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age of farm and consumer credit in the municipality. The farmer, needing credit for the production and marketing of crops and the purchase of land and equipment, was particularly hard hit by the failure of these credit institutions. By the winter of 1937-38 a number of Altona residents had requested the Rhineland Agricultural Society to teach a course pertaining to the principles of credit unions. Taught by E. T. Howe, the principal of the Rhineland Agricultural Institute, this course introduced the concept of credit unions to the residents of the munic ipality and by 1939 the Altona Credit Union Society had become a reality.
Organized on February 4, 1939, this credit union society consisted of 20 members whose pooled assets in shares and deposits amounted to $23.25. Of these 20, six were farmers, seven were clerks, two were printers, two were truck drivers, along with a jeweller, a labourer and a grain buyer. Through this enterprise farmers and townspeople dis covered they had much in common and that they could solve their own credit problems. By December of 1939, after only 10 months of opera tion, the Altona Credit Union had 51 members, its assets stood at $300 and twenty-one loans had been granted totalling $519.27 Not only were farmers and consumers getting access to credit, but money was circulat ing in the community.
While Altona was clearly emerging as the leading co-operative centre in the R.M. of Rhineland, co-ops were also springing up in other centres. In 1936 the Reinland Co-operative Dairy Society was formed in the Village of Reinland to cope with the problem of a milk surplus in the area. Farmers, anxious to diversify their farming operations, had in creased their dairy herds creating both a milk surplus and a decrease in the price of milk. 28
In an attempt to solve this problem a number of farmers in the Reinland area organized to establish a cheese factory. The first general meeting of this marketing co-operative was held on December 30, 1936 and by February 11, 1937, it had received its charter of incorporation. The fifty shareholders who made up this co-op investigated other cheese factories in the province and began building their own plant in early 1937. A permanent board of directors consisting of Peter W. Thiessen of S choenwiese (president), Abraham N. Friesen of Reinland (vice-president), and G. G. H. Ens of Reinland (secretary-treasurer), were elected. John Unger was hired as cheesemaker shortly thereafter, and production began in 1937.29 Strictly speaking the village of Rein land was no longer in the R.M. of Rhineland, but the operaton of its cheese factory affected Rhineland farmers, as the Co-op drew milk from six surrounding villages." By the end of the 1930's milk process-