Pioneer CO-OP

History - 1997


Stewart Valley Branch was a part of the Swift Current Gas and Oil Co. and became a branch of Pioneer Co-op when it was incorporated in 1936. In 1931 or 1932, Jacob Bay, who had a grocery store in Stewart Valley, acted as fuel retailer for Swift Current Gas and Oil. Havelock Call was the truck driver and delivered the fuel from Swift Current. A little later, N.E. (Cy) Cowan was hired as manager of the Stewart Valley Branch and Francis Hovdestad was hired as truck driver. In 1936, Cy assumed the job of Manager in Swift Current and Francis became Manager in Stewart Valley. An oil shed and office were built on the site occupied by the present store. A scale and hand pump were installed in the oil shed. Bulk tanks were erected on the C.P. R. property across the road. Pipes connected the bulk tanks to an underground tank by the oil shed. Farmers brought their barrels and the manager placed them on the scale and hand pumped them full to the required weight. The finger measurement system was also used. In 1952 the oil shed and office were torn down and replaced with the present store. Living quarters for the manager were added to the store. The oil shed was rebuilt across the road next to the bulk tanks. In 1956 the Co-op bought part of the Revelstoke property and lumber shed and moved the lumber shed to its present location behind the store. In 1960 water and sewer services were put into Stewart Valley. The Co-op built a 10' x 20' addition onto the living quarters for a bathroom and utility room. In 1967 a lot was purchased and a new house was built to be used by the manager. The residence attached to the store was made part of the store and is the present grocery section and coffee bar. A new warehouse in 1984 was added to the Stewart Valley Branch. STEWART VALLEY MANAGERS Cy Cowan, Francis Hovdestad, Ross Campbell, Fred Stewart, Arne Tomlinson, John Wagner, Isadore Bonogofski, Bill Nixon, Ken Wall, Elden Trytten, Gerald Shaw, Mel Sutton, Darrel Tangen.

Probably due to the depression the Neville Co-operative Association was formed in 1936. Some of the first directors were Charlie Davis, Hugh English, Tom Murphy and John Carleton. There are no doubt a couple more who should be added to this list but we are unable to find any records so we had to rely on people's memories. The first manager was Harry McNavin and his wife Mary was the secretary and bookkeeper. The Neville Co-op started out supplying fuel and other basic farming needs. In 1944 it expanded into more of a general store. Other early managers were Witney Randall, Lloyd Olson and Dave Hamm. In 1952 Neville Co-op amalgamated with Pioneer Co-op. It is believed the first manager under Pioneer was George Lindholm followed by Leroy Theissen, Jake Janzen, Harry Kelford, Gerald Shaw, Denis Fox, Daryl Linder, Angus Schneider, and presently Bill Twist. In 1959, Pioneer Co-op purchased the Security Lumber buildings and moved up from the lot where the bulk tanks are now. At this time they expanded into the lumber business. Within a few years the former store was moved up to the present location and used as a feed shed and storage for other things like cement and finishing lumber. In 1975 when Neville's last grocery store was closing. Pioneer sold bonds to help build an extension on the south side of the hardware. They then went into a complete line of groceries. At the present time Bill Twist is manager. We handle a full line of petroleum products, feeds, groceries, hardware, farm supplies and lumber. That a man is a success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained respect of intelligent men and the love of children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who leaves the world better than he found it; whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem or a rescued soul; who never lacked appreciation of earth's beauty or failed to express it; who looks for the best in others and gave the best he had. Robert I.. Stevenson

