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Salmon Arm Farmers' Exchange
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Salmon Arm orchardists organized a co-operative for access to wider markets for apple produce. By banding together, their shipping and packing expenses were minimized. The first shareholders' meeting May 1, 1907 formed a local under the B.C. Fruit and Produce Exchange. Chairman of the first meeting was J.D. McGuire. L.B. Pangman was appointed Secretary. Five Directors included J.W. McCallum, L.B. Pangman, W.F. Buchan, Banks, and C. Brookes. At the May 8, 1907 meeting, a constitution was formulated under the Articles of Association, Bylaws, Rules & Regulations, in the name of The Salmon Arm Farmers' Exchange.
Salmon Arm's first shipping cooperative had begun. The Exchange building was constructed by the firm Jackson and Parker for $800. When the Exchange opened for business, the growers were able to charge farming supplies. The first year operated at a loss due to poor management, lack of standards and quality, a shortage of packers and a limited facility.
G.G. Barber, farmer and country store keeper from Sintaluta, Saskatchewan, saw an advertisement in the Salmon Arm Observer for Manager, Fruit Growers' Association. Barber's application was successful. He spent the next two years travelling to market apples for the fruit growers. He standardized the shipments and quality of fruit. Eventually, the growers got a return. In 1909, Barber moved to Salmon Arm as full time Manager. That fall the operation expanded to include flour, feed, building supplies and hardware sales. During the winter of 1913-1914, an apple packing school was established. Prestigious apple awards were won and the Exchange prospered.
Growth meant larger quarters were needed. A new building was constructed next to the C.P.R. (Canadian Pacific Railway) track on Front Street. Construction costs were well under the $5000 budget. Extras were added. Ground floor walls and ceiling were completely insulated making it "practically frost free", a great advantage. An elevator was installed, a cement floor put in the basement, an office built, and the building's exterior painted, all for under $7000. The new building opened July 23, 1912. Growth and expansion was tremendous. Operations expanded to include a retail business. Local merchants complained to the C.P.R., which leased land to the Exchange, saying a retail store violated lease terms. The outcome: S.A.F.E. Limited, a new retail outlet.
In 1914 the Exchange acquired Armstrong Sawmill's box factory and lumber business in Salmon Arm, to construct their own apple boxes. In 1925 a cooling plant was installed. A cold storage plant was built in 1934. The feed store was added to in 1942. In 1944 the sawmill was purchased. A packing and cold storage plant was built at Canoe in 1946. In 1954 the Exchange purchased Shuswap Feeds and became agents for Purity Flour Mills and other product lines. Exchange took over West Bend Motors and became a Shell Oil Garage in 1955.
Apple production reached its peak in 1946. The next year fruit shipments peaked. Inclement weather followed in 1948 and the year was marked by a destructive hail storm and heavy apple scab infestation. In winter of 1949-1950, an extreme deep freeze occurred, killing many fruit trees. The combination of cold weather and scab infestation repeated in 1955, causing apple production to decline significantly. The farming economy plummeted. Between 1955-1956 the Canoe packing and cold storage plant was converted to a quick freeze plant for soft fruits, vegetables, and jam processing. After the fruit industry petered out, an agreement was signed in 1958 with the Vernon Fruit Union to act as marketing agent for Exchange produce. The Vernon Fruit Union purchased the cold storage machinery and used the Canoe buildings.
Between 1957 and 1958 The Brackman-Ker Milling Co. Ltd. made inquiries to purchase the Flour and Feed Department. In 1958 the Garage closed. Sawmill activities ceased. Concerns arose over the large loan that carried the Sawmill's overall operation. The question to sell the mill was put to the membership.
The sale of the Sawmill was approved by members April 25, 1956. Directors concluded a final agreement with Federated Cooperatives Limited. However, the membership was discontented. The Board of Directors management was questioned. At a special meeting called in June, 1956, the Board of Directors resigned. Federated Cooperatives Limited withdrew its offer to purchase the complete Sawmill operation. Two years later Federated submitted another offer. On July 11, 1958 they purchased the timber sales licenses, saw log inventory, decked logs, and contracts for all logging and cutting rights and privileges. In the fall of 1958, Mr. D.F. Turner offered to purchase the Exchange's Sawmill equipment and property, subject to approval by Federated Cooperatives Limited.
With fruit marketed elsewhere, there was no longer a need for a supporting infrastructure. The assets including the Flour and Feed Department, Box Factory, Sawmill, Garage, timber sale licenses and inventory were either sold or dismantled. The need for the Salmon Arm Farmers' Exchange was eliminated. On May 25, 1959 The Salmon Arm Farmers' Exchange sold to Shuswap Consumers' Co-operative Association (newly incorporated in 1958). The final chapter of Salmon Arm's first shipping operation was ended.
Salmon Arm, B.C.
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