Quest in Roots:
Brookdale Manitoba History

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THE BROOKDALE POOL ELEVATOR

The western grain industry began with the first settlers. They soon had surplus grain to market.

This was bagged and hauled to the nearest market or shipping point. As railways came in, elevators, private and otherwise, were built and this made marketing much simpler. But many farmers were not happy. Two of the problems were - first, too much money was lost to speculators in the Winnipeg Grain Exchange and - second, the suspicion that local elevator agents might be taking more dockage than was legitimate. Hence the feeling that hard earned money was going out of the window.

The establishment of Commodity Co-operatives was advocated as a solution to the problem. The three steps taken to accomplish this were - 1. To set up a Commission firm to operate on the Winnipeg Grain Exchange.

2. To persuade as many farmers as possible to sign contracts to sell their grain through the said Commission firm.

3. The Commission firm would sell all the wheat for a year. An initial price would. be given to the farmers at the time of delivery, and full settlement would be made at the end of the crop year, based on the average price received for all of the wheat.

This was done and in 1926 the Commission firm became known as the Manitoba Wheat Pool.

Since the Brookdale farmers who had joined the "Pool" did not have elevator facilities they unloaded their grain into the box cars by any means available. A few had portable elevators and used these to unload their wagons from the ditch. Others unloaded from the siding platform with scoop shovels. This did not seem right. So on April 17, 1929, a shareholders'' meeting was called to authorize the building of an elevator. They organized as a local association with a local Board of Directors which had full powers to conduct local affairs. For more complex problems they could call on the expertise of the Head Office whose counsel they had the power to accept or reject. The members of the first board were: H.L. Simpson, Thomas Craig, W.J. Kinney, W.A. Rogers, H.B. Dennis, E.S.

McDonald, as chairman; and A.W. Moffatt, secretary.

The board''s first action was to authorize the Manitoba Pool Elevators to build a 30,000 bushel capacity elevator west of the U.G.G. elevator. It was to be equipped with an Emerson Cylinder Cleaner and electric lights with generator were to be installed.

On May 30, a special meeting was held. It was voted that they were not satisfied with the quality of the lumber used or the condition of the cement, and that construction was to be halted until proper inspection could be made. That same summer Armour Taylor was hired as elevator operator at $135 a month. But hard times were just around the corner and, in 1931, his salary was cut to $70 a month. In 1936, patrons of the elevator were made shareholders by the issuing of one share to each patron at a cost of one dollar to be paid for by the association.

Roy Charles was hired in June 1937 at $75 a month for the crop year 1937·38. Roy stayed with the association as elevator operator until August 1, 1969. Roy proved dependable, loyal and successful in attracting a large volume of business for the association. He was presented with a gold watch when he retired. He was missed by all. Roy was succeeded by John Veldman and Dennis Hunter.

Then came D. Casson, 1974·75 and after him Bruce Beare, who remained until the elevator closed on July 31, 1978, and shipped the last kernel of wheat out of Brookdale by rail.

The successive boards were progressive in their way of doing business. In 1940, it became necessary to build a balloon annex to store grain due to the war effort and congestion of the elevator.

In 1952, the same congestion prevailed and a new Overgaard annex was built with three bins and an auger at the bottom for unloading. In 1945, the board authorized that a cottage be built to house the elevator operator and his family. The cottage was to be equipped with furnace and electric power.

In 1951,20 ton scales were installed to accommodate the large truck loads of grain being delivered. To make moving railway cars easier, a car pull was installed in 1954. This was formerly done with a pinch bar. Dust removal equipment was installed with a projection down into the grain pits for the comfort and health of patrons and staff. In 1951, an electronic moisture tester was purchased to replace the old boil in oil method. This was a great saver of time for both operator and farmers.

The board fostered the training of the youth in the district. They offered bursaries to students, sponsored children to summer camps, offered bonspiel prizes, 4-H prizes, and overall sought to train youth for leadership in their community.

The successive boards sought valiantly to retain the service of the railroad. They attended hearings of the Canadian Transport Commission.

The case was so well presented by their lawyer, Mr.

Scarth, that the Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker, delayed the abandonment of the branch line for 15 years so that the communities involved could adjust to the change. However, from that time on, any repairs to the elevator were based on that time period.At a meeting in 1969, the members of the association voted to dissolve their association and join the parent body, the Manitoba Pool Elevators, and elected a local committee with delegates to represent them at meetings of the Manitoba Pool Elevators. This was not considered a change for the better, but rather a change enabling the membership to meet the conditions associated with the abandonment of the railway, and to share in the earnings of the company with its grain handling facilities.

The last action of the local committee on January 15, 1980 was to donate $50 to the U.C.W.

for the production of a cook book. Any money left over was to be distributed evenly between the Brookdale Community Club and the Brookdale Drop-In Center. Then it was voted to disband after all accounts had been settled.

"Service at Cost" was the motto of the association. There were considerable savings generated for shareholders through the years, and also for the farmers who dealt with the competition.

The other elevator companies competed fiercely for the grain business by offering higher grades, lower dockage, etc. But wherever possible, the farmers did continue loyally to deliver their grain to the "Pool", so that it enjoyed the biggest share of the grain business for many years.

The association may be seen as a young man at the beginning of life, full of high ideals, full of strength and vigor, making his way felt in the community in which he lived, concerned about the future of his children, concerned about their training and well being. And having accomplished that, his strength waning, settling back on his laurels, seeing the things he worked so hard to attain take wings and flyaway. But not completely; Manitoba Pool Elevators still remains to offer "Service at Cost", and the Canadian Wheat Board to finance and sell the grain.

 

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