Born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan on October 29, 1925 to Art and Olga Wilson. Frank Edward entered the produce business the day he was born since his dad was Produce Manager for the Saskatchewan Co-operative Creamery Association. When Frank was 4 years old, his dad started Wilson Produce Co. Ltd. So you see, Frank was well steeped in the industry!
As a lad he worked in the plant doing certain jobs which he really didn’t like. He hated dry plucking lousy birds. There were other jobs like making up egg cartons, packing eggs, building wooden egg cases which paid 2 cents per box. Frank claims that as he got older, he could make up twenty-five boxes per hour. In 1938, fifty-cents per hour was big money! Wilson produce also bought farm churned. Some crafty farmers, for additional weight, would load the butter with rocks. It was Frank’s job to find and remove these foreign objects and pack the butter into 56 pound wooden boxes.
When he reached high school he recalls his work at the Boys Shoppe, unpacking merchandise and working as a sales clerk. It was a nice clean job but he hated the shoe sales because there were so many boys with stinky feet. At night he would work at his Dad’s plant to supplement the $5.00 per week which he made at the Boy’s Shoppe.
In 1943 Frank joined the Navy, serving on the H.M.C.S. La Malbaie as Radar Operator and technician on the Atlantic from St. Johns, Newfoundland to London Derry, Ireland as convoy escort. The responsibility was great: the Corvette was manned by 105 crew members. Frank considers himself very lucky to come home when the war was over, without a scratch.
Frank, along with many other young war veterans, finished his education after the war ended. In February 1947, Frank graduated with a degree in Business Administration and immediately went to work for Swift’s, in the chick hatchery. Swifts were no stranger to the Wilson’s. Frank’s dad, Art, had worked for for Swift Canadian Company Ltd. from 1912 to 1920. Back in those days, Swift’s were big in the poultry industry in Canada, and even bigger in the United States. The opportunities for ambitious young men were unlimited. Frank took advantage of the opportunity and with hard work and long hours (no over-time) the advances came. Assiniboia, in 1949, to Manage the Buying Station. Back to Moose Jaw in 1951, to take charge of the turkey hatchery. On a one day notice, Frank was asked to move to Saskatoon. Swift’s General Manager had also told Frank that promotions in the organization were linked to the co-operation of the employees. So off to Saskatoon, as superintendent of the plant and hatchery.
Swift’s rewarded the Department Heads by providing “upgrading courses”; Frank Wilson and Art Gault (the only two Canadians) were sent to San Francisco for sales training.
In July of 1947, Frank Wilson and Margret Kelly married and finalized the relationship which began in Grade 7. The bond had strengthened through correspondence during the war. So, through all of the moves, promotions, work-weekends and long hours, raising a family was not easy. Frank and Margret raised three children; Bill was born in 1948, Kelly in 1951 and Francis in 1957. Margret passed away in 1991.
In January 1952, Frank asked for a $5.00 per week increase. Swifts offered $1.00. Frank then decided it was time to move on. At the same time, Wilson Produce was expanding. Frank’s dad asked Frank to come in with him, which he did. Wilson produce expanded into handling chicks, feed sales and poultry evisceration, which was just new in the industry. Things progressed very well for a number of years.
As evisceration became a general practice, more poultry products found there way into the menu. The Federal Government, through direct subsidies and grants, such as the Feed Freight Assistance, encouraged the production to move to central Canada. Provincial Governments in eastern Canada also got into the act with interest free loans, etc. All of this was happening at the expense of the Poultry Industry in Western Canada. Saskatchewan’s position was reduced from being a supplier of 30% of the Canadian needs to a mere 3% in a period of 15 to 20 years.
On March 17, 1965, Frank continued his “Poultry Career” as an Inspector with Agriculture Canada. He was very involved in the Swift Current Research Station turkey program, with Dr. Dunkelgod and Dr. Salmon
In 1967 Art Wilson died. Wilson Produce closed its doors, out-surviving all but one of the eight competitors in the Moose Jaw areas Poultry Industry.
Along with the routine duties, in 1978, Harry Robbins, District Supervisor, had Frank study the Brandon Egg Show, for the purpose starting a Poultry Show at Canadian Western Agribition. Frank organized the show and chaired it for a number of years with the Saskatchewan Poultry Council being the sponsor. Frank is still active on the
Frank was always working with and for his community. He was Troop Leader of the Moose Jaw Boy Scouts and later a Scout Master. He served on the Board of Managers of the Presbyterian Church, was Past Master and 32nd degree mason; National Vice President of the Canadian Agricultural Workers Union in charge of finance for many
years, leaving the finances in much better standing.
Frank retired in 1990 as the Inspector-in-Charge of southern Saskatchewan.
Frank met Audrey Wingert, in 1992 at the Briar. Since then it’s been a continual, happy relationship for both. Their many interests are mutual, with golfing in the summer at
Sherwood Forest where they have a Mobile Home. In the winters, it is usually spent in their Arizona home, enjoying the sunshine and most important, their Snowbird Friends.
In Audrey’s leisure time, she is an accomplished artist with Frank being the Critique!
Frank will now join his Father, to be the first Father and Son to be inducted into the Saskatchewan Poultry Hall of Fame.