Pioneer CO-OP

History - 1955

1955 - There was some discussion about constructing a propane distribution plant, however later on in the year it was found that the zoning rules would not allow the construction of a propane plant close to the Pioneer Bulk Plant so this decision was postponed. .Also in 1955 there was considerable discussion regarding the possible purchase of Pioneer Transport, a company which was transporting fuel for Pioneer Co-op from the refinery in Regina. These negotiations went on most of 1955 but did not resolve in any successful deal being completed and in early 1956 the board decided to go into the purchase TOMPKINS CO-OP of their own tanker fleet. Also in 1955 plans were introduced for building a store in Main Centre, a store which would handle hardware and building supplies but no groceries. Construction began later in the year and near the end of 1955 the building was complete and Main Centre store was in business selling hardware and building supplies. 1956 - Early January the board recorded a decision to go into the plumbing business for the first time and later in the year they okayed plans to construct a plumbing shop on 3rd West. The minutes recorded also that the first trucking unit was on the road on May 1 of that year and the second unit went later in June. These trucks were to haul fuel from the refinery in Regina to Pioneer Coop and to its branches. 1956 saw the opening of a new radio station in Swift Current, C.K.S.W. and one of the programs on the air almost immediately was entitled "Co-operatives in Southwestern Saskatchewan" and at their April meeting, the board okayed the decision for Pioneer Co-op to become part of that new radio program. Also in late 1956, a decision was made to eliminate clothing that was for sale at 4th N.W. and introduce an appliance department instead. Decisions were made to close the service bay in Main Centre and add groceries and build some lumber sheds at Neville and Main Centre. 1957 - The April meeting of 1957 showed a motion where Pioneer Co-op withdrew from the Co-op Union. Also in 1957 the decision was made to purchase a number of lots (number 2 to 13) on the southside with the idea of future expansion. 1958 - In early 1958 the board was informed that before the company could purchase these lots on the southside, they had to show what their plans were for construction and they also had to agree to build within two years. With this in mind, in May 1958, the board agreed to purchase the southside property. In October 1958 the minutes show

that plans were starting to be put together to build on the southside with the General Manager and other members of the board to go to the U.S. to see similar structures. 1959 - The July meeting showed the presentation of the first southside plans to the board. The cost of these plans one month later showed that they were very high and required some changes. There was expansion going on at Gull Lake with Service Station Bay under construction. Neville expansion was now open and the lumber shed in the city was also in operation by November 1959. 1960 - By the April meeting of 1960 new southside plans were in. The cost was more reasonable and the plans were approved by the board. At this April meeting, Kyle and Sanctuary Co-operatives talked about amalgamation and this amalgamation was approved by the annual meeting in June. In late 1960 Kyle and Sanctuary became branches of Pioneer Co-op. In June 1960 the okay was given to begin the

construction of the southside service station. The annual meeting also approved in 1960 of increasing the share capital for Pioneer Cooperative from $1 million to $1.25 million. The southside service station was opened on November 1, and construction started on the store on the southside. 1961 - In early 1961 some changes were introduced in the administration of Pioneer Co-op. The position of Executive Vice-President was introduced and Mr. Baker filled this position. In addition, the position of Treasurer was opened with Joe Kristiniyak becoming the first treasurer of Pioneer Co-op. Later in the year Mr. David Dean was appointed as General Manager of Pioneer Co-op.

