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UFA to stage centennial events in 2009

Alberta farmer co-operative UFA on Wednesday marked its 100th anniversary by making plans for centennial “grassroots events” this summer in towns where it operates.

UFA formed Jan. 14, 1909 with 5,000 members as a farmers’ bulk-purchasing group through the amalgamation of the Canadian Society of Equity and Alberta Farmers Association into United Farmers of Alberta. The co-operative now has 110,000 members and deals in farm inputs, fuel, commercial/industrial and ag construction and “lifestyle retail.”

UFA’s operations now include 36 farm and ranch supply stores, over 120 fuel stations in Alberta, Saskatchewan and B.C., “comprehensive construction capabilities” and retail outlets specializing in hunting, camping and fishing gear.

The co-operative, which last year opened a new head office in Calgary’s Westmount Corporate Campus, plans to host centennial “grassroots events” in some of its operating communities this summer, featuring a touring trailer exhibit titled “History in Motion.” A form to request the trailer for an event is available online.

Other centennial promotions include an interactive exhibit on UFA at the Provincial Archives of Alberta from January through March. A hardcover centennial book will be available featuring a photographic retrospective of UFA. The co-op’s farm and ranch supply stores will also sell promotional items commemorating the centennial.

A centennial logo, in the form of a snap from a pair of overalls, has been installed at UFA’s head office and can also be seen on the co-op’s website.

UFA’s influence in Alberta history includes its stint as a provincial political party, which held government in Alberta from 1921 to 1935.

Following its defeat by Social Credit, UFA got out of party politics in 1939 to refocus on the farm supply and fuel business. In 1954 it opened its first farm supply store and in 1957 took over Maple Leaf Petroleum, an Imperial Oil subsidiary with which it had partnered since 1935.

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