Fonds 161 Ridge Valley Co-operative Association fonds

Ridge Valley Co-operative Association fonds. — 1938-1945. — 32 cm of textual records.

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Agency History

The Ridge Valley Co-operative Association was formed on April 8, 1939 for the purpose of establishing a Cheese Factory in the Ridge Valley District of the Peace River Country. The organizers were mainly Mennonite farmers who had come to the area in the 1920s: P.I. Loewen, Gerry DeVeer, A. Bartel, Jasper Bronson, Abe T. Reimer, Aaron F. Reimer, Joe Taylor and Ger. Thiessen. Shares were sold to settlers in the area at a value of $25.00 each, which could be paid for in cash or by work in lieu of cash. There were 45 initial subscribers. The business was administered by an executive board of five people elected by the shareholders.

A frame building was built on land donated by Joseph Taylor on the south edge of SW 14-71-26-W5, beside Deep Creek which was dammed to provide water for steam. There was also an air cooled cold storage room where the cheese was stored and aged. Operating money to start the venture was borrowed from the Linden Cheese Co-op in southern Alberta, and the factory opened in 1939.

Garnet Summers was the first cheese maker. Milk was purchased from local producers who depended on ice houses to cool the milk and keep it sweet, as there was no refrigeration. For many of these farmers, it was the only regular cash income they received. The Cheddar Cheese product was made daily and sold to individuals as well as being shipped to Swift’s in Edmonton and Horne & Pitfield in Grande Prairie.

By 1941, total annual production was 44, 000 lbs of cheese. In 1942, the group considered incorporation. At the time there were 27 milk shippers and they were processing 2,300 to 2,500 lbs of milk per day. In 1945 there were 51 members in the association, but in 1948, the factory closed due to competition from the Northern Alberta Dairy Pool, who could offer a better price for raw milk.

Custodial History

The records were donated to the DeBolt & District Pioneer Museum by Florence Issac in 1998 and Adi and Betty Klassen in 2003, and deposited in Grande Prairie Regional Archives by the DeBolt & District Pioneer Museum in 2004.

Scope and Content

The fonds consists of executive records, financial records, correspondence, labour records, and printed materials from associated organizations.

Table of Contents

Series 161.01 Executive Records
Series 161.02 Financial Records
Series 161.03 Correspondence
Series 161.04 Labour Records
Series 161.05 Associated Organizations
Series 161.01 Executive Records. — 1938-1945. — 2 cm of textual records.The series consists of a letter of relinquishment from Joseph Taylor regarding the land for the cheese factory, a description of the operation along with a 1941 financial statement, a few minutes from an undated year, employee contracts, insurance policies, tax notices and receipts, receipts for purchase of shares, share statements and transfers, and operational reports submitted to various levels of government.
Series 161.02 Financial Records. — 1939-1945. — 14 cm of textual records.The series consists of financial statements from 1941-1944, financial ledgers, records of cheese sales and milk purchased, accounts receivable and general expenses.
Series 161.03 Correspondence. — 1939-1946. — 3 cm of textual records.The series consists of correspondence between the Ridge Valley Co-op and the Government of Alberta as well as their sister co-op in Linden. Subjects include the hiring of a cheese maker, incorporation of the business and Dairy Commissioner directives.
Series 161.04 Labour Records. — 1941-1945. — 1 cm of textual records.The series consists of tenders and bills for cutting and supplying firewood for the factory, unemployment insurance records, letter from the Alberta Dairymen’s Assoc. and Ministry of Trade and Industry regarding wages and hours of work regulations, a letter from the Minister of Labour, Ottawa, regarding the employment of veterans, a bulletin from the Alberta Federation of Agriculture regarding Harvest Labour, and copies of the 1943 Unemployment Insurance Act and the 1943 Workman’s Compensation Act along with forms, payment receipts and correspondence.
Series 161.05 Associated Organizations. — 1938-1945. — 2 cm of textual records.The series consists of printed material originating from The Canada Gazette (an order in council concerning premiums on cheese production), Alberta Department of Agriculture, Calgary Exhibition & Stampede, The Wartime Prices and Trade Board, Department of Extension, University of Alberta, Alberta Federation of Agriculture (minutes of first annual meeting), Consumer Cooperative Association, Accounting Bureau of the Cooperative League.
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