new southside store was officially opened on July 6th which was the 25th Anniversary of the beginning of the Pioneer Co-op. The opening was quite successful and was followed shortly thereafter by the annual meeting which resulted in substantial change in the membership of the board. Following this meeting and the first board meeting thereafter saw the resignation of Mr. Baker as the General Manager and the resignation of a number of administrative officials of Pioneer Co-op. In late July 1961, Mr. Gerry Doucet came into the system as the acting general manager and at the end of August the Board named Mr. Doucet the General Manager of the company. A position he held until his retirement in 1989. 1962 - Due to the opening of extra space at the southside and perhaps due also to the fact that 1961 had seen a drought through Southwestern Saskatchewan, the statement was starting to show a bit of a loss. Early in 1962 the board spent a fair bit of time talking about consolidation of their outlets. There was discussion of removing groceries from the 4th N.W. location and renting the space to someone else. Also during 1962 the board put on the books a policy that candidates for election to the board must have purchased at least $500.00 in the previous twelve months. During this period (1962 and carrying on into 1963) there was considerable discussion at the board level regarding the support of the Educational Federation which had been set up amongst the Co-ops in Southwestern Saskatchewan. No firm decisions were made at this point. Pioneer Co-op went from offering two scholarships to graduating high school students to offering five - $100.00 scholarships. Three of these were to be tenable in the City of Swift Current and two to high school students in the surrounding territory, particularly in the towns where Pioneer Co-op had a branch. 1963 - One of the very significant things that was started in 1963 by the Board of Pioneer Co-op was to set up a formal policy on branch committees. At this point Pioneer Co-op had a number of branches and it was felt by the board that it would be good to have branch committees - something in the order of five to seven people - and that committees would meet on a regular basis to make recommendations to the board regarding what things should be happening in their branches. A constitution covering these branches was put together at this time. Also early in 1963 there was continued discussion on doing some renovating or at least making some changes to Central Ave. store. Some engineering reports had been made indicating that the concrete was not suitable for adding to the Central Ave. building as it now stood and so the decision was made that a general face lift for the building should be undertaken. Later on in the year (April) the new Plaza Shopping Centre on the west side of Central Ave. was announced and the board became sure it was necessary to hurry up the consolidation and probably increase some of the renovations that they had in mind at Central Ave. With that in mind in July they approved renovations to the Central Ave. store to be completed in early 1964, (some $40,000 in fixtures and $60,000 in building renovation). At the same time they talked about renting 6,000 square feet of space at the 4th West location to the department of Highways. In December we see a motion on the books approving the rental of space at the N.W. location to -the Dept. of Highways and to other government departments as well. Only the Farm Hardware and the offices remained in operation of the 4th N.W. location. Grocery operations were closed down-at that location. 1964 - During 1964 the company was involved primarily in completing some renovations at the Central Ave. location. They were still concerned about adding to that building at that location and with that in mind were examining the possibility of assembling property along North Railway Street and also some other property in that block in which the Central Ave. store was located. At the end of the year they made an offer on some of the property on Railway North. 1965 - In February the board approved a grant of $2000.00 to the Civic Centre fund. The Civic Centre was being built as a 60th Provincial Anniversary project. Later on in the year the board made the decision to hire an agriculturist on staff and in May of that year Jim Puckett became the Farm Supply specialist on staff. Some renovations were carried out at the Kyle store and the need for more grocery and meat space at both southside and central was mentioned. There was talk about the feasibility of a service station at the junction of Highways No. 1 and 4. 1966 - The board talked about building a car wash at the Southside. In May there was indication from the Department of Public Health and Highways that they would like to have an additional 5,000 square feet of rental space at 4th N.W. The board also okayed the purchase of a half block of property directly across the street from the bulk plant. Later on in the year they decided to rent additional space to the Public Works at 4th West and keep only the Administration office space for their own use. They also made the decision to proceed with the building of the Farm Supply building on the new property across from the bulk plant. 1967 - There was discussion with Vanguard regarding possible amalgamation, but it did not occur. In September 1967 Pioneer Co-op and employees became involved in a strike. In late 1967 and early 1968 the board became very much aware that it was going to be necessary to try to put together a block of land somewhere in the downtown area if they were going to try and build a new department store. With that in mind they took a look at purchasing at least portions of block No. 72. It soon became obvious that it was going to be very difficult to put together a whole block and so very costly. In fact estimates of putting together the block of sufficient property around the Central Ave. location to build a department store, showed the land alone would probably cost something in the area of $1 million. That price was considered to be prohibitive by the board at that time. Amalgamation with the Aneroid Co-op began to be discussed and in 1968 and in 1969 Aneroid became a branch of Pioneer Co-op. In 1969 Pioneer Co-op began to look at trying to put together enough land in the block of 4th N.W. between 3rd and 4th Avenues to put their new department store. With this in mind they purchased the Houston John Deere property which was on the comer of Cheadle and 3rd N.W. Also in 1969 there is discussion of possible amalgamation with Ponteix and later in the year possible amalgamation with Hazlet. Neither of these amalgamations occured. Right at the end of 1969 the board decided to renovate the Central Ave. Coffee Bar. It was completed and opened in June 1970. 1970 also saw the beginning of talks with Hodgeville Co-op regarding amalgamation. This amalgamation did occur a few months later. 1971 - In late December there was a fire at the Farm Centre which had just opened in 1967. While it was closed down for renovations, some additional space was added on. 1971 saw a decision made to consolidate the two outlets in Aneroid. They closed down the grocery store and sold groceries and the farm hardware out of the Farm Centre building. Discussion was still going on regarding possible expansion and there was even consideration during late 1971 of the possibility of purchasing the Plaza Shopping Centre. However, after careful examination, they decided that was not what Pioneer needed at that point. The board, also at this time (late 1971), asked Federated Co-operatives Ltd. to carry out an expansion survey in early 1972. 1972 - The annual meeting increased the share capital of Pioneer Co-operative to $3 million. The decision was made to purchase the F.C.L. warehouse in Swift Current and to pay out all non-profit organization equities in full. There was talk with Gary Brown of Woolworths, who indicated they wanted to build north of town. The board felt that at this point in time Pioneer had three choices to make: They could expand at Central Avenue, try to develop a shopping centre at 4th West on their own, or they could become involved with Woolworths and others in a development north of town.

 

 

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