HUMAN NATURE - The Fort Whyte Story
Fifty years ago, southwest Winnipeg was the home of a cement plant, with shallow open-pit mines supplying clay to the cement factory. As the city expanded, encroaching on the woodlands, a group of duck hunters and nature buffs decided that the flooded open pit mines would make an excellent waterfowl refuge. Over the ensuing years, hundreds of volunteers and benefactors got behind the project and today FortWhyte Alive is the leading nature education centre in Canada.
It was a privilege working on this book and spending time at Fort Whyte, getting to know the people who built the place and hearing stories from the 300-odd volunteers who keep it running. Ken Cudmore, the site manager, is a backwoodsman who claims to have the best job in Winnipeg, and he's a great storyteller. He used to keep a pet chipmunk in his pocket, and was once attacked and hospitalized by a bull bison. As he recalls, :"I didn't tell the nurses it was only two months old."
The company traces its history back to the ancient days of the Canadian fur trade. It merged into the Hudson's Bay Company in 1821, and continued as the Fur Trade Department, and then the Northern Stores Division of Hudson's Bay Company.
In 1987, the division was acquired by a group of investors and relaunched under its original name. Today, the North West Company fulfills the role that Hudson’s Bay trading posts once played in the old fur trade days.
Interestingly, the company has recently branched out into the tropics, with stores in places like Guam and the Caribbean, supplying quality, low priced retail goods to marginalized people of colour where the backdrop consists of palm trees instead of pine trees.
THE FIRST CENTURY
-the Story of Paterson Global Foods
Paterson GlobalFoods (PGF) is a private, family owned, agri-food business with a long-standing history deeply rooted in Canadian agriculture.
Originally established in 1908 as N.M. Paterson & Company Limited, Paterson once concentrated on the western Canadian grain trade, with dozens of tall wooden elevators emblazoned with the company’s trademark “P” and huge grain ships plying the Great Lakes.
Today, PGF is a conglomerate of international agri-food businesses shipping high quality agricultural commodities to suppliers and consumers across the world.
PGF and Pioneer (owned by the Richardson family) are the largest family owned grain companies in Canada. Andrew paterson, the president of PGF, is the grandson of the founder Norman Paterson, and he has built a business empire that would make his grandfather proud.
Every farmer in the world knows the name “MacDon.” But if you conducted a random poll in Winnipeg, Canada, very few citizens would be aware that thousands of globally renowned harvesting machines are being manufactured right there in their home town.
This family-built company doesn’t seek publicity. In fact, MacDon calls itself “the quiet leader” and stays busy designing and making harvesting equipment so flawless in performance that even big players like John Deere and Case avoid directly competing.
The company was launched in 1953 on a side street of Winnipeg; in an auto repair shop so small that the owner’s wife would take harvester parts home on the weekend and paint them on her front porch. Today, MacDon equipment is sold worldwide through offices in Canada, the United States, Australia, Russia, Brazil and Europe. The owners, the MacDonald brothers, are fine gentlemen who get nothing but praise from their 1.500 employees. This is MacDon’s rags to riches story.
Behind every successful company there's a Hollywood-worthy tale of people striving to overcome barriers and create something lasting. I've worked on a number of corporate histories. Here are some of my favourites...