand. Some thought there should be some changes in this situation.

The First Co-operative:

The Barr Colonists knew all about co-operation.  Co-operative enterprises had been in England for 60 years.  They couldn’t have come on this venture to Canada and begin settling here without co-operation. Isaac Barr sold shares in a co-operative as part of his preparations for the settlement. This first was a project to make goods available to the people.  With Barr’s departure, two colonists organized the co-operative. They were Nathaniel Jones and William Riddington, an immigration officer sent by the government to look after the people.  Food, farm equipment and building materials were the supplies they needed.  

When the Miller’s store opened, followed later by W. H. Hall, the first Co-operative ceased to exist.  However the spirit of co-operation was still very much alive in the hearts and minds of the settlers.  Bush clearing and land breaking were heavy work and were made easier by co-operating.  Once the colonists had grain and cattle to sell there was no organized method to market them.  This meant no money to buy supplies or equipment they needed. There was no railway and no assistance from the government to help them sell their goods.

Co-operativism was especially popular in the Greenwood and Blackfoot areas. When, in 1910, Prime Minister Laurier came to Lloydminster, Stanley Rackham and a Mr. Hollingsworth presented a petition to him asking for terminal elevators, a Hudson Bay Railway, co-operative legislation, refrigerated cars (for chilled meats) and locker plants.  The communities wanted federal legislation to allow organized co-operatives.  Already, the Saskatchewan Grain Growers Association sold to the settlers bulk items, such as: binder twine, lumber, fence posts, nails and formalin.  The goods would be dumped in a farmer’s yard, and everyone came to pick up his order.  

1914: What a year!

January 22, 1914, at a meeting at the North Battleford Annual Convention of the Saskatchewan Grain Growers Association there was a request made for the Saskatchewan Legislature to pass a bill calling for the establishment of wholesale and retail co-operative associations.  George Penson canvassed Lloydminster neighbourhoods to see what support there was for a local co-operative association.  In February, the Saskatchewan Legislature passed the Agriculture Co-operative Association Act.  On April 6, 1914, all local associations were notified to send two delegates to a convention at Greenwood School. On Friday, June 12, the school yard was filled with saddle horses, buggies and carts bringing farmers from the Greenwood and North Gully districts.  W. G. Foote brought 8 or 10 delegates from Southminster in his wagon.  They traveled 14 miles in two and one half hours.  Twenty four people were there that day. A memorial plaque hangs in the office of the Co-op store commemorating those founding members. Stanley Rackham was elected chairman.  He knew the advantages of having a Co-op in the district.  He knew the farmers’ cash flow was insufficient due to the uncertainty of good crops.  They couldn’t buy what they needed unless they were given credit.  Waiting until they sold their produce meant the prices would be higher or the goods unavailable.  

The advantages, he told the farmers were: being able to exchange cattle and hogs for food and clothing; the organization could handle and ship livestock and buy and sell goods co-operatively  

Mr. Penson moved and Mr. Almond seconded that a Co-operative Association be formed in Lloydminster and District under the Saskatchewan Co-operative Association Act with a capital of $5000. This would consist of 200 shares of $25 each.  Ten dollars to be paid up giving them powers to act under section 5 of the new Act.  The motion was unanimously carried.  That day, thirty three shares were sold.  Six provisional directors were elected to serve until the first general meeting.  The Lloydminster Times carried an account of this meeting.  The Association was to be “The Lloydminster & District Agricultural Co-operative Association” with the headquarters in Lloydminster.  The powers to include both the purchasing of supplies and the marketing of farm produce.  A collection of $7.60 was taken towards the organization expenses.  

The Lloydminster and District Agriculture Co-operative Association Limited incorporation fee was $3.55. Stanley Rackham chaired the first meeting of the Co-operative within the town limits on August 7, 1914 with a large number of people in attendance, as well as many non-shareholders.  Jim Almond, George Pensom, Stanley Rackham, Ernie Burton, George Foote and Peter Sermuks were the six directors elected.  W. Holland was the first auditor.  

