The Rise and Fall of United Grain Growers

Cooperatives, Market Regulation, and Free Enterprise

Table of contents


Part 1: Birth and Growth
1 The Partridge and Crerar Years, 1906–29
2 The Law Years, 1930–47
3 A First Retrospective

Part 2: Maturity and Decline
4 The Brownlee Years, 1948–60
5 The Runciman Years, 1961–81
6 The Hehn Years, 1982–90
7 A Second Retrospective

Part 3: Demise
8 The Last Years, 1991–2007
9 The Takeover: How It Happened
10 The Takeover: The Argument In Favour
11 The Takeover: The Argument Against
12 The Takeover: A Legal Perspective
13 Why the Takeover Happened: A Business Historian’s Perspective

A Concluding Retrospective


For much of the 20th century, United Grain Growers was one of the major forces in Canadian agriculture. Founded in 1906, for much of its history UGG worked to give western farmers a “third way” between the competing poles of cooperatives like the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool and the private sector. At its peak, more than 800 UGG elevators dotted the Canadian prairies and the company had become a part of western Canada’s cultural psyche. The UGG’s history illuminates many of the intense debates over policy and philosophy that dominated the grain industry.


“In The Rise and Fall of United Grain Growers, Paul D. Earl traces the history of the Winnipeg-based co-operative grain marketing company from its origins in 1906 to its fall in a corporate takeover a hundred years later.”

- Lyle Dick