From The Archives: AWP port strike takes toll on grain exports

This aerial view of the main canal of the St. Mary irrigation project in southern Alberta is dated July 15, 1959.  |  File photo

The Western Producer takes a weekly look at some of the stories that made headlines in issues of the paper from 75, 50, 25 and 10 years ago.

75 years ago: April 2, 1942

The dominion government announced a national selective service program to increase Canada’s military capability, but Prime Minister Mackenzie King promised to ensure that enough workers would be available to run the country’s farms. Farmers and their sons wouldn’t be liable to compulsory military service if they were actually working on a farm, but men who were employed in agriculture wouldn’t be able to work outside of agriculture without written permission from a national war services board.

Manitoba Premier John Bracken agreed to take 500 Japanese-Canadian families from the West Coast to work in the province’s sugar beet fields. However, he insisted that the dominion government assume full responsibility for the families, including protection against possible sabotage, and that they leave Manitoba once the military threat to British Columbia had ended.

50 years ago: April 6, 1967

Saskatchewan Wheat Pool surveyed their members and identified seven problem areas with agricultural machinery, which it presented to the Barber Royal Commission on Farm Machinery. A big problem was the deteriorating relationship between machinery prices and what farmers were paid for their products, but producers were also concerned about instruction manuals and machinery warranties.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture held a special meeting to protest the recently announced federal dairy policy for 1967-68. Delegates were particularly concerned that the “total milk price” of $4.75 per hundredweight did not in fact represent a firm undertaking to guarantee such a price to producers.

25 years ago: April 2, 1992

Strong grain movement through the West Coast took a hit from a picket line set up by striking clerical workers at the Alberta Wheat Pool terminal in Vancouver, which grain handlers then refused to cross, and a ban on Russian boats entering the port because of suspicions they were infected with gypsy moth eggs.

“It’s ironic this year when things were gearing up to such a solid performance to have something untoward like this happen,” said Bruce McFadden of the Grain Transportation Agency.

Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Berny Wiens introduced legislation that would allow farmers who lost their land to lease it back for up to six years while they got back on their feet financially.

Wiens said lease-back arrangements were already common practice, but they generally occurred for only one or two years, which wasn’t enough time to financially recover and buy back the land.

10 years ago: April 5, 2007

Sask Pool and James Richardson International continued their bidding war for Agricore United with the pool increasing its offer to $17.86 per AU share, including $8 in cash. Richardson’s bid was worth $13.79 per share, including $6.50 in cash.

The federal Conservative government announced that it would end the Canadian Wheat Board’s barley monopoly within four months. Saskatchewan Liberal MP Ralph Goodale predicted that farmers would challenge such a move in court.

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