Title and statement of responsibility area
A.E. McKenzie Company fonds
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Dates of creation area
1887-1996, predominant 1910-1974 (Creation)
Physical description area
7.47 m textual records
ca. 500 photographs
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Archival description area
Name of creator
The A.E. McKenzie Seed Co. Ltd. was founded in 1896 by Albert Edward McKenzie as The Brandon Seed House. In 1906, the company underwent a change of name when A. E. McKenzie, who up until that point had been running the company on his own, decided that the growth of the country demanded a larger seed institute than could be managed by just one man. As a result, the company was incorporated under the Joint Stock Companies Act as A. E. McKenzie Seed Co. Ltd., under the Statutes of the Province of Manitoba, and new personnel were hired. Initially comprised of three divisions, The Brandon Seed House, Brandon Nurseries and Brandon Greenhouses, with each division registered under Dominion Patents, the company was later divided into Retail Mail Order, Wholesale and Commission Packet Trade divisions, as well as some export business. Located at 30 9th Street, Brandon, Manitoba, the head office and plant of A.E. McKenzie Seed Co. Ltd. housed all the facilities and staff of the company, except the regional sales offices and warehouses. In 1908 the first branch of the A. E. McKenzie Seed Co. Ltd. was established at Calgary. In the following sixteen years additional branches were established in other Canadian cities. In 1930, McKenzie Seeds created the Seed Marketing Co. as a means of supplying distressed farmers with seed. This was accomplished through a Seed Grain Mortgage; this agreement was made before planting took place. Following harvest the mortgage was to be paid off. The Company fell into default and ceased to exist in 1962. In the years 1944-1945, the McKenzie Foundation was created, at which time 90% of the shares of the company were turned over to the Manitoba Government for the benefit of higher education, specifically Brandon College. Since 1975 the crown has held all shares of the McKenzie Co. through the Province of Manitoba. A.E. McKenzie died on September 25, 1964 at the age of 94 and was succeeded as president by a number of individuals. Late in 1971 A. E. McKenzie Co. Ltd. purchased its largest competition in packaged seeds - Steele Briggs Seed Co., and at the time of the acquisition the company changed its name to A. E. McKenzie Co. - Steele Briggs Seeds. Other acquisitions included McFayden Seeds (1941), the Canada Seed Company, which merged with Steele Briggs in the 1930's, Brett-Young Seeds (1971), and Pike & Co. (1982). In 1994 the Manitoba Government sold the A.E. McKenzie Seed Co. Ltd. to Regal Greetings and Gifts.
Name of creator
A.E. McKenzie was born in Wilcox Lake, Ontario in 1870 to F.B. and Maria (Carley)McKenzie. His family came to Manitoba in 1883. He was educated in Brandon, Manitoba and graduated from the Collegiate Institute at age 21. In 1902, McKenzie married Laura Bell. Together they had two daughters, Marjorie Bell and Kathleen. Throughout his life in Brandon, Mr. McKenzie was the principal figure in the A.E. McKenzie Seed Co. Ltd. Mr. McKenzie was very involved in the life of Brandon College. For many years he was a member of its Board of Directors. In 1931, McKenzie organized the Brandon Board of Trade to help save Brandon College when the Baptist Union of Western Canada threatened to withdraw its financial support of the College. When the Baptist Union did withdraw its support in 1937, Mr. Mckenzie's personal and financial interventions saved the College from failure.In 1941, Mr. McKenzie received an honorary L.L.D. from the University of Manitoba. Mr. McKenzie died at the age of 94 on September 25, 1964.
In December of 1994 the Province of Manitoba sold A.E. McKenzie Seed Co. Ltd. to Regal Greetings and Gifts. The records of McKenzie Seeds and its subsidiaries were retained in the McKenzie Plant on 9th Street until April of 1997 when the McKee Archives at Brandon University acquired them. Because the company was a crown corporation, the records of McKenzie Seeds belonged to the Province of Manitoba and might have been placed in the Provincial Archives. However, an arrangement between Gordon Dodds, the Provincial Archivist allowed for the records, with the exception of the minutes of the Board of Directors, which are held in the Provincial Archives, to be retained in Brandon at the S. J. McKee Archives. The records have been held there since that time. Until 1960 the minutes, by-laws of the Company and the letters patent of incorporation (April 7, 1906) were in the possession of the Company's lawyers, Johnson Garson Forrester Davidson & Steen.
Scope and content
The fonds consists of textual records, photographs and artifacts from A.E. McKenzie Seed Co. Ltd. The textual records include minutes, documents, financial records, administrative records, by-laws, legal records, catalogues, sales literature, seed packets, newspaper clippings, appraisals, publications, scrapbooks and miscellaneous sections. In addition, some of the records within the fonds relate to the operations of McKenzie subsidiaries -- Brett-Young Seeds, Steele-Briggs Seeds, Pike & Co. and McFayden Seeds -- and various properties owned by McKenzie Seeds. There are approximately 500 photographs that depict the operations and employees of McKenzie Seeds and the seed industry in general. The artifacts include blueprints, newspaper clippings, copper printing plates, seed bags and plaques. As well, an artificially created series of records dealing with Brandon College Inc., the McKenzie Foundation, the Brandon Allied Arts Council and the Brandon Board of Trade has been created within the fonds but identified as records outside the provenance of the McKenzie Seed Co. Of particular interest within the textual records are the transcripts of various features of the company's history as dictated, researched and remembered by its second President/General Manager, J. Lasby Lowes. The fonds also contains an almost complete catalogue collection with high production values. Outside of the seed industry, the records dealing with both Brandon College Inc. and the McKenzie Foundation are significant pieces of the history of Brandon College/University and the City of Brandon. Within the photograph collection, the pictures of the McKenzie Strike of 1944 are worth mentioning; aside from these photographs there is no record within the fonds that mentions the event. The photographs depicting the operations and workers of McKenzie Seeds, both in the plant and in the field are also noteworthy, as are the product production photos, as they provide a visual history of agriculture and the seed industry in Western Canada.
Immediate source of acquisition
Original documents from various series were removed by J. Lasby Lowes in the course of his research. Documents remain in J. Lasby Lowes sub-series within the President/General Manager series.
Language of material
Script of material
Location of originals
Availability of other formats
Restrictions on access
Because the A.E. McKenzie Seed Co. Ltd. was a crown corporation, the records in the fonds are subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).
Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication
Online version of finding aid available at: http://www.brandonu.ca/library/archives/old%20Site/finding_aids.htm
Related material: Additional records related to the Brandon Council of Women are located in the Brandon Council of Women fonds in the S. J. McKee Archives. MG 1 (A.E. McKenzie fonds), sub-series I (Brandon College Inc.) of the A.E. McKenzie Seed Co. Ltd. Fonds contains photographs relating to the History of Brandon College Inc. booklet. RG 1 Brandon College fonds in the S. J. McKee Archives contain additional information on A.E. McKenzie, particularly his involvement with Brandon College. Additional information on the Brandon Allied Arts Council is located in the Brandon Art Club fonds 3-2001 in the S.J. McKee Archives. Additional information regarding the McKenzie Board of Directors is located in the George McDowell Collection (9-2002), Box 4, File 11.
Associated material: Additional records regarding A.E. McKenzie Seed Co. Ltd. are housed at the Provincial Archives of Manitoba.
Language of material note
Material primarily in English, although some documents are in Gregg shorthand.
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