The Tompkins Co-operative Association was originated in the late 1930's when the late Allie Chamber's Right Way grocery was taken over by a group of Tompkins people, of whom John McEwan, Pete Paulsen, Carl Hansvaal, Ole Moen, A.C. Murray, E.J. McGregor, Frank Wolfater, Gus Wallms, J. Dagnais, were a part. This operation was comprised of grocery outlet, fuel shed and tanks, and a feed shed against CPR tracks. The Kerosene, Distolate and feed outlet was operated by Hugh Magee for several years. Then in 1946 Wm. Wiens took over until 1951, at which time Tony Hunt ran the combined operation, including the grocery over town. The Grocery Operation moved to the Chapman Building on the comer by Armeneau's Machine Shop in the early 40's, run by Otto Leoppky, later by his brother Bernard. This grocery outlet was moved to present Dixon Hardware (Arthan's) in the mid 40's and saw managers Earl Jenkins, Jack James and later Con Moe. This autonomous co-op operated until amalgamation with Pioneer Co-op in 1954. One employee for a number of years was Hans Arson, who handled meat and butcher chores. At this time Tony Hunt was a clerk. Randy Peterson and lona Blanchard both worked for the Co-op during the early years. In 1951 Tony Hunt managed the grocery, followed by Royce Stinson from Swift Current. Ross Lee was manager for several years, marrying Aleatha Lindsay while with us. Sid Munt came next, followed by Ken Wallace. Wes Baragar and his wife worked both in the Tompkins store and at Gull Lake until his health forced him to retire in the early 70's. Gibson's hardware was added to the operation mid 70's and Greg Rieter handled the combined operation, spending a lot of time dashing across the street from one to the other. Graham Cammell was in the store at the time. Ron Elkington took over as manager in the late 70's and continued until 1988. Brian McGillivray is the present manager. Over the years, the grocery outlet has been a breakeven operation, providing service to the community; being the only grocery in town for the last 20 years. Gerry Doucet, general manager told of coming to a local committee meeting in 1961, and recommending that the operation be closed down, as it was a determent to Pioneer Co-op. For a number of years there was a joint branch committee with Gull Lake. Late 1960's saw a rejuvenated interest and a 5-8 member committee established. In 1985-86 with exhilarated local committee support, a new enlarged store became a reality. With increased local patronage and support, the facility will service our community for many years to come.

GULL LAKE STORE The Gull Lake Co-operative started in 1912 as a local of the Saskatchewan Grain Growers Association. In 1914 it was organized as the Gull Lake Co-operative Association with capital stock of $4,500.00. In 1917 stock reached $50,000 and the Co-op store was built (now Kirwan Equipment). In 1921 capital stock reached $113,000 and John F. Potter was secretary manager. As business boomed many bad debts were accumulated, and the Co-op went into receivership. The town sold it out in Oct. 1933 at a sale that grossed $1896.35. Mary Brown, a long time employee, recalled the original Co-op having a sale, and her mother buying a pair of high button shoes for her sister Lil, costing $.25; but not of the current style. Lil scuffed her way to school, trying to wear them out before she got there. Later in the forties a new Gull Lake Co-op was organized and bought out Joe Daniels' store (present site). Later the Gull Lake and Antelope Co-op amalgamated, and the Antelope building (1951) was moved into the present Farm Centre site. Gull Lake amalgamated with Pioneer Co-op in July 1951. Current Managers are Janet Rezlaff, Store, and Curtiss Jones, Farm Centre.

The Kyle Co-op came into being as an incorporated body on December 27, 1920 as the Kyleville Farmers Co-operative Trading Association Limited, with an authorized share capital of $50,000 consisting of 500 shares of $100 each. The actual payment was $5.00, the rest being made up of patronage. The object of the association was to "produce and purchase and sell farm supplies". Those signing the Memorandum were: A.M. Wick, E.A. Nelson, K.E. Long, T.E. Helsa, Aksel J. Sands, Ed Pederson, J.E.W. Mathews, J.C. Birtch, Thos. Closs, O.H. Gunderson, Ronald Smith, J.G. Gillespie, O.A. Strom, C. Hartman, Wm. Teets, Donald Bruce, S.R. Omland, Henry Thompson, H.J. Bird, O.P. Mindrum, and D.O. Nore. Due to the fact that there was no railway closer than 30 miles to Kyleville, the association did not actually engage in business until 1925, although they held yearly meetings in order to keep their charter. When the Home Bank, Cabri branch, went into receivership in late 1923, the association lost every dollar and was left so destitute of funds it did not possess the price of a postage stamp. During the 1925-26 years, trading consisted of a few carloads of coal, wood, slabs, and binder twine. A carload of lumber was brought in, having been made possible by a loan from one of the directors, I.H. Pittman. In May 1928, the books and records of the association were destroyed in a fire of Mr. King's store, who had taken over from E.A. Nelson. In 1929, the name of the association was changed to Kyle Co-operative Association Ltd. At about the same time, it was decided that the association should handle petroleum products. As a result of a drive to increase membership, 40 new members were obtained.

