Recollections: Burt A. Robinson — Honourary Life Member

Looking Back

September 30, 2018

In the 1930s to 1940s, CEDA’s Western Canada membership was very stable with old line independent companies like Horsman, Ashdowns, Brettell, Marshall Wells, Electrical Supplies Ltd., etc.

Small electrical distributors just were not acceptable for membership as they did not carry the main-line manufacturers’ goods, publish a wiring device catalogue, or employ four to five salesmen as CEDA requested.

However, with the end of World War II in 1945, and with the return of men from overseas, the optimism of business upturn was very evident. In Western Canada, provincial governments were intent on pushing rural electrification. This was the turning point in the rapid growth of the electrical industry, and so newcomers entered the distribution field.

Still CEDA would not accept small distributors. CEDA’s Secretary Manager maintained that to join they had to buy/sell the main line merchandise, yet when the distributor approached the manufacturer, the reply was, “Join CEDA and we will sell to you.” A catch-22 situation. For some years small enterprising distributors had to either buy in the USA of from small manufacturers. However, some commercial and residential manufacturers saw the potential of specialty distributors and sold to them.

In the early 1950s, with the rapid expansion of all phases of the electrical industry, CEDA finally accepted membership from smaller distributors who by now has established a firm hold in their communities.

In the early days CEDA always held their annual meetings in Niagara Falls at the General Brock Hotel. Later they diversified to various locations in Ontario and Quebec, and in 1959 they ventured west to the Banff Springs Hotel, Alberta for their 25th Anniversary convention. It was not until the 1970s that a regular policy of moving the conventions across Canada was implemented.

For much of the 1950s and 60s, CEDA held a fall convention for Western members only, meeting regularly in such places as Banff, Minaki, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, and Jasper. Finally those Western only meetings were cancelled in favour of concentrating attendance on the annual meeting at which attendance by manufacturers was rapidly increasing.

CEDA conventions have enjoyed remarkable growth and is the only industry convention (in Canada) that has manufacturers and wholesalers in attendance in large numbers.When we look back to the early days of CEDA, it is gratifying to see the progress that has been made. As one who has worked with six CEDA managers from 1950 on — Dick Edmunds, Norman Franks, Doug McKellar, Norm McKellar, Dick Taylor and Stan Wild — it was these men who did the spade work that backed up the elected Directors that has made CEDA such a successful association.

Related Articles


Changing Scene

  • New E.B. Horsman & Son Northwest Edmonton Distribution Centre Opening Soon

    New E.B. Horsman & Son Northwest Edmonton Distribution Centre Opening Soon

    The countdown begins for E.B. Horsman & Sons’ New Distribution Centre opening date on May 6th. This expansion marks an exciting chapter in EB Horsman’s journey across Western Canada. As the company continues to scale it’s operations, the opening of the New Distribution Centre in Northwest Edmonton will enhance the company’s efficiency, improve service delivery, and meet the… Read More…

  • Southwire Announces Investment in Condoit

    Southwire Announces Investment in Condoit

    In support of Southwire’s focus on strategic growth, the company is pleased to announce an investment in Condoit, a software platform for electrical design, analysis and collaboration. Condoit, based in Birmingham, Ala., has developed a software application to dramatically simplify the process of documenting “as-built” drawings of electrical systems. Condoit’s software aids in the design of… Read More…


Peers & Profiles

  • Taken from Graybar Canada Linkedin Post Enjoy a glimpse of the wonderful moments from Graybar Canada’s recent customer appreciation BBQs! The company was grateful for the smiles and connections made with our amazing customers and vendors. They are looking forward to the next gathering! Source Read More…

  • Article taken from Linkedin Post Electrozad is thrilled to spotlight their Chatham Branch and recognize their exceptional efforts in cleaning up their community. The team took time to coordinate a community clean-up around their branch. This is a commendable initiative that not only helps maintain the cleanliness and hygiene around the branch but also contributes… Read More…