The forerunner of Manitoba Pool Elevators (MPE), the Manitoba Wheat Pool was created in 1924 as a mechanism to allow for the co-operative marketing of wheat by Manitoba producers by the United Farmers of Manitoba. The Manitoba Wheat Pool was initially intended to be a provisional organization until the establishment of an interprovincial Pool, but when Alberta and Saskatchewan established their own permanent Pools the United Farmers decided to do the same. The Manitoba Pool was different from the SK and AB Pools in that the municipality was the primary unit of organization; members belonged to their municipal Pool associations first, rather than having direct membership with the central Manitoba Wheat Pool. Manitoba Pool Elevators was established in 1925 as a subsidiary of the Pool in response to local members complaints about the unfair business practices of privately owned elevators. The private elevators also slowed up the shipment of grain to the Central Selling Agency employed by the Wheat Pool, acting as a barrier between the local Pools and the Manitoba Wheat Pool. Once established MPE quickly began to build new elevators and aquire privately owned elevators.
MPE's approach to marketing grain promised to stabilize the market price of grain and ensure a fair market price to producers. Initially the Manitoba Wheat Pool was very successful. However, in 1930, the Manitoba Wheat Pool found itself burdened with an unsold surplus from the preceding year that had been bought from the farmers at a price that was significantly higher than any possible return during the Depression. As a result, in 1931 the Manitoba Wheat Pool's Central Selling Agency defaulted on its bank loans. Despite attempts to save the organization, it was forced to declare bankruptcy in November 1932. The financial difficulties of the Wheat Pool had little to no effect on the Pool Elevators, and so this former subsidiary organization became the main Manitoba Pool organization. This change meant MPE had to reorganize, which they were able to do with funds from the provincial government. The company was successful enough in subsequent years that it was able to finish repaying the Manitoba government a full year early in 1949.
MPE did not limit itself to grain handling; they wished to enrich the lives of rural families through education and to provide economic stability through diversification.
MPE established a lending reference library for members and a traveling library for rural families in 1926. With the passing of the Public Libraries Act in 1948, the province took over responsibility for providing rural families with books. MPE decided that since their traveling library would no longer be needed when rural libraries were established, the best course of action was to donate their library to the Provincial government. They also established and supported programs that educated young people about agriculture and ag business.
Subsidiary companies that dealt with course grains, livestock, packing and fertilizer were established by MPE to streamline and stabilize business for its members.
1961 marked the high water mark for the number of local associations within Manitoba Pool Elevators with 225 local associations. After this date the associations began to amalgamate and consolidate. Improvements in rural roads and rail systems and increases in the size of farms and mechanization of farm labour meant that fewer elevators were needed to service all members and regions. These changes led to an organizational restructuring of Manitoba Pool Elevators in 1968. Membership became direct, and the main unit of organization became the central office. The central office administrated the Pool through districts, which were further subdivided into sub-districts. The locals which were formally the main organizational unit came under the immediate direction of the sub-district they were located in. Local association could opt out of this system if they wished, but by 1975 all but 29 associations had become part of the new structure.
In 1998 Manitoba Pool Elevators merged with the Alberta Wheat Pool to form Agricore Co-operative, Ltd. In 2001 this organization merged with the United Grain Growers to become Agricore United, and in 2007 AU was taken over by the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool; the new company is currently known as Viterra.
The bulk of this fonds was accessioned in 1975, when the forerunner to the McKee Archives at Brandon University, the Rural Resource Center, was founded. The original mandate of the Rural Resource Center was to house the records of the Manitoba Pool Elevators. Previous to this, most of the fonds was stored at MPE's head office in Winnipeg. Many accruals to this collection have since taken place, with some of the larger ones being received in 1997, 2001, and 2002.
Scope and Content
Fonds contains records dealing with every aspect of the Manitoba Pool Elevators organization, from the events leading to its formation in the 1920's, to its amalgamation as part of Agricore beginning in the late 1990's.
Fonds includes records of the local co-operative elevator associations established in the period 1925 - 1968 under the Co-operative Associations Act including: organizational papers; minutes of executive boards; minutes of shareholders annual meetings; financial statements; correspondence; membership lists; and miscellaneous documents.
Also to be found are: documents related to the Royal Commission re the Manitoba Pool Elevators Limited ca. 1931; miscellaneous reports and submissions documents (1925 -1952); central office papers consisting of annual reports, circulars to local co-operative elevator associations and documents related to various other activities of the Manitoba Pool Elevators organization. Fonds also contains documents pertaining to the Manitoba Co-operative Poultry Marketing Association Limited and its successor, the Manitoba Dairy and Poultry Co-operative Limited, and related agencies.
Other items in the fonds (dating from the 1890's to 2001) include: books acquired for the Manitoba Pool Elevator Library, including a complete run of both the Scoop Shovel (MPE's first newspaper)and the Manitoba Cooperator; photographs; slides; audiotapes; and reel-to-reel videos.
Finally, the fonds contains a small number of miscellaneous items such as banners, and company issued briefcases.
This fonds is organized into four series, (A) Local Association records, (B) Central Office Records, (C) Subsidiary Companies and Co-operatives, (D) Commissions, Committees and Inquiries
Description by Mike White (2002), revised and enlarged by Jillian Sutherland (2009-2010).
History/Bio taken from F.W. Hamilton, "Service at Cost: A History of the Manitoba Pool Elevators 1925-1975" (Saskatoon: Modern Press) and from records within the fonds.
Preparation of this description made possible in part by a generous grant from the Brandon University Student's Union Work Study Program 2009.