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April 23, 2024

A Bag Full Of History: Ogilvie Flour Mill Memorabilia

Heritage Winnipeg would like to thank Mary and Bill Gulka for their thoughtful donation of Ogilvie Flour Mill memorabilia that once belonged to Tom Moore, a Purchasing Manager at the Ogilvie Flour Mill in Winnipeg. These unique pieces are a tangible connection to Winnipeg’s historic involvement in the Canadian grain industry and to a landmark mill that no longer graces our skyline. Bill Gulka, the General Manager of Bonar Packaging in the 1980s and friend of Tom Moore, recounts the history behind the memorabilia:

To better supply Ogilvie Flour Mills at 55 Higgins Avenue along with other customers, Bemis Brother Bag Company constructed a factory in 1906 which became the first reinforced concrete building in Western Canada at 311 Alexander Avenue to produce cotton and jute bags. A series of mergers and acquisitions resulted in the company’s name changing to Bonar and Bemis Ltd. and eventually Bonar Packaging Ltd. A second factory was subsequently constructed at the corner of Sherbrook Street and Logan Avenue to manufacture small and large multiwall paper bags for flour and sugar.

A young lad, Thomas Albert Moore, born in Durham England, arrived in Medicine Hat, Alberta circa 1928. Upon graduating from high school, Tom immediately joined Ogilvie Flour Mills in Medicine Hat. Soon after, with a young family in tow, Tom was transferred to Winnipeg. Much of his life long career with Ogilvie was spent in purchasing. It is likely not an exaggeration to say that Tom likely purchased flour bags in the tens of millions, if not more, over the course of his 45 years career, the majority from Bonar.

In appreciation of Tom’s support over the decades, in the late 1980’s Bonar hosted a retirement dinner for Tom together with his family. As a memento, Tom was presented with a mounted set of zinc printing plates, both front and back, of Ogilvie 5 Roses flour bags. Cotton bag printing plates were retrieved from the archives and used to produce cotton flour bags which were then sewn into a jacket by the sewers at Bonar. Tom delightfully wore the jacket during the course of the evening.

Thank you for preserving this piece of history and letting us share it with Winnipeg! Learn more about the history of the Ogilvie Flour Mill in our blog: With the Grain: A History of Ogilvie Flour Mill.


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