Co-operatives have a long history of serving members in Western Canada. In the early 20th century, people worked together to create retail co-operatives in many towns in the four western Canadian provinces (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia).
We pride ourselves on our customer service and invite you to visit a location closest to you. When you visit, we strive to make you to feel like “You’re at home here.”
By the end of 2008, the company’s total sales were over $57 million and many milestones had been reached. Standing tall through the decades of prosperous and lean times, Pineland Co-op had achieved great success through hard work, vision and a truly loyal membership.
The 80th Anniversary of Pineland Co-op was celebrated with a $10,000 Giveaway and a commemorative history booklet as well as various events throughout the year.
Early in 2003, plans were developed for a 32,000 square-foot Marketplace Food Store. It would rival any large-centre grocery store and would be complemented by a convenience store, gas bar and car wash. The following year, the board approved the project.
The gas bar and convenience store opened in 2004 and the Marketplace Food Store was welcoming customers by early 2005. Total sales at the end of 2005 were $34 million.
Late in 2005, Imperial Oil decided to sell its Saskatchewan fertilizer plants to Agrium. In 2006, Pineland Co-op leased the former Esso dry fertilizer sites in Nipawin and Choiceland and anhydrous ammonia plants in Choiceland and Pontrilas.
Choiceland saw expansion in 2006. A new 9,000 square-foot farm supply centre, gas bar, and cardlock were built near the community. The outlet experienced incredible growth, doubling its sales in the first year.
Nipawin welcomed a new Agro Centre in 2008 on Highway 35 South, near the Food Store and Gas Bar. This Agro Centre allowed the Home Centre to focus more space on outdoor living supplies and auto centre services.
The Nipawin Home and Agro Centre became one of the largest home centres in the Co-op Retailing System when it renovated in 1999. The project cost just over $863,000 and the store was profitable through the next decade.
The board of directors moved to form a bulk petroleum department in 1998, enabling orders to be dispatched from one central location. Two tandem trucks were purchased to serve the region. This proved to be very efficient.
As sales rose, the company was proud to reward its loyal membership. In 1997, a general cash repayment was made to all Pineland Co-operative members. Profitable years continued and the Co-op paid out over five million dollars between 1997 and 2003.
The Co-op seemed to be turning a corner toward prosperity, when disaster struck. The newly renovated shopping centre caught fire in 1992.
Youths playing with matches accidentally stared the fire. Garbage bin contents caught fire below a ventilation grill insulated with wood shavings. Within a few hours, the building was a total loss. Only the Co-op’s records were salvageable.
A building was rented for administration, but a location needed to be found for the store. Several buildings were considered, but the board finally settled on the hockey arena. An odd choice at first glance, but it provided floor space, parking, and a great location. Federated Co-op and other co-ops provided manpower, making the store operational. The “Co-op Arena” achieved record sales in the first week.
The arena had modern tills, coolers, and a large inventory. Everyone banded together during this time to provide service to the community.
By November of 1992, the Co-op had moved into a new, modern facility.
The 80s faded and economic conditions improved. In 1990, the Nipawin Shopping Centre was renovated and computerized tills were introduced for the first time.
In 1991, the Choiceland store was renovated to accommodate a postal outlet and the Farm Supply changed locations when White’s Lumber was purchased and renovated in 1992.
In 1976 a Home and Agro Centre was built and celebrated its Grand Opening. The future seemed bright but struggles lie ahead.
The 1980s were the most difficult decade ever for the Co-op. Increases in interest rates on borrowed capital, poor economic conditions, and the funds needed to upgrade were the culprits. One of many cost-saving measures saw managers take a pay cut and less vacation days. The board restructured and after much consultation, several Co-op locations were closed. Only the Codette, Nipawin, and Choiceland locations remained.
The Nipawin staff chose to strike in 1985. This would be one of the longest labour disputes in provincial history. Operations continued with replacement staff until a resolution was reached in 1993. The union decertified a year later.
In 1968, the Codette Co-operative Association amalgamated with the Aylsham, Ratner, Choiceland, Garrick, and White Fox Co-ops to form the Pineland Co-operative Association.
Around this time, the practice of paying cash dividends to members at the annual meeting began. This encouraged attendance and participation at the meetings. Earnings were good during these years and membership rose substantially to over 2000 members. A milestone was reached in 1967, when sales went over the $1 million mark for the first time.
In 1960, the struggling Nipawin Co-op was reorganized as a branch of Codette Co-op. Stock was purchased and when sales exceeded expectations, the board moved to purchase and expand.
