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Wanstead Co-op History

Wanstead Farmers Co-operative is celebrating its 100th year anniversary during 2024. The Co-op has a rich history that we were lucky enough to have gotten catalogued through the years. Today, our 500+ members enjoy the benefits of a locally owned and controlled co-operative thanks to the foresight of those twenty-five original members. We are very proud of our story, and we wanted to share it with all of our members! 

1924-1974 "Half a century ago..." written by Helen E. Amos

... on January 24, 1924, a meeting was held in Edwin Morris' white frame home on the main street of Wanstead for the purpose of discussing the formation of a co-operative. For some years past the Wanstead Farmers' Club had joined with other such associations in the area and pooled their buying power to purchase coal, flour, seed and fertilizer, and to organize various social functions, but now it was thought best to petition the provincial secretary, under the Co-operative Company's Act, for permission to be incorporated as a joint stock company, capitalized at $10,000.00. This was granted, and the Wanstead Farmers' Co-operative Company, Limited, became official on April 7th, 1924. Orville Ramsay was elected president, and Arch Williamson appointed manager, Burton Ramsay, the first president's son, holds that office today. 

Original members were:--R.E. McPhedran, Calvin Hodgins, Geo. A. Dewar, P.W. McPhedran John E. Capes, Arch Williamson, Orville Ramsay, Jas. Jackson, A.G. Minielly, Henry McAuslan, Duncan Ferguson, J.C. McNeill, Herbert Tait, Alex Dawson, John Osborne, Henry Ramsay, Victor Smith, Frank Dewar, John A. McPhedran, John McAuslan, Edwin Morris, F.S. Campbell, Edgar Flemming, Jos. Stonehouse and John Armstrong. 

The initial annual shareholders' meeting was held in the Orange Hall at Wanstead on the afternoon of January 21st, 1925, the Co-op having agreed to pay $10.00 a year rent for this purpose. Victor Smith and Geo. Dewar were appointed auditors, and the following were elected to form a Board of Directors for that year: Orville Ramsay, Alex Dawson, Jas. Jackson, P.W. McPhedran, Roy E. McPhedran, Calvin Hodgins and Duncan Ferguson. A dividend of 7% was paid in 1925 to subscribers who had bought shares at $10.00 each, either in capital notes or cash, as they wished. At a Board of Directors' meeting on May 22nd, 1926, it was reported that scales had been  purchased from Lambton Loan Co. for $50.00 and an office building for $25.00, and it was moved to apply to the C.N.R. to lease enough land to accommodate these scales, and on which to build covered stock pens.

On January 13th, 1927, at the annual meeting, the manager reported that although some lines of the business showed no profit whatever, there was still a balance of $800.00, assets over liabilities, as indicated by the auditors' statement. It was moved and seconded that these gentlemen, Barret Forbes and Victor Smith, be paid $5.00 each for the past year's work, and the same amount for the coming year; whereupon it was moved by Alex Dawson and seconded by Duncan Ferguson that only $2.50 each be allowed for 1926, but the $5.00 would be given for 1927. Carried. This work is now done by Ward Audit of Ridgetown at a fee of $3,000.00 a year.

At a Board of Directors' meeting on January 24th, 1928, it was reported that the National Fire Insurance Co. had reinsured stock and buildings belonging to the Co-op for one year in the amount of $1,400.00. The manager, Arch Williamson, was worried because "some accounts were getting rather large and no effort seemingly being made to reduce the amount owing the company." He thought something should be done about collecting these debts, and he and P.H. McPhedran were appointed to "interview one or two" and see what action might be taken. The next year, at a Board of Directors' meeting on January 4th, Barret A. Forbes, auditor, gave a statement, and marked off $455.00 as a reserve for bad debts.

The annual meeting for 1929 was held in the Orange Hall on January 15th, when it was moved and seconded that $10.00 be donated to Sick Children's Hospital in Toronto. This is what the manager received as recompense for his work:-15c per cwt, on cattle; 10c per cwt, on hogs, lambs and calves; $1.00 per ton on fertilizer handled; 3% commission on all other goods; and 25c per bushel on seeds handled by the company. 
That the Co-op tried to do the right thing is witnessed by their decision to give John Hall $25.00 to help on loss suffered by him when hen a cow was killed on the railway track February 9th, even though the company acknowledged no responsibility for the accident.
By 1930 Canada was in the throes of the Great Depression, which was reflected in the Co-op's affairs. At the annual meeting on January 17th it was decided that 20% of the profits as shown by the financial statement at the close of 1929 be placed in a Reserve Fund and at a Board of Directors' meeting on December 27th the manager reported that a thousand dollars of his commission for the past year hadn't been with drawn, as it was needed to carry on the business, whereupon he was awarded interest of 5% on this money, as if it had been a loan.

