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No.: PR3558
TITLE: North West Mill & Feed Company Fonds
CREATOR: North West Mill & Feed Company
DATE RANGE: 1892-1981, predominant 1913-1981
EXTENT: 3.49 m of textual records. – 34 transparencies : lantern slides. – 6 photographs.

In 1892, Robert Ritchie (born 1848), of Bathurst Ontario, his three brothers and his brother in law formed the Ritchie and Orsman joint stock company, and they built a mill in Strathcona where the Calgary & Edmonton Railway terminated on the south bank of the North Saskatchewan River. Ritchie had married Sarah Louisa Orsman in 1874; he moved his family west in 1892, and became manager of the Edmonton Milling Company. Edmonton Milling Company bought and sold grain and flour throughout the North- West Territories. Ritchie would eventually become the sole owner. He became an alderman and mayor of Strathcona (1901), and operated the mill until 1918.

Ritchie sold the mill to the North-West Milling Company Ltd., and in 1920, it became the North-West Mill & Feed Company, when a feed mill was built alongside the flour mill. The Mill was sold to the Canadian Biscuit Company of London, Ontario, which changed its name to McCormick’s in 1935. By 1942, McCormick’s was looking to divest itself of the plant, and with the support of Francis Winspear, George Mills Cormie purchased the company in 1942. From 1942 to 1945, North West Mill & Feed Company helped meet international flour demand, producing flour for shipment through the world.

George Mills Cormie was born June 9, 1892 in Fergus Ontario, to John Cormie, a farmer. G.M. Cormie had three brothers and two sisters. He attended school in Ontario, and worked on his father’s farm until he was 17. He attended the Ontario Agricultural College at Guelph for two years, and came to Alberta in 1913, living with an uncle in Calgary. He returned east at the outbreak of the First World War, but was not allowed to enlist due to an old leg injury.

Owing to his understanding of agriculture and interest in breeding, he was sent to Edmonton as the Assistant Dominion Poultry Representative for the Federal Livestock Branch, Poultry Division of Alberta in 1916. He became the representative in 1918, and held the position until 1929, when he moved to the provincial department of Agriculture as Poultry Commissioner for Alberta. As commissioner from 1929 to 1937, he headed a staff of inspectors responsible for organizing the import and export of poultry, and advised and assisted poultry farmers with the effective breeding, feeding, management and marketing of turkey, poultry and poultry products.

During the period of 1922 to 1936, Cormie also operated possibly the largest poultry farm in western Canada at Jasper Place, and from 1938 to 1943, he operated a hog farm, also at Jasper Place. He married Mildred Bessie Mercer in Calgary in 1918, and they had three sons (George Jr., John Gordon, and Donald Mercer) and three daughters (Evelyn, Allison and Helen). Mildred died in March 1933. George Cormie married Emilie Shep in 1934. They had no children. She died in 1970, George in 1971.

In 1937, Cormie was dismissed by the provincial government and joined the North West Mill & Feed Company, establishing a Feeds Department there. He became manager of the plant in 1937, and bought out the plant from McCormick’s (made up of a flour mill, feed mill and grain elevator) in 1942.

As president of the company, Cormie added to the business over time, for example purchasing adjacent land, and buying the Anderson Grain & Feed Company in Calgary, changing the name to Gold Medal Feeds Ltd. His son, J. Gordon Cormie, bought his father’s interest in Gold Medal Feeds in 1945, acting as owner and manager.

The flour mill in Edmonton closed in 1952 and was converted to a modern feed plant. Animal feed became the primary product of production and sale for the mill. Donald M. Cormie bought the mill in 1967, with George’s brother in law, William (Bill) Coutts working as manager until 1976, when Coutts’ son-in-law, Bill Olive took over management. Milling operations ceased in 1978 when the property was sold to Menno Developments. In December 1978, Cormie Ranch Ltd., a corporation run by Donald M. Cormie, purchased all remaining assets of North West Feed. The mill structure was declared a Provincial Historical Resource in 1979. It is still located at 10171 Saskatchewan Drive, in Edmonton, and is the oldest surviving flour mill in the province.

SCOPE AND CONTENT: The fonds consist of administrative and operational records created by various staff in the course of managing the North West Feeds company and the mill. The records document all aspects of the running of the mill, and included are ledgers related to feed and mix production, sales and purchases, financial records, and correspondence related to the daily operation and upkeep of the mill and the property up to its dissolution and sale.

The fonds includes records of incorporation, efforts to have the site designated a provincial historic site, minutes of director meetings, as well as some records related to the operations of Gold Medal Feeds.

Records created prior to the sale of the mill to George Cormie include ledgers related to general accounts, sales and payroll, as well as a photograph of George Mills Cormie, and lantern slides that depict company buildings, equipment and products.

ASSOCIATED MATERIAL: Bruce Cormie also donated a number of artefacts, including a lantern slide projector, George Mills Cormie's Christening gown, and a Plexiglas North West Feed sign. All artefacts are pending transfer to the holdings of the Royal Alberta Museum.
RELATED RECORDS: Other records pertaining to the Cormie Family can be found in the Cormie Ranch fonds (PR3581) at the Provincial Archives of Alberta.

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