1958 saw the first pay out of equity to members over the age of 70, beginning with an advance of 10% of said equity. This practice continues today.
After 25 years in business, the original sales of $12,000 had become $361,000. A total of $63,000 was paid to shareholders in way of interest, dividends or refunds of equity during that period. The initial investment of $655 in 1929 had paid off in amazing fashion.
Metal was difficult to obtain during World War II. After years of trying, the Co-op finally purchased fuel storage tanks in 1944 and in 1945 metal was secured to build a petroleum storage warehouse.
During the 1950s the company ventured into the sale of CCIL farm equipment. The new line of products created another revenue stream for the Co-op. The company purchased Turner Garage and also began servicing equipment. At this time the petroleum storage was also moved to this site.
Due to the foresight of many of the people in the district and the desire to have their own co-operative, the Garrick Co-op was born. On June 17, 1942, 11 citizens gathered at the Pool elevator office to organize a local co-operative.
In 1943, the board and members bought the store of Sandy Landmark, which became known as the Garrick Co-op. The price of this already thriving business was $3000 for the lots and store, and $1200 for the stock.
Some of this money was raised by member loans. Members also purchased $10 shares to help raise money for this venture.
Mr. Mills from Codette and Mr. Hallman from White Fox helped the board set up the store for business. The store carried groceries, a small line of hardware, dry good, and other supplies.
In the 1950s, the old pool elevator house was purchased, moved and fastened to the side of the store. It was to be used as a warehouse.
In 1968, the Garrick Co-op became a branch of the Pineland Co-op. In 1973, a new store was built and in 1975 it reached the $100,000 mark in sales. The Garrick Co-op continued to serve the community until 1981.
(Source: Garrick History Book – From Forest to Farmland and The Observer – Journal, March 10, 1976)
By 1939 the Co-op was prosperous. On the occasion of their tenth anniversary, they had achieved sales of $84,000.
The population in the White Fox area grew steadily through the 1930s. With the completion of the bridge across the Saskatchewan River and the extension of the CPR railway from Nipawin to Prince Albert, White Fox had become a shipping point for commodities.
By 1937, efforts were underway to raise the funds required to establish a Co-op store. Approximately $200 was subscribed in member shares. Several of the founding members were directors of the Nipawin Co-op and it was proposed that this Co-op would open a branch at White Fox. An agreement was reached and the branch opened for business on July 2, 1938. George Hallman of the Codette Co-op was hired as manager.
A building on Railway Ave. was rented and renovated to accommodate new stock. This location operated as a branch until 1950, when it began to operate independently.
Petroleum sales played a significant role in the store’s success. By the 1950s a delivery truck was purchased and bulk storage began. For the next 20 years, fuel was trucked to Cumberland House during the winter months. This meant crossing the Saskatchewan River on the ice northeast of White Fox, following a winter bush trail. It also meant crossing the river ice again at Pemmican Portage.
Business increased and a new store was built in 1954. It remained the same until the 1968 amalgamation with the Pineland Co-operative.
The White Fox store closed in 1983 and the Service Station/Farm Supply branch was operational until 1989.
(Source: White Fox History Book – Where Trails End and Rivers Meet and The Observer – Journal, March 10, 1976)
Settlement at Choiceland sprang up out of the Great Depression, as southern parts of the province were hit by drought, resulting in poor crops. Many travelled north, where wood for fuel and wild meat were plentiful.
Cooperation was a must in those days and the Choiceland Consumers Co-operative Association was incorporated in September 1936 with 55 members. Alex Brown was chosen for president and remained in that role for over 20 years.
Assistance was received from the Codette Co-op in the form of advice and some initial stock. Cliff Mills was named the first manager. The first store was purchased for $250. The Co-op moved to the Robertson building in 1943 and a new store was eventually constructed in 1964 at a cost of $50,000. This store still serves as a Choiceland Food Store/Post Office today!
The Choiceland and District Co-operative Association Limited, a petroleum outlet servicing Garrick, Snowden, and Choiceland was set up in June of 1946.
In 1959, consideration was undertaken by the members at Choiceland and Snowden regarding amalgamation. This was approved and Snowden Co-op became a branch on January 1, 1960. As there was considerable liability inherited, it wasn’t until 1962 that the Choiceland Co-op began the program of paying out total equities to members over the age of 70.
The decision was made to amalgamate under the Pineland banner in 1968. This created a profitable situation for all members involved with the Choiceland Co-op.
Today, Pineland Co-op operates three locations in Choiceland. Choiceland Food Store with the post office, Choiceland Corner Farm Supply with gas bar and cardlock, and the Choiceland Fertilizer Outlet make up the group of Pineland Co-op departments.