Business decisions:     

All shares must be paid before the shareholder received dividends. Dividends to non-shareholders would be held until they equalled the value of one share - then a stock certificate would be issued. A person must pay 25% deposit when buying something from the Co-op and pay the rest in five days or lose his deposit. This was a tough principle for the farmers who had so little money.  The private stores were extending credit.  The Co-op today is what it is, due to the tough principles and sacrifices in those early days.  Twenty-three shares were sold at this first meeting.  The directors met and elected Stanley Rackham as the first president and George Pensom as the first vice-president.

T.A.A. Wright

They appointed T.A.A. Wright, “Alf” or “T.A.” as he was known, as manager.  T.A. was from the Cockney area of London.  Having only grade three education he went to work as an apprentice in the shipyard at Brightling Sea.  At age twenty-one he was foreman in charge of the whole operation and over twenty men.  He came to Lloydminster in 1905 settling into the first log house in the community, on 50th Avenue across from the United Church.  He built the Canadian Bank of Commerce manager’s home on the corner of 49th Avenue and 45th Street, and the Stanley Rackham home just east of town, which is still standing.  He tried farming on a homestead but he wasn’t suited for that career.  He learned much about the grain, livestock and farming industry.  His two sons helped out on the farm allowing him to manage the Co-op.  Together they established a good farm.  

In the slack periods he used his carpentry skills to build grain elevators for the Alberta Farmers’ Grain Company.  He worked with Percy and Hedley Manners and others who built some of the first elevators at Kitscoty, Blackfoot and Lloydminster. He knew nothing about selling before coming to the Co-op, but he was a persuasive, determined, ambitious and shrewd enterpriser who had a good head for business.  T.A. was paid $4 to work one day a week.  By the time he had worked eleven weeks he had built the job up to two days a week.  By the first of November he had worked twenty-three days.  During 1915 the job was three days a week; in 1916 it was a part time job paying $125 a month; by 1918 it was a full time job paying $2500 per annum.  T.A. was a man of action, a thinker, a philosopher and the architect of the Co-op.  Business men Harry Messum and W.L. Cameron would be coming to work at eight in the morning and see the coal oil lamp burning in the Co-op office and when they would be going home late at night the oil lamp would still be burning.  

            In 1914 he realized that he needed to keep accounts which would make it necessary to have an ongoing system of books.  He purchased the Alexander Hamilton Institute Business Course, which was recognized as the best correspondence business course of its day.  It covered every aspect of business in its twenty-four volumes.  Each volume had five hundred pages.  While he ate his meals he studied and took notes on everything he didn’t know and words he didn’t understand, so he could look them up later in the dictionary.  T.A. was shrewd and aggressive in the business of buying and selling and promoted the on going expansion of the organization.    

The Six Directors:

Stanley Rackham   Many capable people worked with Mr. Wright to guide the organization to a successful beginning.  One such was Stanley Rackham. His visions and thoughts were transformed into actions. He envisioned the co-operative association itself along with rural electrification co-operatives and home oil and gas heating co-operatives.  His dream was that all of these could be realized through the organized efforts of the ordinary citizen.  He was responsible for the original idea of the co-operative association.    

Stanley Rackham had enlisted the co-operation of his neighbours to sell and ship livestock co-operatively as far back as 1909.  In 1910 he was delivering papers and lectures to the Greenwood Branch of the Saskatchewan Grain Growers Association on co-operative principles and methods.  He attended farmer’s conventions and conferences that were instigating and supporting government action for co-operative legislation.  He had attended the agricultural college at Aspatria in Northern England. Through that school’s affiliation, he and another young man wrote the first agricultural examinations ever set by Cambridge. They were the first agricultural graduates from Cambridge University. It was his dream that stirred and united the local residents of Lloydminster to do something about organizing a co-op.  He was on the Board of Directors in three different periods from 1914 until his death in 1937.  

George Foote (W.G.) was described as a “tough, tight-fisted and hard driving individual.”  He was of stiff Cockney upbringing, which led him to believe that since he had received no breaks in life, he would not extend any to another person.  He believed in co-operation, so much so that it was like his religion. He had the ability to see the whole situation at once and thus to weigh the pros and cons of it accurately.

