MHS Centennial Business: Parrish & Heimbecker
The origins of the agri-food company Parrish & Heimbecker date to 1890 with the Brandon firm of Parrish & Lindsay under founders William Linton Parrish and William James Lindsay. It operated a 12,000-bushel grain elevator and an 8,000-bushel “flat warehouse” at Brandon, adding a 70,000-bushel elevator at Brandon by 1892, and within a year a 30,000-bushel elevator at Beresford, 40,000-bushel elevator at Hamiota, and 40,000-bushel elevator at Oak River. Typical of the time, the numbers and locations of buildings belonging to the company fluctuated. In 1896, they had six elevators and two warehouses; by 1897, they had six elevators and three warehouses extending as far west as Regina, Saskatchewan and perhaps to Edmonton, Alberta where an elevator licensed to “S. Parrish” became part of the company.
The partnership seems to have ended around 1900 with Lindsay taking the elevators at Brandon and Beresford, and Parrish taking the other three elevators and four warehouses. Lindsay became the Manager of the Grain Growers Grain Company elevators (obtained from the Manitoba Elevator Commission). In 1908, Lindsay went into partnership with Thomas Sutherland Matheson, George W. Lindsay, and Frank L. Taylor in the Matheson-Lindsay Grain Company, at Winnipeg.
Parrish & Heimbecker was incorporated on 14 April 1909, in Winnipeg, through the partnership of William Linton Parrish and Norman George Heimbecker. Initially, they seem to been primarily commission merchants and track buyers that did not operate elevators until about 1918. By 1918-1919, they had 16 elevators in Alberta, most if not all having been obtained from the firm of Strong & Dowler. William Johnstone Dowler became a Vice President of P&H and of the Superior Elevator Company, a P&H subsidiary which owned a 900,000-bushel terminal elevator at Port Arthur, Ontario.
Compared to other active grain companies on the Canadian prairies, P&H did not have a lot of elevators. Over the years, they picked up elevators here and there, such as ones at Indus and Calgary (Alberta) from Home Grain (1925), Hogg and Lytle (1926), and Terwilliger (1927). Around 1929, they bought 8 of the 12 elevators owned by the Dwyer Elevator Company, includng some in Saskatchewan. Some elevators were subsequently resold. For example, the elevator at Tilley (Alberta) bought in 1928 from Pioneer was sold two years later to McCabe. By 1940-1941, they had 71 elevators after purchasing around 18 in Saskatchewan from Western Canada Flour Mills. In 1952-1953, they had 67 elevators. Others were obtained from Robin Hood (1968) and Quaker Oats (1973) but overall numbers declined. In 1970-1971 they had 59 elevators. In 1975, they bought Ellison Milling (based at Lethbridge, Alberta) along with its line of elevators in southern Alberta. But by 1987-1988, they only operated 43 elevators, and by 1989-1990, only 32 elevators.
On 5 December 2017, Parrish and Heimbecker received an MHS Centennial Business Award.
Country Elevators / Terminal Elevators (Manitoba)
“Local news paragraphs,” Winnipeg Tribune, 27 November 1908, page 12.
“Matheson-Lindsay Grain Company,” Brandon Sun, 26 August 1909, page 15.
“Elevator burns at Moosehorn,” Winnipeg Free Press, 13 November 1963, page 13.
Grain: The Entrepreneurs by Charles W. Anderson, Winnipeg: Watson & Dwyer Publishing, 1991.
Grist for the Mill: My Life in the Grain Business by William B. Parrish, Kentville (Nova Scotia): Gaspereau Press Limited, 2009, 167 pages.
We thank William B. Parrish, Roberta Kempthorne, and John Everitt for providing information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 11 December 2021