At the annual meeting in 1931 it was moved and seconded that the president be given $10.00 for his year's services. In 1933 the balance, assets over liabilities, was $1,259.40. 

Arch Williamson was manager from the organization of the Co-op in 1924 until 1942. For the next three years John A. McPhedran assumed this post, with Fred S. Campbell as president. About 1946, the financial structure of the Co-op was changed from share capital to member loan equity. The general economy of the country was looking up somewhat by this time and the members were able to invest more money. Facilities were improved, and a seed cleaning plant was installed. 

The Co-op got into the feed business in 1947 when it purchased the Townline Mill from Francis Earl Shaw. Due to John McPhedran's ill health, a new manager, Alfred C. Hall, was hired; with Earl Helps to take charge of the new mill. An interesting note is the fact that in 1949 the manager's salary was $2,000.00 a year plus fuel for one stove. 

J.C. Clark became manager in 1951, and in the same year the Co-op became a member of the Co-operative Union of Ontario, and of the United Co-operatives of Ontario. Lloyd Ackert was hired as manager in 1953, Ken McCormick having filled the post for part of the year. The Co-op's first warehouse was built at Wanstead in 1948, the year the office's first adding machine was purchased. In 1956 the first cash register was acquired. At that time there were 376 members, and the volume of business was $192,656.00. There are now about 480 members and business of over three million dollars annually, chiefly in grain, feed and fertilizer. 

Twenty years ago, on March 19, 1954, tragedy struck. Fire roared through the Co-op at Wanstead, and when it was over nothing but blackened ruins remained. A month later, a board meeting was held to decide what to do. The future looked as bleak as the charred remains of their holdings. Should they wind up the affairs of the company and call it quits, or vote to begin all over again? It must have been a dramatic moment when the president asked those who thought the charter should be surrendered, and the Co-op go out of business; to raise their hands-and not a solitary one went up. Nothing daunted, they resolved to build again at Wanstead. 

Fortunately, the Townline Mill was still going strong, so the Board thought it best for the time being to improve its facilities, and construct an elevator at Wanstead to handle the marketing of grains, as cash cropping had greatly increased in the area. This was finished by the fall of 1954. 

Early the next year, Lloyd Eckert moved to the head office of U.C.O., and M. Bevin was hired as manager. He left in May, and Cecil Hall was engaged. 

The mill at the Townline was getting old, and the volume of feed had increased to the point where it was hard pressed to handle it. More facilities were urgently needed. Extra money would be required for expansion so a member loan canvass was held, and in 1958 a new mill was started in Wanstead, using the warehouse as the main structure, and completed in September of that year. This was something new in the way way of feed mills, with push button and control panels to speed and regulate flow of ingredients. About this time an egg grading station was established, with accompanying feed and egg routes. A gala Open House was held, and more than 600 local farmers and their wives came to inspect the new installations. 

Rapid changes took place in agriculture in the next few years, which called for increased expansion, and all concerned with the Co-op must have found challenges and excitement trying to keep up. 

Catastrophe hit again in May, 1961, when the Townline Mill was utterly destroyed by fire. This meant the one at Wanstead had to handle more volume than ever. Fortunately, early in 1962 the Co-op was able to purchase the McCormick Elevator in Wyoming (From Fred McCormick), which enlarged the trading area considerably. The next year, bulk fertilizer facilities were built at Wyoming and a liquid nitrogen depot installed. 

A new modern grain dryer was put in at the Wanstead elevator in 1965. In the previous ten years, from 1954 to 1964, sales had increased from $200,000.00 to one and a half million dollars. 

About eight years ago the Wanstead C.N.R. station was acquired by the Co-op and, with the addition of two washrooms and a small warehouse, serves as a bright and comfortable office. A house across the road, which was used as a manager's residence, and later as a storehouse for office supplies, was sold about 1961.