Mr. E.A. Elderton was prevailed upon to take over the position of secretary-treasurer and manager of the trading activities. As the early years went by and business activities increased, Mr. Elderton devoted more and more of his time to the work until it became a full time job. In 1934, the association opened a branch in White Bear, which was closed in 1953. The year 1945 saw the addition of a grocery store purchased from G.M. Driscoll, the first manager being Elgo Schioler. The association again had a name change when it became a branch of the Pioneer Co-operative Association Limited in Swift Current in 1959, retaining local managers at both stores. Mention should be made to two employees, petroleum truck drivers, Dave Lowe who delivered fuel for 10 years and Keith Cates who has been with the Co-op for 17 years in 1986. The business has expanded from petroleum and groceries to include hardware, lumber, feed, fertilizer, chemicals, and a service bay in a new building. In 1980, the 60th Anniversary of its founding, the Co-op did a business of $1,500,000.00. Current Managers are Eric Wittrock, Store and James Power, Farm Centre.

Back in 1929, local farmers got tired of poor service and short measurement in petroleum products and started up their own Petroleum Co-op. Sim Stephenson Senior was the first president; Bill dark, local livery stable operator, was the first manager. The first gas pumps were in front of the livery stable. Second manager was Lawrence Davidson. Other products were gradually added to the inventory: feed, hardware, tires, farm chemicals. The Sanctuary Co-op amalgamated with Pioneer Co-op in 1960. Manager was Verna Bull. Sanctuary Branch closed in 1988.

The Aneroid Co-op was organized in 1923 in the building which later became J.F. Walls & Son - John Deere dealer (which is still located on the same site). Everett Baker was the first manager with J.F. Walls, G.S. Howard, and George Corbin serving on the board. The Co-op dealt in machinery, oil, grease, coal, binder twine, groceries, general merchandise, flour, and feed. The manager and assistants worked long hours, but still Everett Baker managed to write a newsletter that was regularly sent to members. These covered a variety of topics of an educational nature, as well as items pertinent to sales or use of merchandise for sale. There were also meetings that were community gatherings with some educational feature. Due to difficult times in the depression, the Co-op was forced to close in March 1931. Members were on relief, and there was little cash available for individuals or businesses. Everett Baker made this notation; "Drought, Deflation, Depression. Every resource exhausted." The people of Aneroid again organized a Co-op in 1944, located on Main Street at the present site. Fuel and oil were sold under the management of Wellington Simpson. There was also a service bay in the early years. In 1960 the Co-op bought out Harold Elliott's store, at which time groceries and some dry goods were added to the stock, as well as an increase in hardware. At this time both stores were operational. Due to ever increasing costs of transportation and small volume buying, it became very difficult to continue as a small co-operative. In order to have the support of a larger organization with the advantage of volume buying, the Aneroid Co-op amalgamated with Pioneer Co-op Association, Swift Current in 1969, becoming a branch of that association. In order to cut down expenses and utilize staff more efficiently the Elliott store building was sold in 1974 and the Co-op building across the street remodelled to accommodate groceries as well as hardware. The Co-op now provided groceries, hardware, feed, oil, bulk fuel, and car gas. Some former managers not necessarily in order were as follows: George Sinclair, Wilmer Carey, Wellington Simpson, Albert Glassford, Merv Casteel, Wes Steele, Rick Munt, Wayne Targerson, Don Empey, Jack Corbin, Rod Andrew, Randy Miller, Joe Toth, Judy Empey, Steve Raymond, Ellert Dyrland and at present Bill Twist. Over the years the Co-op has supported community events and provided consumer information. It is one of the few businesses left in Aneroid and provides a vital service to the town and surrounding community.



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1150 Central Avenue North

Swift Current, SK

S9H 0G1



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