George Pensom, a Gloucestershire man, had little formal education.  He had red curly hair with a temper to go with it.  If there was a problem, he wanted it cleared up before proceeding on.  Every issue must be clarified and any misunderstandings straightened out then and now.  Everyone on the Board must agree before he would let it rest.  

James Almond, with his “Santa Claus” beard, was similar in character to Pensom.  Being the eldest director he had accumulated a little more experience.  He had more patience than Pensom due to his thirteen children.  He kept to his strong principles and could be firm when discussing an issue.  He was sent to Ottawa to personally interview Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier on the circumstances, needs and provisions of the Barr Colony farmers.  

Peter Sermuks, with his family moved to Lloydminster.  Today, the city has a memorial of his craftsmanship in a handmade, five foot iron cross marking the grave of Delma Alpine, his fourteen-year-old daughter who was accidentally killed by a horse in 1919.  He was a deep thinking man, intensely loyal.  He seconded many motions and proposed a few.  When he made a motion everyone listened.   He proposed bonus money to be allocated to planning and building for the future keeping our buildings in the front ranks, including a first-class restroom for the ladies.  The rural women and children coming into town to do business would need such a facility.  He wanted the best building in town. Sermuks proposed a hall for good music and recreation.  He proposed services that would benefit the whole community, and not always produce profits.  

Ernie Burton, very little is known about him.  He represented Southminster and in 1920 moved to the U.S.A.       

Mr. Dunning, the local agent for the Saskatchewan Co-operative Elevator, shared his office with the new Association.  He asked that it would not be used for storage.  T.A.A. Wright, the secretary of the Co-op Association, had the office forms and stationary printed and bought office supplies necessary to set up business.  He placed an advertisement in the Lloydminster Times, to run three consecutive issues.  The ad read:

Lloydminster and District Agriculture Co-operative Association Ltd.

This Association is now organized for business.  Full information can be obtained from the secretary, Mr. T.A.A. Wright, at Mr. Daly’s office, Lloydminster, every Friday.  (Sam Daly was the manager of the Canadian Bank of Commerce, the first bank in Lloydminster.)

The Times also printed 500 copies of the following circular letter on the new letterhead:

The above Association is now fully organized and will appreciate your interest and support.  Our charter authorizes us to procure any supplies required and also to sell your stock or produce.  The value of the Association to you will be limited by the support it receives. Shares are $25.00 each, $10.00 payable on allotment.  The undersigned will be in town on Fridays to receive application and give information desired.  

By 1915, January 13, it was apparent that a building was needed.  The shareholders wanted their own building, so another 625 shares were declared open, the proceeds of which were to be used to buy real estate and a building.  The directors liked the property owned by J. Walters of Edmonton.  Today that site is just east of Meridian Avenue and directly north of the railroad tracks where the lumber yard is located.  The lot ran from the tracks to the present 52nd Street.  On February 23rd , 1915 at a meeting of the Board, William (Billy) Mackenzie offered his stable as a building for $100.00.  He was willing to be paid with one fully paid-up share and the balance could be paid at the convenience of the Co-op.  The board agreed to buy his stable if he would move it to the prospective site, when they obtained it.  He agreed to this.  Billy Mackenzie was so enthusiastic about the success of the Co-op that he guessed that it would be doing a half million dollars worth of business by 1918.  Billy wasn’t very far off the mark.  

The C.N. announced the track plan and the Co-op bought the Walter’s property and Billy moved his stable, to become the permanent home of the Lloydminster and District Agriculture Co-operative Association.  Due to good lumber and coal sales two storage sheds were built in 1916. In 1918, the Directors decided that a new store was needed and they should stock and sell groceries. T.A.A. Wright was authorized to buy George Greening’s store and stock.  

[Story recalled by Harry Messum concerning this purchase: The asking price was $13, 600.The conversation went like this:

“Well George, I hear you are selling the store.”

“That is correct, Mr Wright.”

“Just what are you selling it for?”

“I’m asking $13,600, Mr Wright.”

“Well just consider it sold, George,” said Wright, passing a cheque over the counter.