A major addition was constructed at Wanstead in 1971, when two grain storage tanks were built by Chapman Farm Equipment Co., with assistance from Co-op employees. Together with a loading bin and other equipment necessary to feed the new installations, cost was about $50,000.00. In 1972 a flat storage building was constructed in Wyoming at a cost of $60,000.00. This building measuring 84' X 128' has a capacity of over 100,000 bushels of grain. During the period when no grain is stored it is used as fertilizer and seed storage. 

The Co-op has thirteen employees in total, with E. Packett in charge of the Wyoming Branch. Jack Gale came in 1955, and upon the sudden death of Cecil Hall last year, became manager. 

Twenty years ago a few retail sales were made by the Co-op-livestock medicines, saws, a few radios, things like that. Now paint, stoves, deep freezes and so forth are sold, but this remains a small sideline. 

In 1948 the Co-op called in all shares, and since that time members' loans for twenty years draw 5% interest, short term loans have a higher rate, and there are debentures. Assets are now $560,000.00 and 1973 saw a profit of over $66,000.00. Wanstead Farmers Co-op Co. Ltd., is still a locally owned and controlled farm supply Co-op-that is, members actually own the business.

The 1974 Board of Directors were: Burton Ramsay, (president), Victor Smith (secretary), Murray Campbell, Wel Stonehouse, Les Tretheway, V. Packett, Keith Edwards, Claire Bryson, Harold McKay, and Glen Minielly. 
This Board sets the policy, and the manager sees that it is implemented. The president co-ordinates these efforts, and also has various special meetings to attend in connection with Co-op affairs. He gets $50.00 a year, as does the secretary, for their duties and, together with all directors, these gentlemen also receive $5.00 for each board meeting. 
Victor Smith, it is interesting to note, has served almost continually for 50 years as president, director, auditor or secretary, being one of the original members. Others still living are: John Armstrong, Jos. Stonehouse, and John Osborne. 
To perpetuate the memory of Cecil Hall, Co-op manager from 1955-1972, members have established a memorial fund, "to encourage the scholastic progress of a qualified person who has demonstrated ability in leadership, who has made a contribution to extra-curricular activities in the school and who is interested in post-secondary education in agriculture." One student from Lambton Central Collegiate Vocational Institute will be given this award each year. So far, Sjackie Joosten has been a beneficiary

The Wanstead Farmers Co-op Co., Ltd., was started in good faith and with high hopes by a handful of men who wanted to help themselves and their neighbors by pooling their efforts and buying power, for the good of all concerned. Now fifty years later, the community is reaping the fruits of their labors. By adhering to the same ideals of fair dealing and honest service, the business has grown beyond the same hopes of anyone involved in it. Under the capable leadership it now enjoys, continued success is the forecast. The Co-op has survived fires, depression and war, and come through in fine style. May it always be so!


1974-1984 "The Next Ten Years" written by Victor Smith

We are now beginning the second half of the first century of the Wanstead Farmer's Co-operative.

Early in 1973 plans got underway to celebrate the first 50 years of the Co-op. On March 15, 1974 the 50th Anniversary Banquet in the Plympton and Wyoming Agricultural Hall was enjoyed by four hundred and fifty members and friends who were welcomed by President Burton Ramsay. Guest speaker the Honourable Eugene Whelan brought a challenging message which was well received. 

The year 1974 proved to be a record in sales and savings with total sales of $4.1 million and savings of $115,000. $60,000 was spent improving the grain dryers and other facilities. Approximately $52,000 was allocated to members' patronage. 

During the year a large warehouse and workshop was erected at Wanstead. A new tractor and loader was also purchased. 

No records were broken in 1975 but it was still a very successful year. Grain volume increased but declining grain prices and increased expenses resulted in a much lower gross profit. $37,000 was allocated to patronage dividends. In May of 1975 the Board revised the Co-operative Policy to allow members seventy years of age and over to withdraw any monies owing to that member in his patronage account. Any further patronage allocated to the member was to be paid in cash.

To improve service at the Wyoming elevator the ramp has been rebuilt and the flow of traffic reversed. To speed up seed grain cleaning at Wanstead a new seed cleaning plant was erected with bulk facilities. 

By 1976 cash cropping was becoming much more prevalent in this area. The elevators were less able to cope with the situation at harvest time causing long line-ups of farm wagons and trucks. 

