Dawson Co-operative Union members have been reaping membership benefits for 100 years now.
This week marks the Co-op's 100 birthday. In 1921, Dawson Creek was home to a homesteading lifestyle.
The Peace Region was known for its rich agricultural land, particularly its suitability for grasses. With prices being extremely high because of limited access to the Peace Region, a group of homesteaders quickly moved towards the foundation of their own co-op.
May 28, 1921, the Dawson Co-operative Union was incorporated with a membership of six. Today the Dawson Co-op has over 14,000 members and has retails in Dawson, Rolla, Tumbler Ridge, and Chetwynd.
The first purchase was made in Grande Prairie, where inventory was bought and brought back to Dawson Creek. On June 9, 1921, the Co-op rented a two-room building for $200 per year, which was paid in shares and merchandise.
Six founding members were Ed Hauger, Bill Cusack, J Macdearmid, G. Wertenbaker, Silvio Ravelli, and James Goodie. Hauger was also a manager from 1923 to 1944. He was followed by Fred Newby, who served for an 18-year term of his own. In 1922 the Co-op reported a one-year surplus of $350.86.
As the railway came to Dawson Creek in 1931, the Co-op store was moved on rollers and pulled by horses to the new town. The store remained open for business while rolling toward the new town over a two-week period.
Co-op's Marketing Coordinator Amber Donovan says the past, present, and future are all being celebrated this year. "We are showing where it all began and where we plan to go," she says.
"We have had to pivot due to COVID restrictions in place but have some amazing high visual campaigns from professional videos to a fun take on 'walking down memory lane.' It is a celebration of our history, our members, our staff, and the amazing communities we serve."
"We are looking at the past now, but June brings the here and now. We will be highlighting some non-profits and showing where our support and dollars go while keeping the membership money in the Peace Region," Donovan adds.
Indeed, the spirit of half a dozen people pooling their money together resonates more now in a 2021 pandemic world.
"We are only as prosperous as the communities we serve – and the co-op is founded on this principle."