(Source: Choiceland History – Book Log Cabin Tales and Changing Trails and The Observer – Journal, March 10, 1976)
The Nipawin Co-op was organized in 1935. Mr. Peeters became the first manager. In the late 1930s the war absorbed most capable young men in the service and older men were employed in the Wartime Prices and Trades Board. Adequate personnel were hard to find.
In 1938, the Nipawin Co-op helped organize a store in White Fox. Problems developed however, as White Fox was struggling to get started and Nipawin was not yet on firm financial ground. The combination weakened both organizations and they separated after 16 years. A decline continued in the early 1950s.
By the mid-1950s, resources were exhausted and the store was closed. In 1960, the store reorganized as a branch of the Codette Co-operative Association and the Botting Lumber Yard was purchased.
In 1968, the Nipawin branch became part of the Pineland Co-operative Association Limited, whose head office is now located in Nipawin.
(Source: The Observer – Journal, March 10, 1976)
Customers often traded lumber and other goods for groceries. Soon the Co-op had a stock of lumber and being situated on the edge of a forest, going into the lumber business was a natural transition. A lot was purchased adjoining the Co-op's new location to accommodate lumber stock. As lumber sales grew, the need for nails and other building supplies was evident. From this demand the hardware department was born.
Travelling distance for shopping was a problem in the Ratner region. As a result of this dilemma, a group in the area began a co-operative.
In 1930, a Co-op Store was started in the kitchen of Mr. and Mrs. John Lokken’s farm with capital of $675. Mr. O.O. Bakken, of the Gronlid Store, was named manager. Lloyd Lokken was the first clerk, earning $25 per month.
Folks brought butter and eggs to the store in exchange for groceries. Eggs were ten cents a dozen at Ratner, and if shipped to Melfort, folks received only 5 cents. The operation of the store was a barter business, with eggs, butter, blueberries and even moccasins taken on trade. Native peoples who commuted between Fort a la Corne and Red Earth traded their moccasins for a two dollar exchange on goods. By 1931, sales were $10,207 with savings of $443.18
During the 1940s, fuel became an integral part of the services provided. In 1949, refrigeration finally arrived as SaskPower came to the area. Extra land was purchased at a price of $64 per acre and on the property stood the store, the manager’s residence warehouses, and a bulk oil station. A picnic ground with a ball diamond and a curling rink also stood on the site and were owned by the people of the district.
Numerous changes and additions were made throughout the 1950s. In 1961, the company name was changed from Sandhill Creek to Ratner Co-op in order to be the same as the post office, which was on the premises. By 1967, the Ratner Co-op was debt free. In 1968, Ratner Co-op amalgamated with the Pineland Co-op.
Years passed and in 1983 the store closed. Petroleum delivery continued from the Ratner location until 1989.
(Source: Ratner History Book – Surrounding Ratner and The Observer Journal, March 10, 1976)
The settlement of Aylsham grew significantly in the early 1920s and by 1930 almost every quarter section was purchased. Farming operations were increasing at an alarming rate. Twine and oil were required in large quantities and this led to discussion about purchasing in car-lots, through a co-operative. This would allow all to share in the savings. Twine and oil were the only commodities handled during the next six years.
In 1935, the board decided that there was a need for a store building. To accomplish this, more member shares had to be sold. The response was favourable and a building was rented. The store was opened in November 1936, with Russel Sparling as the first manager.
By 1945, the board determined that a new store was necessary and it was operational by 1948. In the late 1950s and early 1960s there was a trend throughout Saskatchewan for people to gravitate to larger centres. Aylsham Co-op suffered somewhat because of this trend. In 1968, the board deemed it in the best interest of the membership to amalgamate with the Pineland Co-operative Association.
The Aylsham Store continued to serve its membership until 188, when the store was closed.
(Source: The Observer – Journal, March 10, 1976)
A grainery of supplies and $655: Eighty-five years ago, these were the humble beginnings of what is now Pineland Co-op.
The company officially began operating as the Codette Co-operative Association on January 29, 1929. A group of mostly farmers, fresh out of the fields were elected as the first board of directors. Walter Mills, the Co-op's first manager, was hired shortly after to operate the business in Codette.
These were men of vision, with very little in way of assets, but loads of heart and determination. Attempting to grow a business from scratch on the cusp of The Great Depression would be a monumental task
The directors had managed to raise the $655, far short of the the $1500 they had hoped for, but it was a start. A small building was rented for $25 per month and an initial stock of groceries was ordered. Products were displayed on wooden apple boxes and planks. The journey had begun.