Early in the year the Board decided that if the Co-op was to serve this area adequately, the unloading facilities and storage must be expanded. Due to the wisdom of an enthusiastic Board and Manager a major construction project was launched. This was to include fast intake, new platform scales, four 36 x 100 foot concrete silos, two 24 x 100 foot wet silos and a high capacity grain dryer at a total estimated cost of $500,000.00 Some preliminary work would be required such as leasing more land from the C.N.R., preparation of the building site, soil testing and obtaining a building permit. A special Member Loan was issued paying interest at 11% per annum to help finance the project. 

In May 1976 the construction began and progressed through out the year. Enthusiasm and excitement were high at Wanstead Co-op on the morning of July 15, 1977 when the first grain was weighed on the new electronic platform scales and dumped into the new double dump sink allowing two customers to unload at once. The official opening of the new elevator was held on September 2, 1977. 

Lorne Henderson, MPP, Maurice Maw, President and Jack Gale, Manager cut the ribbon to officially open the new grain elevator at Wanstead. Two hundred and fifty members and patrons were present for the occasion. U.C.O. was represented by Bob Coulthard, Neil McGeachy and George Teasdale who all brought congratulatory remarks.
To demonstrate the receiving capacity of the new elevator two huge truckloads of wheat were dumped simultaneously into the receiving pit. In minutes, it disappeared through the mechanism into storage. Officials and visitors toured the facilities and visited while enjoying coffee and doughnuts. The memorable day concluded with a dance in the Wyoming Legion Hall.
With the high capacity grain dryer the volume of grain increased rapidly necessitating the erection of three more large silos. The major construction was completed in 1978 at the cost of one million dollars. $500,000 was secured by the Special Member Loan. It must be conceded that the members responded willingly with their moral and financial support of the project.
1978 was also a record sales year with total volume well over six million dollars.
In 1979 there were no major expansions. The chief expenditure was in maintenance and equipment. During the peak of the corn harvest a power failure in the new elevator temporarily shut down the entire operation. Early in 1980 this problem was corrected with the erection of a Transformer Sub-Station with an alarm signal. Total cost was $52,000.
In 1981 a new livestock barn was built on a parcel of land directly across from the elevator. This land had been previously purchased from Pat Heisler. This new building had a total cost of $47,000 and was opened December 1, 1981. It will be used to assemble hogs and cattle prior to shipment to market. This has proven to be very satisfactory. 1981 proved to be an all time high in sales. Total sales were $10,191,273. The old stock yards and the first building which housed the stock scale and the first office were dismantled in 1982. Previous to this, sketches were drawn of the office.
Due to the large inventory of grain by November 30th, the fiscal year end was changed to August 31st. This change was made at the annual meeting held on February 23, 1982. This nine month period was very successful with total sales of seven million dollars.
At the annual meeting on November 24, 1982 part of Section I of Article VI of the general by-laws was amended substituting therefore that each member will be required to pay a Life Membership Fee of Ten dollars ($10.00) and a loan of at least Five Hundred dollars ($500.00) to the Co-operative.
The office is bright and comfortable and has been updated with modern accounting equipment. The surrounding area around the well-kept buildings has been improved adding much to the general appearance.
The Co-operative contributes to the local economy by spending about $650,000 in our community annually. Some of the major items are wages and benefits ($280,000), energy costs ($60,000), municipal taxes ($35,000), maintenance ($27,000) and insurance ($20,000).
The Co-operative took the initiative in getting crossing gates and warning signals on the C.N.R. crossing at the Wanstead sideroad.
The Co-op was also instrumental in having the Wanstead drain repaired. This was a great benefit to the Co-op property as well as the surrounding area. Total cost to the Co-operative was $27,000.
Cooper's Appraisal Company is engaged from time to time to appraise buildings and equipment for insurance purposes.
The memorial fund established in 1973 to perpetuate the memory of Cecil Hall is an on-going event. Each year a student from L.C.C.V.I. receives this award.
1983 was a banner year. While total sales were just below the 1981 record, net savings reached an all-time high of $172,500.
Under the present management the last ten years have been exceedingly prosperous total sales and assets have tripled and $355,000 has been allocated for patronage dividends. General Reserve has increased from $96,000 to $585,000.
In response to generally increasing competitive activity in the retail market the Co-op added John Turvey to the staff as Retail Manager in June 1983.
For sixty years the Wanstead Farmers Co-operative has been offering farmers an alternative way of obtaining the farm supplies and services they require to improve their quality of life and realize the full potential of their farming operation.
The Co-operative way of doing business has meant that each of the five hundred members of Wanstead Farmers Co-op have a direct input into the operation of their Co-op through elected representatives.