“But this is only for $13,000, Mr. Wright.”

“Oh, come now, George! $13,000 cash always is better than $13,600 on terms.”

“But I’m asking $13,600, Mr Wright.”

“Now, now George!  You have things here that we’ll have no use for.  Your account books, your stationary, your receipt book - all these things we have no use for.  You can have them.  We’ll get our own.”

“But Mr. Wright, when a man sells his business, he sells everything, and I’m selling you everything and I’m asking $13,600.”

“Come now George!  Reconsider; here is $13,000 on the barrel head.”

George Greening was incensed and his blood pressure was exploding.  He went through his ledger and accounts swiftly and systematically. He decided that his business was actually worth $13,607.50.  And that is what Mr Wright paid for it.]

This store stocked not only groceries but also a complete line of outfitting equipment.  Outfitting was the early term for everything that wasn’t groceries, including hardware or saddlery.  The Directors were anxious to build a new store.  They moved the Co-op bank account to the Royal Bank of Canada after a disagreement with the manager of the Bank of Commerce.  In 1919, Peter Sermuks proposed that all bonuses be made to the building fund, putting the Co-op building “in the front rank” and giving full accommodation for all the Co-op’s needs. Customers were asked to save all counter checks for bonuses, and return same every three months. People were asked to write down their ideas and wants and mail them in, in time for the annual meeting on Saturday, Feb. 28, 1919 where they would be discussed.

Farmers were asked to state what quantities of the things sold in the store that they would require and buy through out the year.

The list they would choose from was: barb wire, fence posts, plough shares, brace wire, groceries (we can sell case goods now), paints, blackleg vaccine, gopher poison, salt, coal, gasoline drums, stock & storage tanks, cement, household utensils, woven wire, corrugated roofing & siding, cereals, hardware, well casing & pipe, flour & feed, lumber & building material.  As well, they could sell Farm Implements, such as: buggies, harrow carts, cream churns, ploughs, cultivators, incubators, steel eveners, wood eveners, garden tools, pumps, mowers, manure spreaders, drills, rakes, wagon gears, disc harrows, grain grinders, wagon boxes, diamond harrows, fanning mills, farm trucks, lever harrows, and cream separators.

A few of the prices:

Groceries:      Pure lard, 3lb. $1.15;      5lb. $1.90

Bacon,  29c up

Ham, 36c per lb.

Honey, 10 lb. pail $3.35

Syrup, 10 lb. pail $1.25

Jams, Wagstaffe’s $1.00

Purity flour, $6.50 per 98 lb. bag

Samson flour, $3.80 per 98 lb. bag

Rolled oats,  $2.45 per 40 lb. bag;   $1.25 per 20 lb. bag

Holland herring,  $1.90 per kit

Cut bone, 4c per lb.;   $3.75 per 100 lb.

Oyster shell 3 1/2c per lb.; $3.25 per 100 lb.  

Other Items:   Pump jacks, $11.75 double geared;   $10.00 single geared       

Tank heaters, $9.25

Cement $1.35 per 100 lb. bag

Salt $4.85 per barrel;   Pressed blocks .90c;    Dairy butter salt $1.15 per 50 lb. bag

Hydrated lime, 65c per lb. sack

Empire wall board, $37.50 per M.

Medussa waterproofing, 20c per lb.

Empire wood fibre, $1.00 per 80 lb. Sack

Heating: Stove coal was used to heat the homes.  Members were encouraged to buy the coal in the summer and store it in a dark water-tight shed.  This would cut down the cost.  The Co-op had an expert engineer available to visit the homes to advise and solve heating problems at no cost to the customer.  

The new store:

Directors approved the building of a new store at the cost of $5000. However they had to wait for increased capital. Then in March the Scott Brothers were dissolving their partnership and selling their Northern Hardware store. Mr Sermuks, Mr Steele, T.A., and Frank Jones formed a committee to investigate buying the store and stock.  The total price was $31,610.27 for the “best built store in town.”  Now the Co-op was in the “front ranks” of businesses in Lloydminster. With the aid of a $15,000.00 bank loan from the Royal Bank, the property, stock and equipment all became the Co-op’s.

