Voices

Voices

Our volunteer interview teams in Thunder Bay and Winnipeg did their best to collect voices reflecting all major facets of Canada's international grain trade. As a result, you will find interviews with farmers, researchers, plant breeders, company owners, and railway employees blended in with the stories of grain handlers, inspectors, lake shippers, regulators, builders, marketers, and many more. Our voices are spread from Quebec City to Victoria, with the highest concentrations being from Thunder Bay and Winnipeg.  Getting all these interviews onto the website will be a gradual process. Check back often and please contact us if you have questions about the project.

Voice of the month

Bob Speak - an elevator worker

Bob had the misfortune of being involved in the 1952 explosion of the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool elevator in Current River. His descriptions put the listener right into the horror of the situation and his fortunate escape.

Listen to a snippet of the interview with Bob Speak -

Interviews

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Janice Andrews

Grain Inspector - Canadian Grain Commission

A recommendation from a family friend in 1978 opened the doors for Janice to the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) and a thirty year career in the grain industry in Thunder Bay. She was one of the early pioneers as this male-dominated workforce began to change in the late 1970’s.

Janice outlines her duties as a grain inspector and eventually training coordinator. She discusses changes in the workplace and nature of her work, the rewards of being a trainer, and the unhappy consequences of the downturn in grain shipments at the Lakehead.

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Peter Barr

Purchasing Agent - Saskatchewan Wheat Pool

After a four-hour interview for the position of purchasing agent with Saskatchewan Wheat Pool (SWP) Peter Barr obtained the opportunity he was looking for to return to his hometown of Thunder Bay. He was certain that he was hired because he had no connection with the company and would be able to root out some of the less-than-desirable practices that were taking hold, including suspected bribes.

You will hear him comment on the importance of SWP to Thunder Bay’s economy, the Robins Donuts’ connection, the roots of office frugality, and a return to ethical purchasing practices.

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Victor Bel

Inspector - Canadian Food Inspection Agency

At first vowing never to work in an elevator as his immigrant father and uncle had, Victor Bel became what he calls the “bug man” –a career that regularly had him crawling around ships hulls and elevators to guarantee bug-free grain shipments.

Vic takes us on a tour from elevator to elevator on the waterfront, along the way talking of his adventures and sometimes very dangerous work.

Beverley Bennett CPCA

Beverley Bennet

Canada Ports Clearance Association--Winnipeg

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Bill Boyce

Elevator Worker: Richardson

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Cam Brown

Agrologist, Marketer - Manitoba Pool Elevators, Canadian Wheat Board, Feed-Rite

“They died of no food… got dried and frozen out so many times…” That’s how Cam Brown begins his interview as he describes early farming on the Prairies and his family’s part in it. In his wide-ranging interview, Cam details his remarkable, 50-year career in the grain industry, including time as a provincial agriculture representative, Manitoba Pool Elevator field representative, Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) world-wide, grain marketer, and Feed-Rite manager. Hear about rat-free Alberta, early wheat breeding that saved Western Canadian farmers, the superior negotiating skills of Chinese grain customers, the importance of tariff-free trade, and so much more.

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Greg Brown

Labourer, Grain Sampler - Keifer, CGC, SWP

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Walter Bushuk

Cereal Chemist: University of Manitoba

Dr. Bushuk, a world-renowned scientist, was a major reason Canada established a reputation as a world leader in grain research.

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Tom Chauvin

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Victor Cook

Consulting Engineer - Barnett-McQueen, V.B. Cook Engineering

Long-time professional engineer V.B. Cook (1948-1988) takes us back to the early days of terminal elevator construction in Thunder Bay when Barnett-McQueen set up shop in Fort William, just in time to take part in the terminal-elevator building boom of the early 1900s.

We hear of V.B.’s experience with upgrading the Bunge terminal in Quebec City; the toppling of UGG elevator into Thunder Bay; his Argentina experience; shortcomings of handling efficiency in Thunder Bay; development of Seabar dumper; and his comments on the downturn of the industry at the Lakehead. Please contact friendsofgrainelevators@gmail.com for this interview.