The current membership is not a day older than the small group of men who attended that first meeting some three generations ago. There have been a great many changes at the Co-op over the past sixty years. We have come from the horse and buggy days to the jet age. On the other hand a lot of things have remained the same. 


Lives of great men all remind us 

We can make our lives sublime 

And departing leave behind us 

Footprints on the sands of time. 

Let us then be up and doing 

With a heart for any fate 

Still achieving, still pursuing 

Learn to labour and to wait.

-H. W. Longfellow 

VICTOR SMITH "MR. CO-OPERATOR" Sixty years and still active and Involved. Victor was one of the original members of this Co-op. He has been an auditor at $2.50 per year, director, president, and for the last thirty years secretary for the Board of Directors. Victor's knowledge, wisdom and Input when asked, are valued greatly by the Board today.


1984-1994 "On to the 90's" written by John Racher

In 1984 a new fertilizer blender and conveyor was erected at Wanstead along with a storage building 50' x 72'. A new bulk feed truck was purchased from Waycon International. The old truck was equipped with a 10 ton spreader and flotation tires to become the custom spreader truck. This resulted in a 60% Increase in fertilizer sales for that year. 

A computer was purchased in 1985 bringing the office into the modern age. This gave management an instant analysis of day to day operations, as well as year to date information. STEAD In 1986 a new seed cleaner with a capacity of 200 bushels per hour was purchased to replace our aged cleaner. 

By 1987 the spreader truck was becoming unreliable and costly to repair. A new 250 hp three wheeled Terra-Gator with 50' true spread fertilizer auger was purchased at a cost of $140,400. 

The grain dryer was replaced by a Law dryer, manufactured in France, and shipped to Wanstead. The dryer was designed to be more efficient in energy consumption along with minimal damage to grain samples. Purchase price was $250,000.00. 

1987 also saw the retirement of Jack Gale after 14 years as manager. John Turvey, assistant manager, took over the reins. Of special note was the fact that the co-op had never seen a loss all the years Jack was manager. The Board wished him equal success in his retirement.
The following year, 1988, Victor Smith resigned as secretary of the Board. Victor was 89 years of age and had held the secretary's job for 33 years. As well as being an original charter member. he served the Board faithfully, holding numerous positions for a grand total of 64 years.
In 1990, a new International truck, a used freightliner tractor, as well as two new 14000 bu. Lode King trailers were purchased to transport our grain. Six months later a 3rd tractor and trailer were obtained for alternate use in hauling grain as well as being a fertilizer delivery unit for the Terra-Gator.
The Wanstead Farmer's Co-op essentially doubled its size in February of 1993 with the purchase of the UCO branches of Alvinston and Inwood for the sum of $475,000. Conditions of the sale being: the board must have Wanstead's membership approval; and, $155,000 or 1/3 of the purchase price was to be raised by farmers in the new area through a $10 membership, $500 member loan, and possibly, further Co-op investments.
With spring approaching and the deal not completed, Wanstead took over managing the branches for a share of the profit until the transaction was completed September 1, 1993.

The computer service was enlarged in 1994 to bring all branches in line with the office computer in Wanstead. This supplied account information to all branches as well as cheque writing capabilities: one of many 1st class services the Co-op customers have grown to expect with the "Wanstead Farmer's" name. 


