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J. J. Siemens - A leading figure in the Community life of the Altona area. He was born in 1896 on the Schoenthal home­ stead of his father Johann Siemens. After finishing grade school, he took his high school education in the MEl in Altona, and then attended Normal School in Altona in preparation for a teaching career. After teaching for ten years he took over the family farm when his father retired just before the depression. An ardent co-oper­ ator Siemens helped organize the Rhine­ land Agricultural Society in 1931, the Rhineland Consumers' Co-operative, and Co-op Vegetable Oils Ltd. He was also the founder of the Manitoba Co-operative Wholesale and a charter member of the Manitoba Sugar Beet Growers Associa­ tion. He died on July 7, 1963 at the age of 67.

Credit: CSP Foods

and their farms. 22 Like the co-operative movement in Great Britain and Europe, where it had first asserted itself, the co-operative movement in southern Manitoba arose as a reaction to the economic and social problems confronting small farmers.

As industrialization and urbanization altered European civilization, as tech­ nological advances and the development of large scale farming undermined traditional European agriculture, many people were left victimized and root­ less in societies they did not understand."

These same forces were in operation in Rhineland in the 1920's and 1930's and when the depression aggravated the lot of farmers many turned to co-operative enterprises.

The first co-operative business venture in Rhineland was organized in 1931 with the formation of the Rhineland Consumers Co­ operative. The need for relief from high oil prices had been obvious since the 1920's when the Farmers' Oil Company had been formed. Run by volunteers, however, this Company had been plagued with man­ agerial problems. By 1931 farmers in Rhineland were ready to organize a new co-operative gasoline business. Following a series of meetings a provisional board of directors was elected to proceed with the organiza­ tion of a co-operative which would sell gas, oil, grease, binder twine and other items needed by farmers in large quantities.