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R.L.M. (Dick) Dawson

Grain exporter, Negotiator, Vice-President - Cargill
Few grain industry men share the breadth of experience of Dick Dawson who, upon leaving England to join Cargill in the US worked for that company in Winnipeg, Switzerland, Vancouver and Argentina, all in a period just short of 15 years. In 1974, he came full circle to Winnipeg, and ended his career as Vice-President of Cargill’s Canadian operation in 1993.
In his first interview, Dick speaks of world-wide market conditions and changes he experienced in his early years including the collapse of the Russian grain production and China coming on stream as wheat buyers. He comments on diverse subject such as the Canadian Wheat Board, international financing, export trading, labour relations in Thunder Bay and Vancouver, quality of Canadian grain, and much, much more.

Dick Dawson starts this interview, remembering his early experience with Thunder Bay operations, moving on to review early Seaway traffic, impact of changing freight rates on Thunder Bay and early negative interaction between Cargill and the Pools.
He expands on his time in Argentina, comparing Canadian and Argentinian grain businesses. His comments wrap up with musings on the implications of farmer-owned grain companies.

Interview three begins with Dick commenting on several contemporaries in the grain business in Winnipeg. He moves on to his work negotiating international trade agreements. When discussing current challenges the industry faces, he weighs in on genetic modification, organic products, obesity vs hunger, and farmers growing quality vs quantity. He wraps up this interview and his feeling about his career with a comment that reflects the tone of his interviews—“Feeding the world is a fun thing to do with your day!”

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Bert Domes

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Harold Duke

Rescuer, Riveter - Saskatchewan Pool 5

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Vern Duke

Chief Grain Inspector: Canadian Grain Commission, Winnipeg

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Peter Eaves

Machinist - Woodside Brothers, Port Arthur Ship Yards

A six-week stint in Port Arthur led a highly trained machinists from England to make his way to Woodside Brothers. Paul had completed a five-year apprenticeship and spent the next 14 years practising his trade.  In the interview he recounts the various jobs that he performed for the elevator companies.  Snippets of his workday gave you an insight into his profession and also the emergency tasks that had to be completed to keep the elevators working.

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Peter Edwards

Sampler, Weighman, Grain Inspector - Canadian Grain Commission, Appeal Tribunal

Since his early teens, when he participated in a junior grain club that was held in the family store, Peter Edwards had an interest in grain.  Peter’s 43-year career began with the Canadian Grain Commission as a Grain Sampler in Edmonton. He spent time in both the Edmonton and Calgary offices as a Grain Inspector before settling in Winnipeg as the Inspector in charge of the Winnipeg District.  Peter was then appointed Chairman of the Grain Appeal Tribunal where he served for many years.

After his retirement from the Grain Commission in 1992, Peter was contracted by Saskatchewan Wheat Pool where he continued his work in grain inspection. He remained with Sask Pool for several harvest seasons in Winnipeg and Regina until he finally retired at the age of 77.

In this interview, Peter provides insight into the roles and responsibilities of Grain Sampler, Grain Inspector, and the Grain Appeal Tribunal.

 

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Gail Fikis

Grain Sampler, Grain Inspector - CGC

To pay off her student loan, Gail Fikis took a good-paying job with the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC), never having set foot in an elevator. Her career first as a sampler then as an inspector, was short, 1978-1981.  But it was at a time when women on the job were a novelty—not one that everyone was happy with.  Gail engages listeners with clear, colourful descriptions of work and events, sprinkled with reflections on the difficulty of being a female employee, trying to fit into a very male-centered work environment.

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Douglas Ford

Farmer, CEO - Winnipeg Commodities Exchange

Former President and CEO of the Winnipeg Commodities Exchange, Doug began his career in agriculture after graduating with a degree in agriculture. He combined practical experience in farming with academic positions, research, and commodities trading, which gave him a broad knowledge of the Canadian agriculture industry.

In this interview he touches on most, if not all,  facets of the industry from farm gate to world markets.

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Trudy Frowen

Story Teller, Family Member

 

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Maurice Grinstead

In 1971, Mr. Grinstead was not enjoying his university studies. While having dinner at a friend's house, he mentioned this and was offered an apprenticeship as a sheet metal worker. As a vivid storyteller, Maurice lets the listener visualize the work from maintenance to modernization of the Thunder Bay grain elevators during his 37-year career. Warning: This interview includes graphic details of serious accidents.

