A Sketchy Beginning

open book

May 15, 2019

By John Kerr

Little is known about the first 12 years of the association’s operation: minutes were either not taken or are no longer available to us. We do, however, have the following comments from Honourary Life Member Harry Horsman.

“On my first trip to Toronto, for the CEA Convention, I was received and treated in much the same manner as the return of the Biblical Prodigal Son. Following our discussions in Eastern Canada, the group hired a secretary-manager, Mr. Dick Edmunds. Upon my return to Vancouver a meeting of the British Columbia Electrical Distributors was arranged, and all distributors joined CEDA that evening. That group was made up of the following companies: Brett all, Gough, McLennan, McFeely & Prior (Acklands), Marshall Wells, Cope & Sons (Van Horne Electric), Black Brothers, and E.B. Horsman & Son. To which were later added Ideal Electric, Leery, Hickman Tye, and Northern Electric.

“Two vital aspects for the success of this new organization emerged. The first was the reception and acceptance of CEDA by practically all manufacturers and their CEMA organization.  The second, and I cannot overemphasize this point too strongly, the Canadian General Electric Co. immediately joined as an Associate Member and later took out full membership. It can now be mentioned that Northern Electric declined our original invitation, and it was several years later that their application was received and accepted.

“It may also be worthwhile in examining the years 1934 to 1945 to show the courage and foresight of our CEDA pioneers. While some of the data tables are dated 1945, it should be remembered that 1934 was in the middle of the great depression, and from 1939 to 1945 prices and wages were frozen due to the war. I well remember one of our earliest goals – because we were depression oriented – was to create a two-year credit balance cushion for operating costs.

CLASS           MEMBERS          SALES IN $,000                     DUES                   TOTAL

A                    3                           LESS THAN $100                $150.00              $450
B                    13                         100 TO 300                        $250.00          $3,250
C                    11                         300 TO 500                        $350.00             $3,850
D                    5                           500 TO 750                        $450.00             $2,250
E                    4                            750 TO 1000                      $550.00             $2,200
F                    2                            OVER 1000                         $650.00             $1,300
_______________________________________________________________
TOTALS        38                                                                                               $13,930

                      1                            ASSOCIATE MEMBER      $500.00                 $500
                      13                          BRANCHES                        $10.00                 $130
_______________________________________________________________
TOTAL                                                                                                          $13,300

 

“Pure educated guess only, (on Harry’s part) would indicate that the two distributors with sales over one million dollars were both in Montreal: Union Electric and Frank Levaseure.

“To add a bit more to the perspective of that period, taken from my father’s (E.B. Horsman) Trade Price Book dated August 8th 1937:

 

1% 2” Galv. Rigid Conduit                       $ 9.30  C
2” Galv. Rigid Conduit                             $39.40 C
No. 14 S.B.R.C. wire                                 $  7.50 M
No. 12 S.B.R.C. wire                                  $10.30 M

“However, it might be as well to remember that, at least until 1945:

 
1 loaf of bread cost 10 cents
1 lb. of butter cost                                  23 cents
1 qt. of milk cost                                     15 cents
Cigarettes were                                       25 cents per pkg of 25

 
The Kerrisdale taxi took you anywhere within the Vancouver city limits for $1.00.”

As we said earlier, records for the first 12 years are nonexistent. We do know that H. H. (Ham) Gardiner became president in either 1942 or 1943, and we will pick up the story in 1945.

John Kerr is Publisher of CEW.

Source: CEDA: Fifty Years of Service – An Historical Review of the Canadian Electrical Distributors Association, 1934 to 1984, Kerrwil Publications. Please feel free to reach out to us anytime if you have great photos, historical anecdotes or perspectives. We would love to hear from you; linegoyette@kerrwil.com.

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