The Co-op was originally conceived to be a producer-consumer co-operative.  Its charter said, “to market the livestock … which the shareholders may produce, and to purchase farm supplies ... under the co-operative plan”.  The old-timers speak of the three stage development of the co-op, the livestock-producer stage, the producer-consumer stage and now the strictly consumer phase.

Sales comparisons:    

In 1914, the total sales were $6,100, of that livestock sales were $4100. In 1919, the total sales were $378,000, of that were livestock sales of  $299,000. The objectives of the consumer Co-op has always been to supply goods and services as efficiently and economically as possible, returning the savings to our members on the basis of patronage.  The emphasis was on serving the community.  

Problems within the organization:

Tough times after the First World War. The Founding Fathers began to leave the Board and their replacements perhaps were not as strong and visionary

When a department registered a loss, suspicions arose as to what was going on.  Was it pilfering?   Was it mice eating up the profits?  It was true the mice spoiled many flour and sugar sacks. Was it poor accounting? A new accountant, S.F. Lows, a South African, was hired.  The accounting system was a tedious and laborious, time-consuming system of counter-checking.  Mr. Lows started to suspect T.A.’s  honesty.  Soon he was making direct charges against T.A. Wright.  Mr. Wright could explain and answer every charge to the Board.  However, a Chartered Accountant, O.J. Godfrey, from Indian Head, was hired to investigate the operations of the Association and the reliability of T.A. as manager.  The report was never made public to the shareholders, but Stuart and Colin Wright gave a copy to the editor of the Lloydminster Times.  There was a vote of confidence in Mr Wright as a manager.  However, pressure for his release was mounting and he eventually resigned.  There was much disagreement among the members over this and the President of the Board, I. J. Steele resigned.   Many realized that Mr. Wright had left a great legacy on which to build the future Co-op.   

Employees: In the early days, employees were not given holidays, and no sick days paid for.  In 1924. they were given fourteen days holiday after one year of service, with the pay and time allowed left to the manager’s discretion. Paychecks were to be issued monthly, rather than semi-annually.  An employee was to receive full pay for one week of sickness in a year, but only half pay for any time missed in excess of the week. There were no further changes until 1947, when Scotty Davidson retired, and the idea of super-annuation was introduced. A proper relationship between manager and board, and staff and shareholders was set up.  In the Godfrey Report were recommendations to solve who was boss and where each person fit into the organization fulfilling their responsibilities. The staff was responsible to the manager, the manager was responsible to the directors, and the directors to the members and to be faithful co-operative customers.    

A new manager, Howard Jones, came to the Co-op.  He was a whiz at figures and finances.  Mr. Jones proposed a new system of bookkeeping and reporting and detailed it to the firm of Mowat and Mctavish.  This firm agreed to audit the association’s records for an annual fee of $300.  To regain the confidence and business of the members he wanted a patronage bonus declared. This helped to boost the sales.  By 1926, business had grown and slowly expanded to a total of $339,525. Due to Mr. Jones’ wife’s illness, he surprised the Board with his resignation. This is when Scotty Davidson came to fill Jones’ position as manager and secretary-treasurer in 1927.  His salary was $3000 per annum with a bonus of $500, provided the profits were as much as those of 1926 at the close of business in 1927.  A bond of $5000 was to be furnished.  

Scotty Davidson: was born August 3, 1876 in Scotland, just eight years after the organization of the Scottish Co-operative Movement in 1868.  His grandparents raised him, as his parents had died very young.  Scotty fetched the groceries that paid the dividends that built the “wee hoos” he was raised in.

After leaving school, he was apprenticed for six years in a shipbroker’s office in Aberdeen, spending the next ten years in the chartering and feed businesses. Following this he was the Aberdeenshire representative for the Molassine Meal Company until he left for Canada in 1909.  Scotty arrived in Edmonton on April 1, 1909.  He traveled for the Canada Dry Soft Drink Company for a year, followed by two years of service with wholesale fruit firms.  In 1913, he got a job with Revillon Wholesale Ltd., and was the sales manager from 1914 to 1920.  After a two year stint in the insurance business he moved his wife and family to Vancouver where he was sales manager for the Gregory tire and Rubber Company until 1927, when he came to Lloydminster.  At age 51 Scotty became the become manager for the Co-op; this was a feat as he had only been given six months to live before coming to Canada with tuberculosis.

