The Growers' Parliament

During this time one frequently meets a new description of the British Columbia Fruit Growers' Association. It was nicknamed the "Growers' Parliament". This was a suitable name, for with the achievement of full control of marketing through B.C. Tree Fruits, the role of the B.C.F.G.A. changed radically from lobbying for marketing control and promoting cooperative institutions; now the B.C.F.G.A.'s function was to supervise the actions of the new marketing agency. But, like the Canadian parliament in its relation to government, the role of the B.C.F.G.A. became not so much to make policies as to approve or reject them. In Canadian government, the Cabinet, in consultation with its permanent employees, originates the legislation and brings it to the elected representatives to be discussed and passed. Similarly, the B.C.F.G.A. was the body called upon to endorse or reject policies devised by the officers of B.C. Tree Fruits.

The B.C.F.G.A. did not remove itself totally from the sphere of making marketing policy. B.C. Tree Fruits, like a political cabinet, had to be ready to justify its actions to the representatives of the growers. The same delegates who elected the Board of Governors of B.C. Tree Fruits and the members of the B.C. Fruit Board also elected the B.C.F.G.A. Executive and served as directors of the Association. There were always resolutions put forward at the conventions dealing with marketing operations and proposals for changes. But generally speaking, the B.C.F.G.A., as an organization, was willing to leave the marketing agency considerable leeway in selling the fruit, particularly as the agency usually managed to perform the task more successfully than uncentralized operations had in the past. Only when returns dropped did any serious opposition arise.

B.C. Tree Fruits staff in 1947. A.K. Loyd at centre front.Courtesy IOA

Presidents D.M. Rattray, A.G. DesBrisay, and "Jock" Stirling, who led the B.C.F.G.A. during wartime and the immediate post-war years, had long experience in the fruit industry and were willing to follow a general policy of noninterference with A.K. Loyd's management of B.C. Tree Fruits. Loyd now held the positions of president, general manager, and chairman of the Board. John Hall, who was a perennial member of the B.C.F.G.A. Executive from 1945 to 1973, recalls that "in those days the B.C.F.G.A. wasn't well thought of. The Board of Governors [of B.C. Tree Fruits] were the high and mighty ones. . . . We had four meetings a year and nothing very much came of it, mostly preparation for the Convention."

B.C.F.G.A. conventions were, as one grower recalled, "love feasts" compared to pre-war convention conflicts. They could be somewhat uncomfortable, though. John Hall recalls that due to wartime shortages and stringencies, out of town convention delegates were liable to be billeted in distinctly spartan accommodation such as army barracks and community halls. The Execuffive managed to put up at a hotel, but accommodation was very limited:

[the growers] slept in double beds in what was known as the TocH. TocH was an organization formed during the War for soldiers to stay at if they had a weekend. . . . That was quite a deal. They were jammed in. But that was the only place in Kelowna. The next year TocH disappeared and we used the Armories. So we had to get a lot of straw paliasses from the camp and the delegates slept on the concrete floors. Washroom facilities were not too good but there was no grumbling. . . . From then on we found places where there were hotels.

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