Encyclopedia of the Great Plains

David J. Wishart, Editor

Western Producer, Saskatoon

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A Saskatoon-based weekly newspaper founded in 1924, the Western Producer began publishing in 1923 as the Progressive. Founders Harris Turner and Pat Waldren proposed establishing a newspaper to the Saskatchewan Grain Growers Association (SGGA), which eventually endorsed the venture, providing $7,000 in loans and 5,000 subscribers. In return, the SGGA was granted three places on the five-member editorial board. To encourage members of the recently created Saskatchewan Wheat Pool (SWP) to subscribe and to avoid association with the federal Progressive Party, the paper's name was changed, printing its first edition under the Western Producer banner in September 1924.

Despite the influence of the SGGA, the Western Producer became known for its objective, nonpartisan, high-quality reporting. Among its many influential journalists was Violet McNaughton, a prominent SGGA member and woman's rights advocate.

The Great Depression created hardships for the Western Producer. Subscriptions began falling, and, in order to avoid ruin, the SWP purchased the paper in 1931, operating it as a subsidiary. Despite the Western Producer's problems, it retained more than 100,000 subscribers during the Depression years. In the 1950s the Western Producer ventured into book publishing. Its first monograph appeared in 1958 and led to the creation of Western Producer Prairie Books. By 1983 more than 100 books on several Prairie topics had been printed. Budgetary constraints, however, led to the dissolution of the press in the 1990s.

The Western Producer continues to perform vital economic, political, and social functions. In addition to providing agricultural news, the paper includes sections for youth, women, and rural society in general. The Western Producer has had a considerable influence on Prairie society and simultaneously embodies Prairie farmers' independence and cooperative spirit.

See also AGRICULTURE: Saskatchewan Wheat Pool.

Edward Badgley National Archives of Canada

Fairbairn, Garry Lawrence. From Prairie Roots: The Remarkable Story of the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1984.

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