Farmers' Expectations and the Saskatchewan Co-Operative Elevator Co. 1908-1917
Irwin, Robert Scott
On March 14, 1911, following the recommendations of the Saskatchewan Royal Commission on Grain Elevators, the Sask atchewan government of Walter Scott created the Saskatchewan Co-operative Elevator Company (SCECo). It marked the cUlmination of a decade of farmer attempts to reform the grain trade. Supported by the Saskatchewan Grain Growers' Association (SGGA), the Co-op, as the elevator company came to be known, experienced tremendous growth. Membership expanded from 2,508 in 46 locals to 13,156 in 192 locals during the first three years of operation. By 1917 the SCECo operated 258 country elevators, a marketing company with a seat on the Winnipeg Grain Exchange, and a terminal elevator at Port Arthur. Still, the Co-op was not a complete success. The farm movement had looked upon elevator reform as a panacea for handling, marketing, transportation and credit problems. Under the terms of its charter, however, the SCECo operated within the existing marketing system buying and selling grain to supplement its unprofitable storage and handling business. Moreover, the Company's commercially minded and centralised management refused to implement several non-marketing reforms desired by the farm movement. Despite the Co-opts great success in the elevator business, it failed to meet the high expectations of farmers.