During the twenty one year span of working for the Co-op he earned the esteem, confidence and respect of the community.  Scotty was the man the organization needed for the troubled times that lay ahead during the thirties and forties.  

Expanding the Business under Scotty’s Leadership:

For 1927, Scotty proposed to house all the departments under one roof. Plans were drawn for a new addition to the Northern hardware Building, west of that store, having a new front, full size basement, stock elevators, a mezzanine floor for offices and restrooms. Tenders were called and A. J. Adkins of Westlock won with the lowest bid of $11,040 and the contract was signed on August 25, 1927.  Mr Adkins bid proved to be too low; when completed in February the building cost $13,793.47.  This was a difference of $2,234.68.  The factors causing the increased costs were: the cold weather, which created higher consumption of coal, the cost of sand and gravel was higher and the amount spent for the water was enormous.  

By 1929, the total amount invested by the Co-op in buildings and real estate was $66,158. Cash and inventories totalled $83,000. Total salaries paid were $6,797.           

Disaster: August 19, 1929 everything burned down in the “great fire”.  The lumber yard and the buildings just north of the tracks were the only properties left.  This was heart breaking, after using temporary buildings for so long, and to have their own permanent building for only two years and see it go up in smoke. After the fire, the Britannia Hotel property was bought for $4,500 for use until a new building could be built.  A total of $76,771 was collected from the Insurance Co.  

A new store was to be built by C. M. Miners Construction Company of Saskatoon.  It was 117 x 100 feet, at an estimated cost of $36,000.  It was to be finished in three months. Due to the onslaught of what would become known as the Great Depression, it was very difficult to obtain a mortgage of $20,000, but eventually after traveling over the country Scotty obtained a loan of $15,000 from the Bank of Commerce in Regina. The Bank of Commerce in Lloydminster was the “keeper of the purse” for the Co-op for many years.  

In 1930, with a new store and the Co-op made $36,000 profit and had 572 shareholders. Livestock sales slipped to the point that a decision was made to dissolve the livestock department.  The Co-op concentrated on the sale of lumber, coal, hides, implements, binder twine, groceries, outfitting, hardware, and saddlery. The effects of the Depression in the early thirties showed lower sales but in 1934, by building the Hillmond Branch, sales and savings went up.  

Trends were changing, the “Outfitting Department” changed to “Men’s Wear’ and “Ladies Wear,” the more accepted terms. Since the Co-operative Act had been passed, local associations had experienced difficulty in purchasing regular supplies from commercial wholesale firms.  The retail merchants were opposed to what they saw as unfair competition of group purchasing by farmers.  A co-operative wholesale enterprise seemed the answer.  The first of this kind was the trading department of the Saskatchewan Grain Growers Association, which emerged under legislation arising out of the Agricultural Credit Commission of 1913.  

A venture by the Co-operative Union to incorporate a whole society under the Companies Act, The Saskatchewan Wholesale Society Ltd. Had come into being in 1929.  Scotty became the first president of this wholesale society.  Later, the name was changed three times, the last, Federated Co-operatives Limited in 1955, as it is known today.  Scotty is described in the history of Federated Co-op, as “one of the most colourful characters … in the Co-op movement. A man who was immaculately dressed, polished in his manner.”  On June 25, 1942 Scotty was honoured by the Co-operative Union of Canada.  In recognition of his services an illustrated address was presented to him which read in part:

We, the Co-operators of Saskatchewan, honour you as an esteemed citizen of the province and for your valued services to the Co-operative movement.  More especially do we appreciate the leadership given by you to the movement in your community as manager of the Lloydminster and District Agricultural Co-operative Association for fifteen years, and your contribution to the movement in this province as president of the Saskatchewan Co-operative Wholesale Society during a period of organization and planning which assisted greatly the successful development of the society in recent years.  Also we value those same qualities for leadership and service which have enabled you to make a most important contribution to the welfare of your community as a whole.  May you enjoy good health and happiness which comes from service to your fellow man.    

