Walter W. Brown
In a sense Walter Brown, the general manager of the Produce Department of the Saskatchewan Co-operative Creameries Ltd., with headquarters in Regina, has only worked for one firm all his business life. That means he has never stormed up to his boss and said he was leaving, and he has never been fired. That sounds like something of a record, in view of the fact that he’s retiring at the end of this present year.
An agricultural student, Walter graduated from the University of Saskatchewan in 1925 and went to work for the J.A. Caulder Creamery Co. Ltd. This firm was later taken over by the Saskatchewan Co-operative Creameries in ’27. He was branch manager for the Co-op at Bulyea where a creamery was operated. Then he went to Wilkie for two years and was transferred to Yorkton where he spent nine years.
While at Wilkie, he took the most important step in his life for he married May Andreen of Allen, Saskatchewan, in 1929. May and Walter have raised four daughters, now all married. One lives in Regina and one each in Toronto, Denver and Salt Lake. There are now eight grandchildren. On retirement he and Mrs. Brown will be making some long trips to see the family.
Moving to Regina in ’38 Walter became Superintendent of Branches and Produce Manager and he has held those positions from that time to this. As the Co-op became more interested in poultry and eggs so Walter took on added responsibilities. Saskatchewan has always been primarily a wheat province but the thousands of grain farmers have also produced a good volume of cream and, of course, eggs and roasting chicken. All of this was on a farm basis, sidelines to the main business of growing grain. During the war years, every egg was needed to help fill Britain’s needs and very little change took place in the slaphappy method of producing eggs. Since that time, though, the demand for large quantities of relatively low grade eggs has diminished and Saskatchewan’s production has gone down rapidly.
Today, there are more specialized egg producers coming along but not fast enough to prevent a great influx of eggs coming in from Manitoba. Consequently the Co-op has, just this year, built itself a modern plant and this has been Walter’s “baby.” Whether this operation will be enlarged or whether sufficient people will get into modern egg production in Saskatchewan to meet domestic needs, remains to be seen. Some have been in it for ten and twenty years and have obtained a remarkable price spread for high quality eggs in both Regina and Saskatoon. These pale yolked, high quality eggs have brought premiums around 20 cents per dozen, simply because there was such a contrast between them and the ordinary Saskatchewan farm produced egg. It would look as if that day was rapidly passing because if Saskatchewan does not produce a high quality egg in sufficient volume, Manitoba is right there to do the job. There will soon be no extraordinary premium such as there has been, but egg production will settle down the same as it has in all other provinces.
Walter is a good business man. He could see this coming and he has spent many hours visiting these specialized egg producers trying to get them to increase production and sell him their eggs. But he was able to offer no high premium and he found no takers. Finally, as described above, the Co-op built its own plant, but not without a lot of soul-searching on the part of the directors, Walter tells me.
A presentation was made to Walter Brown in 1965 at the annual convention at Banff, Alberta, of the Western Canada Produce Association, which he helped to form in 1945. The name of the award and the high esteem in which Walter is held by his competitors and friends cannot be better described than was done by Wally Landreth, president of the association, when he made the presentation at a luncheon, in these words –
I had in mind starting my speech like this: To me has fallen the honour etc., when I realized that no such statement was true. The stark facts are that I sought out the job, and I misused the naked power which goes with being President of the W.C.P.A. to grab off this plum for myself; because frankly, the reflected honour which attaches to the duty of presenting an Award of Merit is more than I can resist, especially when the person to be honoured is a personal friend of some twenty years standing, as is the case with our nominee, Mr. Walter W. Brown of Saskatchewan.
The custom of presenting an Award of Merit to some worthy and well qualified member of the Trade was begun about ten years ago. It is not an honor that is given lightly; indeed, very few awards have been made, and those only to members of demonstrable merit because the terms are quite difficult to meet. The person making the presentation must make a strong “case” for so doing; otherwise the Award, with the passing of time, will be thought the less of by both the association and the recipient. I think it significant of the esteem in which Mr. W.W. Brown is held that he was nominated for this Award not only by his own Saskatchewan Division, but by the Alberta and Manitoba Divisions as well.
Service to the Industry
Service to the industry over a long period of time is, of course, a prime qualification for this Award. Mr. Brown first appears as an industry figure in 1937, when a meeting was held at the Grant Hall Hotel in Moose Jaw to organize what was known at the time as the Saskatchewan section, Canadian Produce Association. Bill Sharpe and Art Wilson will remember that meeting. Mr. Brown served as an executive member of that organization and acted as Chairman for a year. Later, when the Western Canada Produce Association was formed in 1945 we find Mr. Brown representing Saskatchewan as a director. Since that year, Mr. Brown has been continuously a director of the WCPA until quite recently. In 1954 he served as President, has served on a large number of committees and as Committee Chairman on a number of occasions.
When the Canadian Produce Council was set up in Winnipeg in 1950, Mr. Brown was one of its provisional directors, and he has been a director of the CPC for 15 years; indeed, is still one, having been for 10 years Director-at-Large representing Western Canada. He was President of the CPC in 1955. He served for 4 years as a national director of the Poultry Products Institute of Canada Inc. during the mid-fifties and has served on the Saskatchewan Division of the PPI. He has been Chairman, and director of the Sask. Poultry Board.
Surely this is a most creditable record, even if we look at it only in terms of length of service. But we must give credit to the quality of that service as well, and to the man himself. Any excessive praise of his personal attributes would only be embarrassing to him, so I will simply say this, in the most restrained language at my command: it is the widely held view of all Mr. Brown’s colleagues and competitors, that no finer gentleman has ever been engaged in the poultry and egg business in Western Canada. How could you say more about anyone?
It almost goes without saying that Walter Brown would have been as useful a citizen member of his community as he is of this industry. Therefore, it will come as no surprise to you to learn that Walter has been associated with Church, Boys Work, and kindred activities. All this he has done quietly and unobtrusively, as you would expect of him. I think one of Walter’s greatest accomplishments is that of being able to project to his friends an image of “goodness” without at the same time projecting an image of piousness. He has virtue, you might say, without virtuosity; he possesses integrity of an unusually high order but does not make a fetish of being honest. “The more honesty a man has, the less he affects the air of a saint.” (Lavater)
Now to get down to my main purpose, that of presenting The Western Canada Produce Association Award of Merit to Walter W. Brown of Saskatchewan!
Walter, it is my genuine honor and pleasure to present to you this coveted award. It is my sincere hope and expectation that you will receive lasting satisfaction from this token of the esteem, affection, and admiration in which you have been held for so many years by so many of your personal and business friends in the Produce Trade.