Beyond the Farm Gate: The Story of a Farm Boy Who Helped Make the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool a World-Class Business
by E.K. (Ted) Turner
Published by University of Regina Press
Review by Keith Foster
$29.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-334-9
You can see a lot from the farm gate. Ted Turner does just that, peering into the past of the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool. More importantly perhaps, the reader can also peer into the past of the farm boy who helped transform the Pool into the world-class business that it became.
Beyond the Farm Gate serves a dual purpose – it’s both Turner’s autobiography and a history of that prairie icon, the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool. The two are so entwined that it’s hard to think of one without the other.
The son of one of the original Barr Colonists, Turner was born in a farmhouse near Maymont, SK, and raised in the Dust Bowl of the Dirty Thirties. He tells how he “rescued” his wife from her 9 to 3 job as a bank teller so she could work on the farm, “where she had the privilege to work from dawn to dusk.”
The book explores Turner’s own learning process, how he developed an ingrained passion for the cooperative movement and, as an innovator, helped farmers strengthen the Pool. He passes on to readers the lessons he learned on his way to the top, becoming president of the Pool.
Turner overcame epileptic seizures and shyness to become an outspoken representative of the Pool. He was blunt, especially over issues like the Crow Rate, which he vigorously defended against Jean Chretien. His lesson here was not to let politicians push you around, not even the prime minister.
Turner says he wasn’t sorry when the Pool’s name changed to Viterra because the company was no longer the Pool he had loved and served with passion for over 30 years. For him, the farm gate had closed forever.
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