 Scotty continued on as manager of the local Co-op until March, 1948 when he retired at the age of 73 years.  Super-annuation was definitely needed.  Scotty had struggled and worked hard for the Co-op but now he would have nothing to live on.  The Board voted to give Scotty a pension of $5,000, to be given at a rate of $100 a month.  Now every employee had the opportunity to contribute to and receive a super-annuation.

There came an end to a fabulous era of history. The curtain fell on the first act of what had been an interesting, turbulent and successful drama.  Many of the original and early directors were deceased, retired, or were getting too old to carry on with the work of the Co-op.  

New Management: Scotty made a plea on behalf of the staff who had given valuable and devoted service that before taking in an outsider to fill a vacancy, consideration should be extended to old employees.  Also the Board decided to separate the positions of manager and secretary-treasurer.  James L. Kinney, a local hockey hero and manager of the Hardware Department was appointed manager. Ruby Gibbings was appointed secretary, and Les Loader, the long-time accountant, became treasurer. Some New Directors were: Les Foote, Tom Rackham, Bill Newman, Mel Clark and Chris Andersen, the sons of the pioneer co-operators.  These men had grown up with the Co-op and it was their responsibility to continue to operate the Co-op as efficiently as possible. Chris Andersen was appointed president of the Board.  

Changes under Kinney’s leadership:

There was an agreement with the Federal government on fair income tax assessment and a reprieve form the past unfair taxation. In 1952, (Feb.) the store was redecorated.  There was approval to build a new wing, the grocery addition. The Credit Union wanted to build with the Co-op, however, the Co-op financed it to keep it as a Co-op store.  The new building opened on July 5, 1954.  Office space for the Credit Union was allowed but it soon ran out of space.

Kinney directed the board toward expansion into the field of furniture and appliances, which could be housed in the basement.  By 1954 the organization was in serious trouble.  Kinney and the Board had lost communication and discipline with the staff.  They had been too lenient in permitting drinking on the premises.  A loss of control resulted in power cliques and staff favouritism.  A committee was sent to Saskatoon to interview the Personnel Department of Federated Co-operatives Limited.  After their visit they started an “investigation and re-organization” which resulted in Kinney’s resignation, and Gibbings followed.  Andersen sent a letter to the membership to explain what was happening.  He also acted as manager until A.B. Heeney was hired. This term was short as Heeney, as a reformed alcoholic, soon fell off the wagon.  

Colin Sandhurst succeeded Heeney as Manager in 1954. Sandhurst had gained considerable experience working at the Hudson’s Bay Company in Winnipeg.  However he did not have a co-operative background.  This proved to be his undoing. However, there were improvements during his three years:

He rebuilt the sloppy organization to a sound business venture. A compulsory savings plan was established that guaranteed member investments in the Co-op. [This system is still in place today, it is largely responsible for members continuing to purchase Co-op bonds and debentures, which enables the association to expand.] The accounts receivable were reduced and the credit system improved. Inventory was cut back. Staff benefits were improved; staff received a ten percent reduction above cost on purchases; sick leave benefits were given one week for each year of service, on-accumulative, with a maximum of one month in any year to be effective from date of employment. A coffee bar was added in 1955. The Farm Supply Department began stocking fertilizer. The Bulk Plant was moved and improved. A service station was added. The Harness Department died, the equipment was donated to the Western Development Museum in Saskatoon.  However the service of binder canvass repair was offered until the use of table augers on combines became widespread. Expansion of the lumber yard followed the purchase of the Marshall Wells warehouse for $25000.  The Bank if Commerce lent the money for six years at 5 3/4% per annum.  

Sandhurst was not a Co-op manager.  He didn’t understand that being officious and totalitarian was not filling the job required of him, that of a coach to a team of department managers. In 1957, the Board was faced with resignations again, including Sandhurst’s, who threatened to do so if the Board listened to the managers’ grievances. Once more Chris Andersen would be the acting manager of the Co-op.  

