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The Raymond Milling and Elevator Company

Raymond Milling Company in Raymond, Alberta in July 1904. The settlement of Raymond had scarcely celebrated its first birthday when the Raymond Milling and Elevator Company began operation. The first delivery of wheat was accepted at the long, low warehouse-type elevator on October 3, 1902 and the mill began grinding Turkey Red wheat into flour on January 21, 1903. It was bagged under the brand name of "Our Best" flour.

The man with the vision, courage and a firm faith in the future of southern Alberta to launch this enterprise was Ephraim Peter Ellison of Layton, Utah, whose background included flour milling. In the spring of 1902 Mr. Ellison arrived in Raymond and was confident that the rich soil of this virgin land could produce wheat. However, old-timers felt that the Palliser report applied to the Raymond area as well as to the north and "that there would never be enough rainfall to produce a crop of wheat." At the same time the Macleod Gazette editorialized in October 1901: "It is time the Town Board takes steps to interest someone in building an elevator to hold the 30-bushel per acre wheat crop."

But Mr. Ellison had a stout heart, determined spirit and an optimistic outlook for the future of wheat farming in the area and building of the elevator began in early 1902, with the promise of some Raymond settlers that they would break the prairie sod and sow it to wheat. The first crop of Turkey Red wheat was good although harvesting it was difficult when an early fall storm dumped twelve inches of wet snow on it. The second unit, the flourmill, was erected to the west of the elevator.

In July 1903 it was reported, after six months of operation, that 53,754 bushels of wheat had been received since October 1902; that $27,443.28 had been paid for it at an average price of $.5105 per bushel; and that 15,589 bushels of wheat had been ground on a grist basis for the customers. The mill ran 120 days of 11 hours per day, except in May when the run was 10 hours per day. The mill continued to operate with fairly good success and all products were meeting with ready sale. Within the next few years sales were made across Canada and exports went to England, Scotland, Norway and far-away Hong Kong.

The rapid growth and expansion of the company's business and facilities and a bumper wheat crop in 1906 led to interest on the part of Civic authorities of the City of Lethbridge, who offered favorable incentives and encouragement to establish a flourmill in that city. After many meetings the following was agreed: a new company be formed to be known as Ellison Milling & Elevator Company Ltd., (instead of Raymond Milling & Elevator Company) so named for its president and founder, and second, that the new company be capitalized for $150,000. This company was also to be registered under the laws of the newly formed Province of Alberta. Ellison Milling & Elevator Company continues to operate and expand today in Lethbridge and is the last large wholly-Canadian-owned milling company in Canada.

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