1994-2024 "Completing The First 100 Years!" written by John Turvey

1995 – 1999

With the completion of the purchase of the former United Co-Operatives of Ontario (UCO) branches at Alvinston and Inwood in the 1994 fiscal year, Wanstead Farmers Co-operative could now offer goods and services from four locations basically doubling their trading area to include all of central Lambton and western Middlesex Counties.
In 1995 UCO sold all of their remaining assets in Ontario to Growmark Inc – a large US Co-operative based in Bloomington Illinois. Up until this time UCO had been the major crop input provider to Wanstead. As a result of this transaction, Wanstead’s Board of Directors voted to purchase a membership in Growmark. As such Growmark now becomes Wanstead principal provider of crop products including fertilizer, seed and crop protection products. 
During 1995 new government regulations came into effect that required changes to the way pesticides were handled and stored. As a result, a new up-to-date pesticide storage building was erected at Wanstead and upgrades were made to an existing storage at Alvinston. At the same time bulk chemical storage was added to the new building at Wanstead.
Roundup-Ready soybeans and BT corn and many other new technologies became available during this period and the term “Precision Farming” began to be used.
When Wanstead purchased the Inwood and Alvinston branches in 1994, those locations were operating under a “marketing agreement” with ADM. Wanstead continued this agreement until 1996 when it was ended and from that point forward all grain delivered to or shipped through all Wanstead locations was sold directly to and marketed by Wanstead.
Up until 1997, the Wyoming property that the Wyoming branch operated on was two separate properties. One (the east half) was owned by Wanstead while the west half was owned by CN and leased to Wanstead. In 1997 CN agreed to sell their portion of the property to Wanstead.
With growing demand for grain handling services in 1998 Wanstead needed to add additional grain storage at both the Inwood and Alvinston locations. In order to allow the members to support this venture, Wanstead began offering a very successful debenture investment program. Additional storage was added to both locations as a result. In 1999 a new grain receiving site was added at the Wanstead location on the north side of Elevator Street to allow the Co-op to handle IP soybeans as well as soft red wheat.
1999 marked 75 years of operation for Wanstead Farmers Co-operative. The occasion was celebrated with a banquet, entertainment and dance at the Wyoming Fair Building and well-attended by a large crowd of members, staff and dignitaries.

2000 – 2004
Many changes in agriculture continued to happen during the next 5-year period. For the first time producers had options for marketing their wheat crop. Wheat could still be delivered to elevators for the account of the Ontario Wheat Producers Marketing Board through the pool system but they also now had the opportunity to market their wheat “off-board” similar to the marketing of both corn and soybeans.
For the first time a survey of members of Wanstead Farmers’ Co-operative was conducted. The results were very helpful to the Board of Directors in making decisions about the future direction of the Co-operative and several changes took place as a result.
In 2002 Wanstead Farmers’ Co-op formed a working alliance with Stoney Point and Orford Co-ops which was called “Southern Co-operative Services” or SCS. This alliance was strictly a sharing of services, not a merging of assets. Primarily it gave Wanstead Co-op access to five very experienced employees by sharing the costs with the other two Co-operatives. The main benefits to Wanstead will be in the purchasing of inputs and the management of the sales staff.
During this time the “1-2-3 Member Rebate Program” was introduced. This is a volume discount program that allows members to receive rebates based on the volume of their purchases of seed, fertilizer and pesticides from Wanstead. 
Some other firsts: the first Wanstead Farmers Co-op website was created –; the formation of a Health and Safety Committee with representatives from the staff and the Board of Directors; and the Co-op developed and established an official credit policy.

2005 – 2009
Beginning in 2005 and over the next few years several grain storage addition projects were undertaken. A new receiving area for grain was constructed on the north side of Elevator St at Wanstead. In total, 200,000 bushels of storage was added over this time. This additional site allowed for easier handling and segregation of multiple crops such as soft red and soft white wheat as well as Identity Preserved (I.P.) Soybeans. 
With the construction of the new receiving site at Wanstead, the “old elevator” at the east end of the property was no longer needed. Both the elevator and the nearby feed mill which was also no longer being used were demolished in 2007.
In 2006 an eleven-acre piece of property in Alvinston was purchased at auction by the Co-op at a cost of $300,000. The site has direct access to Nauvoo Road (Hwy 79) and is located north of the existing Alvinston site but separated from it by Morrell Street. By late 2007 the existing building on the property, formerly a plastic tile manufacturing plant, had been totally renovated and converted to an up-to-date office, workshop, pesticide and seed storage. The official opening of this site took place on November 1, 2007.
During these years the Canadian Dollar experienced some dramatic swings – trading as low as 65 cents to over par within a one-year period. This made for very dramatic swings in basis levels in most commodities. 
Sales for the Co-op continued to grow exceeding 35 million dollars for the first time in 2009. 