Leon Doucet was appointed manager of the Co-op, September 1, 1957. Doucet, as a young pilot officer dreamed of being a manager of a Co-op Store some day. His father had been the manager of the Makwa Co-operative Store and he had worked in the store after school. After his discharge from the Royal Canadian Air force he completed a three-month preliminary course on Co-operatives in three weeks. Doucet, aged nineteen, took over the management of the Domremy Co-operative Association, and served four years there.  From 1949 to 1951 he was a roving Regional Manager and Stores Supervisor, This job entailed traveling to twenty-six associated stores and forty bulk stations in the northeast part of Saskatchewan. In 1951, as roving Regional Manager stationed in Nipawin, he managed a group of local Co-ops which because of financial difficulties had signed management contracts with Federated.  Some of the duties and responsibilities included meeting the different local boards, recommending corrective measures. In the spring of 1954 Doucet became Operations Manager with the Saskatoon Co-operative Association.  During his employment in Saskatoon he took an advanced Management and Administration course at the University of Saskatchewan.  

When he applied for the position in Lloydminster, he wrote:

I am well aware of some of the problems your Association has to contend with; I think I have the administrative ability, training, experience and drive to do the job you and your members have a right to expect from the management of a retail Co-op … I am confident that I can work harmoniously with staff and Boards and get the job done to the satisfaction of members.   

Progress under Leon Doucet: fresh meats into the grocery department, new modern produce counters were installed, lumber and hardware departments were re-organized, staff discounts and special privileges were replaced with a comprehensive medical plan. [The Board wanted staff to be treated like other members of the Co-operative Association.]

In 1958, the third Co-op Drug Department in Saskatchewan opened in Lloydminster. Back in 1939, it became illegal for a grocery store to stock aspirins, cough syrups and other patented medicine. Scotty Davidson wrote a letter to the Saskatchewan Pharmaceutical Association requesting information regarding the formation of a drug department.  The reply stated, “all directors would have to become qualified druggists, and besides the Secretary of the Pharmaceutical Association did not see what the Co-op wanted with another drug store when there were already two in operation in Lloydminster.” After the government investigated, the province eventually passed legislation giving Co-operatives the right to have drug departments, provided there was one qualified pharmacist in attendance.  In 1953, Sherwood Co-op in Regina opened the first one; in 1954 the second one opened in Saskatoon Co-op when Doucet was operation manager and Eric Hughes was general manager.   

Also under Doucet, the lumber yard got a face-lift; a new building was erected and opened by the Honourable T.C. Douglas, Premier of Saskatchewan, on November 5, 1958. In the same fall, the bulk plant was moved to its present rail-side position.  In January 1959, trucks hit the highway, transporting bulk fuel for the Co-op. Also in this year the drug department and cafeteria both had to be expanded.

Doucet presented a five year plan for the Board to make major decisions, to tear down the old store and rebuild, or renovate the old premises.   At an expense of $13,000 the Board allowed Doucet to employ a Chicago firm of department store engineers to prepare a detailed study of the Lloydminster trading area.  The report stated that the present building could be renovated and that the prospects of development were such that the Co-op should venture forth with a quarter-million dollar expansion and renovation program. Renovations began in February of 1960, pillars were torn out, wooden beams were replaced with steel, the building was rewired, new fixtures added, the store front was remodelled, departments were relocated, air conditioning installed, 10,000 square feet were added to the basement to stock merchandise, more checkouts were added in the grocery department. In 1962, the barber shop and beauty salon were completed.

This same Co-op, including the H. B. Hall Building would become the “Heritage Centre” in 1988, a tribute to the history of the co-operative spirit in Lloydminster over 75 years.

Despite fierce controversy, the grocery department was moved out of the “downtown”
and relocated on Highway 17 and 36 Street,
where it has proven to be an enormous success.

May 12, 1937

Lloydminster Co-operative store is decorated for the celebration of the coronation
of His Majesty George VI

History of the Lloydminster & District Co-operative Ltd.

1914 - 1989 - Based on the official history "Reflections of 75 Years"

This summary compiled by Dorothy Foster, Foster Learning Inc.