The People’s Co-op

The Life and Times of a North End Institution

By Nancy Kardash and Jim Mochoruk  

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Located in the heart of Winnipeg’s Northend, the most class-conscious and ethnically diverse part of the city, the People’s Co-op was always a different kind of institution. Founded and then successfully run for over sixty years by members of Winnipeg’s vibrant left-wing Eastern-European community, this co-op mixed Marx, milk and the masses into a heady brew of social activism and co-operative enterprise.

Beginning with a small coal and fuel yard in 1928-and a much larger dream of changing the world, this overtly Marxist co-op quickly established itself as an important business and social presence in the North End. It eventually branched out into the dairy trade, established a lumber yard, a public garage and at one time owned and operated two dairy plants in rural Manitoba. At its height, it employed over 150 men and women and contributed millions of dollars to the Manitoba economy-all of this in the face of cut-throat competition and well-orchestrated campaigns of red-baiting.

Heavily illustrated with never before seen photos and images, this is an illustrated history both of a co-operative business enterprise and a unique social institution.

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  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Beginnings
  • The Great Depression and the Winnipeg Milk Industry
  • The Heroic Period
  • Everyday Life and Building the Co-op
  • The Age of Crisis
  • The Co-op Comes of Age
  • The Co-op and the Cold War
  • Competition, Innovation and Diversity in a Changing World
  • The Roller Coaster Ride
  • Conclusion


  • Jim Mochoruk

    University of North Dakota

    Jim is a Professor of History at the University of North Dakota. Born, raised, and educated in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Jim received a BA (Honours) from the University of Winnipeg, and an MA and PhD from the University of Manitoba. Since arriving at UND in 1993, he has taught comparative courses in Canadian and US history at the undergraduate and graduate level, a two-course series on the British Empire/Commonwealth, and graduate historiography. He has developed more courses in Canadian history, most notably one on native history.

    Mochoruk specializes in researching northern development in Canada and the social and labor history of western Canada. He has also examined the nature of historical writing in the “Wests” of Canada and the United States.

    He was recognized as UND’s Outstanding Graduate Teacher of the year in 1998 and has been the recipient of a Faculty Research Grant from the Government of Canada, a Faculty Research Seed Money Grant from UND, and a variety of other awards and distinctions in both the United States and Canada. He has also been the author or editor of numerous publications including articles, book chapters, abstracts, monographs, and books. The most recent of Mochoruk’sbooks, “Formidable Heritage”: Manitoba’s North and the Cost of Development, 1870 to 1930 was awarded the Manitoba Historical Society’s Margaret McWilliams Award for best scholarly book in 2005.

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