2010 – 2014
Fiscal 2010 began with a huge challenge when the Law Dryer at Wanstead (purchased in 1987) caught fire and was destroyed right at the peak of the 2009 corn harvest. Luckily the main receiving pit and legs were still in working order so after a brief delay of a few days the elevator was able to re-open to accept wet corn again. Thankfully several neighbouring elevators stepped forward and offered to accept wet corn from Wanstead to allow us to complete the corn harvest. The loss of the dryer, which was covered by replacement cost insurance, allowed the Board and staff to evaluate the Co-op’s grain business as a whole and look toward future needs. As a result the Board voted to not only replace the old dryer at Wanstead with a new higher-capacity one but also add additional storage in the form of a 300,000 bushel steel bin beside the new Dorssers dryer. In total 1.7 million dollars was invested in new grain equipment as well as a new bulk seed treating storage facility at Alvinston in 2010.
Over the next 3 - 4 years additional projects were undertaken including a new receiving pit, leg and 100,000 bushel steel bin erected at Alvinston in 2011 and a second 300,000 bushel bin built at Wanstead in 2012.
In 2013 several projects and additions took place including a new fertilizer storage building at the Wanstead site with a capacity of 1600 tonnes and a new fertilizer blender at the Alvinston location. Fiscal 2013 produced another new sales record for the Co-operative exceeding 57 million dollars. 
April 2014 marked 90 years of operation for Wanstead Farmers Co-operative.

2015 – 2019
In 2015 the decision was made by the Board to replace the Wanstead main office (former railway station) that had served as the Co-op’s head office since the 1965. The old office had earlier been damaged by some high winds and heavy rains. Construction of the new office began in 2015 and was completed by March of 2016. A large crowd attended the grand opening for tours of the new facility and the ribbon cutting ceremony in August of that year. The former office/railway station was demolished in March of 2017.
In 2015 the property in Wyoming, which had been owned and operated by Wanstead Co-op since the early 1960’s was listed through real estate and sold for $150,000.
Early in fiscal 2016 with the retirement of General Manager John Turvey, the Board hired Peter Kelly to become the 11th General Manager of Wanstead Farmers Co-operative.
In September of 2016 the Co-op was hit by ransomware, fortunately the updates made to the system allowed the Co-op to recover from this attack in 3 days with no loss of data nor data being seized.
Recognizing the importance of grain marketing to the Co-op and its members Floyd Howard was hired in 2017 becoming the first full-time Grain Merchandising Manager ever employed by Wanstead Co-op.
In 2017 internet radio towers were installed at the Alvinston and Wanstead branches. These utilized fibre optic connections provided by Brooke Telecom and allowed for high speed internet at both branches. This opened up options for new software systems.
In 2018 after many hours of work by many staff members the new Agvance computer software was installed residing in the cloud. This software replaced the Thede-Ward system that had been in use by the Co-operative since the mid-1980’s. The new Agvance system boasted integrated planning, mapping, e-mail invoices, statements, sales contracts, and settlement contracts. Also included was a customer portal which allowed members to view their invoices, statements, grain position and settlements online thus providing much improved member interaction.
The By-laws of Wanstead Farmers were also brought up-to-date in 2018 and approved by the membership at the Annual meeting. 
Other improvements during this time included the addition of a second fertilizer blender at Wanstead and a designated 27,000 bushel wet grain bin at the south side of the Alvinston branch.
In 2019 a new more user-friendly website for the Co-operative was launched. This website was designed to allow for viewing on all platforms, smart phone, tablet and computer.
In October 2019 a lot was purchased in Inwood at a cost of $16,000. This property was the former site of the Inwood Grain & Seed business and was adjacent to Wanstead Co-op’s Inwood Branch immediately west of the Co-op’s existing grain receiving elevator. All building structures had been previously demolished from the site prior to the purchase. For a brief time the municipality of Brooke-Alvinston leased a small portion of the property from the Co-op at a cost of one dollar per year to allow for a gazebo to be placed there. The gazebo has since has been moved to the library property across the street.
Other improvements at Inwood included updating the pit and pit drag to speed up receiving as well as adding a storm drain to minimize ponding of water.
Also of note in 2019 was that approximately 80% of the winter wheat crop did not survive the excessive rain and variable weather that had been experienced over the winter. Many producers had forward contracted a large portion of their crop for harvest delivery to Wanstead and were given the option to roll their contracts forward to 2020 or cancel them outright.