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Sydney Halter

Consulting Engineer - C.D. Howe Engineering

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Tom Hamilton

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Glen Hanna

Deck Hand, Ship's Fireman - CSL, N.M. Paterson

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Wilf Harder

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Bruce Hayles

Manager, President - Mission Terminal, Winnipeg Commodity Exchange

Consolidated, Mission, Soumat

Bruce outlines his extensive experience in the grain industry. Throughout his career, he has led many organizations, including the Winnipeg Commodity Exchange and Mission Terminal. He outlines his roots in the industry, which go back to his father Charles’ involvement in the early 1900s with Dominion and Consolidated elevator companies. His interview takes us through his time in Thunder Bay as a trainee with Consolidated to his later career, when he becomes, like his father, one of Winnipeg’s most respected grain industry leaders.

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William Hryb

Ship's Agent

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Harvey Jones

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Sidney Kasner

Weights and Measures Specialist, Canadian Grain Commission

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Gordon Keatch

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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William Kelso

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Patricia Kent

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Roy Lamore

Messenger, Yard Worker - Canadian National Railway

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Otto Lang

Member of Parliament - Government of Canada, Canadian Wheat Board

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Jack Lourie

Grain Inspector - CGC

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Angus Macdonald

Additional biographical information to be added later.

Wally Madill 2P1000440

Wally Madill

Manager: Alberta Pool Elevators

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Maurice Mailhot

Owner/Operator: Western Grain By-Products - Fort William Elevator

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Roland Mann

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Vic Martens

Canadian Grain Commission, Canadian International Grain Institute

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Richard Maundrell

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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D Mckay

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Thomas Mckinnon

Grain Trimmer - Thunder Bay Grain Trimmers

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Adrian Measner

Manager: Canadian Wheat Board, Mission Terminal

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Tal Morgan

Grain Inspector, Canadian Grain Commission

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William Parrish, Sr.

Manager, Owner - Parrish and Heimbecker

Additional biographical information to be added later.

Barrie Pauluk P1020431

Barrie Pauluk

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Stanley Polowski

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Jim Poole

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Len Rissanen

Story teller - Saskatchewan Wheat Pool 5 Explosion

Although Len is not an elevator worker, he wanted to record the story of his father's bravery in rescuing workers stranded at the top of Saskatchewan Pool 4 after the disastrous 1945 explosion that killed over 20 workers. This short interview sets the record straight.

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Ray Rogowski

Engineer - Canadian National Railway

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Richard Ross

Story Teller - Saskatchewan Wheat Pool 5 Explosion

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Frank Rowan

Marketer: Canadian Wheat Board, Winnipeg

Additional biographical information to be added later.

Avery Sahl 4P1000459

Avery Saul

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Stephen Sidorski

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Peter Stevenson

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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W. Stewart

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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William Tebbenham

Labourer, Weighman, Trackman, Investigator, Stewart/Federal Grain, Canadian Grain Commission

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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John Thiessen

Manager: Paterson Grain, Manitoba

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Eric Thitheridge

Country Superintendent, Terminal Operations Manager - United Grain Growers

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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William Turner

Manager: Canadian Grain Commission--Thunder Bay, Winnipeg

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Ted Turner

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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Tony Tweed

Additional biographical information to be added later.

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John Winslow

Yard Foreman, Conductor, Engineer - Canadian National Railway

John outlines his lifetime career with the CNR, which involved moving grain through the Thunder Bay yards and into the elevators. Overtime was plentiful, especially when the grain was flowing in 1984. One day 5,000 grain cars were emptied in a 24-hour period. He discusses changes in equipment, staffing, learning the ropes (“It was like a ballet.”) It could be dangerous work; people were killed.

He discusses mishaps including grain cars in the lake and recovery operations. He listened closely to the old timers telling stories of early times on the railway and recounts them here, along with thoughts about labour relations, workers compensation, computerization and cutbacks in maintenance. Contact friendsofgrainelevators@gmail.com for this access to this interview.