War Again but Prosperity Ahead - the 1940's
orld War II lasted until 1945 and many men and women from Portage and Manitoba including eleven men and women from Portage Mutual, accepted the call to arms to defeat the Axis powers. The company bought $50,000 in war bonds as its contribution. Cash surplus was close to $1 million in 1940, a lot higher than in the 1930's.
|Backing up claims was important to the Portage Mutual as this excerpt from a letter written by Thorpe to all agents in 1944 attests:
"When an assured of ours is unfortunate to have a loss, they do not become overnight...someone to view with suspicion. You will at all times when making an adjustment, use courtesy, tact, sympathy and be a counsellor and guide to the assured. You usually find an error in the application. For this reason the Directors have gone on record as follows: There is to be no quibbling on technical or minor issues when a loss occurs. If the assured is to be hurt financially, by a too strict interpretation of the contract, through no fault of his own, a broad view is to be taken, and he is to be paid in each and every case."
In 1941 the Federal Government introduced a wheat acreage reduction program (following the introduction of delivery quotas) after heavy crops and no markets the previous year.
Third party liability insurance was discussed by the Directors.
Phyllis McDonald was hired in 1942 and, after 42 years is still working for the company.
In 1943, the Company's assets topped $1 million. Farmers were mechanizing again and equipment companies flourished. In 1944, Co-op Implements was established.
In 1946, the Portage Mutual added inland transportation insurance to its policies and claimed complete insurance coverage, except for life insurance.
Those who fought in the war returned and it was back to business. In 1946, Les Green was hired as supply clerk and printer and is now a senior underwriter with the company, having spent 38 years on the job. In late 1947, E.L. Kitchen was elected a provisional Director and remained a Director for 28 years.
The Company's growth surged again in 1948 when the building was expanded, but soon overflowed into a structure that is now the Mayfair Gift Shop.
As 1948 drew to a close, farmers were watching wheat stocks rise. Prices were higher at around the $1.80 per bushel level but remained under $2 per bushel for many years. The Canadian Wheat Board was made compulsory in 1943. Wheat prices remained under $2 until the early 1970's, when foreign purchases had an effect. The tractor had replaced the horse for good and the threshing gangs drifted quietly into the pages of history.