2020 – 2024
Not unlike most businesses COVID had a great impact on the Co-op during this time. Virtual regular board meetings and the Annual General Meeting (AGM) became the norm along with restricted access to Co-op offices and general social distancing. The AGM’s for both 2020 and 2021 were attended virtually only while the 2022 meeting returned to something nearer to normal offering the options of virtual or in-person attendance. At the 2020 AGM the by-laws were further revised and approved to allow virtual Board meetings and AGM’s to properly occur.
With the ever increasing volume of data and complexity of accounting, for the first time the Co-operative hired a Controller in December 2019. 
In 2021 a new grain receiving and storage facility was constructed at the north Alvinston branch with a total storage capacity of 390,000 bushels plus a new dryer (1600 bushels per hour) along with a 10,000 bushels-per-hour pit and receiving leg.
This was also the first year for the myFS platform which allowed members to view their transactions with the Co-operative on smartphones, tablets and computers. Members can now receive notifications when a custom application job has been completed. Electronic scale tickets were introduced at both the Alvinston and the Wanstead branches. Grain OTC products were also introduced this year, providing new pricing tools to our customers to diversify their grain marketing portfolio. Some of these pricing tools include flex floor options, merchants plus pricing, and double up accumulators.
As of June 1, 2021 the Ontario Wheat Producers Marketing Board (OWPMB) ceased to offer the Pool and marketing programs.
Fiscal 2021 saw another new sales record set for the Co-operative at over 65 million dollars.
Southern Co-operative Services (SCS), originally formed in 2002, was a working alliance sharing some staff and associated expenses between Wanstead and AGRIS Co-operatives. In 2021 the decision was made to dissolve this agreement. The two Co-operatives agreed to continue to work together as neighbouring co-ops and as part of the GROWMARK FS network.
In 2022 another new sales record was set for the Co-op with total sales reaching over 84 million dollars. Helping set that new record was an all-time high corn handle notably with no vomitoxin issues which in prior years had become a regular challenge for the Co-operative and the members. In an attempt to reduce quality issues with wheat the Co-op accepted wheat with higher moisture levels with no drying charges to encourage early harvest but unfortunately still had challenges with quality throughout the year. 

With continued growth in the grain marketing side of the business, the Co-op added a second grain merchandiser, Megan McGrail, in 2022. 

In February of 2022 Russia launched a full-scale invasion of the Ukraine. This led to many unexpected effects here and all around the world including agriculture in general. Grain markets hit new highs in a very short time, fertilizer prices in some cases tripled over those of recent years and crop protection products prices soared higher due to tight product supply.
2023 brought more challenges as well as improvements and successes. In the end, for the third consecutive year another new sales record was established for Wanstead Farmers Co-operative with sales reaching in excess of 90 million dollars for the first time. During this year the Co-op also achieved a new high in total bushels of grain originated. It seems appropriate that an all-time high in total sales and total grain handle should be established in Wanstead Farmers Co-operative’s 100th year of operation!
On July 20th of 2023 disaster struck at the Alvinston Branch when a severe storm roared through the area causing extensive damage to both the north and the south elevator sites. Repairs were quickly made to the north side elevator to get it up and running in short order. Damage was considerably greater on the south side elevator so after much discussion the decision was made to demolish all of the concrete silos and the two 50,000 bushel steel bins there leaving the dryer, pit, 25,000 bushel wet bin and 100,000 bushel storage bin. Plans are currently underway to replace the demolished bins with a 50,000 bushel wet bin, 100,000 bushel storage bin and a 5,000 bushel overhead bin. 
In 2023 the Co-op continued to invest in new equipment with the purchase of 2 new sprayers, 3 bulk fertilizer spreaders and 3 190 mt UAN storage tanks at Alvinston. In addition to building a new 150,000 bushel grain storage at the Alvinston Branch north elevator location, the site was also finally connected to natural gas eliminating the need for propane. The Co-op also installed a new state-of-the-art seed cleaning system at the Alvinston location as well as a new computerized IP phone system for the entire Co-operative. At the same time, wireless internet was put in at both the Wanstead and Alvinston branches in the yards to allow for computer connectivity,  phones in all warehouse buildings. This also allowed for remote monitoring of the dryer at the Alvinston branch on the north side. In addition security cameras were added in March 2023 at the Wanstead branch since the site is too large to fence in at a reasonable cost.
In the fall of 2024 a new grain strategic alliance with Great Lakes Grain (GLG) was formed at the Bacres Site north of Alvinston whereby the storage at this site is shared by GLG and Wanstead. 
A new App will soon be released for members to be able submit Grain Pricing orders.
Wanstead Farmers Co-operative has hosted many annual farmer’s events over the years including the Curling Bonspiel (started in 2020), Golf Tournament (started in 2000), and a multitude of Grower Meetings.

For 100 years Wanstead Farmers Co-operative has been growing, evolving and rising up to meet the challenges presented to it.
Many changes have occurred over the last century but what has not changed is the fact that the Co-op is still owned and controlled by the local farm families/Members – just as it was on April 7, 1924! 

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