The Lloydminster and District Agricultural Co-operative Association (Co-op) was founded in 1914 by the united efforts of determined men from the community and surrounding district.
Written by David W. Paterson, a local pastor and published in 1964, The Lloydminster Story is a detailed compilation of this grassroots community organization.
In 1914 gopher tails were worth three cents, coal oil sold for $10.60 a barrel, pigs sold for less than seven cents per pound (weighing charges were 10 cents per pig) and an average day’s wages working as a farm hand was $1.25.
Co-operatives were not new to the Barr Colonists as they had experienced the benefits in England.
Even before they left and journeyed to the vast prairie in the Dominion of Canada, money was sent to Rev. Isaac M. Barr for medical and supply shares.
Goods were needed on their trek across the country and when they arrived at their destination.
“Co-operative enterprise” may have had diverse meanings to some folks and unfortunately minimal arrangements were made in advance.
Upon arrival, the first attempt at a co-operative store was undertaken by Nathaniel Jones who sold a variety of supplies inside a tent.
Following Barr’s quick exodus from the colony, supplies were divided up so the Barr Colonists would each have their fair share.
Eventually this marquee tent was closed and the government took over the provision of supplies within the Immigration Hall.
As the small colony quickly grew, it was only natural that these first attempts were no longer necessary as several general stores opened.
In spite of this, folks did not forget the importance of British co-operatives and its combined purchasing power to control prices, distribute and market their goods.
The grain growers needed to work together and socialism grew advocating for community ownership of its resources.
Bulk buying through the Saskatchewan Grain Growers Association allowed local farmers to purchase supplies at better prices.
By February 1914 the Co-operative Act was passed by the government and each district was asked to appoint two members to attend a meeting at the Greenwood School to discuss the formation of a co-operative association.
Response was so great that it was changed to a public meeting.
Led by Stanley Rackham (Cambridge’s first agricultural graduate) and attended by many folks, the motion to form a Lloydminster and District Co-operative Association with a capital of $5000 derived from 200 shares selling at $25 each ($10 paid up front) was unanimously carried.
Its original objectives were, “to produce livestock, grain or any kind of farm products, to market the livestock and other farm products which the shareholders or others may produce and to purchase farm supplies for shareholders or others upon the co-operative plan.”
This was a producer-consumer business concept. The incorporation fee of $3.55 was eagerly paid in full.
The annual meeting was held with both shareholders and non-shareholders attending. Shares must be paid in full before patronage dividends could be accumulated.
Interestingly, non-shareholders had their dividends held until they were sufficiently accumulated to equal the value of one share.
At this point a share certificate would be issued. The policy of cash and carry, which unquestionably was a financial burden in 1914 for many folks continued.
All orders for the Co-op required a 25 percent deposit in cash. If these goods were not picked up and paid for within five days of arrival, this deposit was forfeited.
Money wasn’t plentiful though and storekeepers continued to extend credit for customer purchases.
These two business policies demonstrate how strongly some folks believed in developing a co-operative and what it would mean overall in providing a better way of life for Lloydminster folks.
Lloydminster’s pioneers were the catalyst that built the Co-op into the multi-million dollar operation it is today.
This development involving community folks began with their British influence and survived many trials.
One could reason it was destiny or on the other hand maintain it was the culmination of very ambitious, determined, shrewd, confident and persuasive men – seeing a need and taking the lead.
From its first permanent home (1915) in an 18 foot by 24 foot repurposed stable, service was the heart of the Co-op.
Excerpts in part from The Lloydminster Story 1964 publication.