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McMillan, Ivan (1911–2002)

Ivan McMillan, a prominent figure in the prairie grain industry, was born on the family farm near Craik, Saskatchewan in 1911. He had hoped to join his father in his prosperous grain farming and horse breeding operation, but this was prevented by the advent of the Great Depression. After a year at the University of Saskatchewan, he taught school and worked as a dairy inspector until he was able to resume farming in 1937. McMillan first gained recognition in agricultural circles for his efforts in improving grain production practices. In 1937, the family farm was selected as the site of an Experimental Substation of the Indian Head Experimental Farm. There, in co-operation with the Experimental Farm and the regional Agricultural Representative, McMillan experimented with seed varieties and implemented methods of cultivation, crop rotation, and fertilizer use that would ensure that the devastation of the 1930s would not be repeated. The annual field days attracted large crowds of interested farmers during the 1940s and 1950s.

As president, secretary, and committee chairman of the Craik Agricultural Society, McMillan spearheaded the organization of the annual agricultural fair, summerfallowing competitions, seed fairs, and field demonstrations. McMillan served as chairman of the District 15 Agricultural Board, and on the Royal Commission on Rural Development in the late 1940s. In 1954 and 1955 he was elected as president of the Agricultural Societies Association of Saskatchewan. He was honoured with a life membership in the provincial organization in 1962, and in the local Agricultural Society in 1975. In the 1970s McMillan became a spokesperson for the Palliser Wheat Growers Association. He was elected president of the Wheat Growers in 1975 and 1976, at the height of the controversial Crow’s Nest negotiations, and appeared before the Snavely and Hall Commissions on Grain Transportation in that capacity.

McMillan earned numerous appointments to boards and commissions. He served as a director of the Canada Grains Council, a member of the Canadian Wheat Board advisory board, an advisor to the Canadian Grains Commission, and as a director on the board of governors of the Winnipeg Commodity Exchange. In 1978 and 1979 he was part of the Canadian negotiating team at the Geneva Wheat Conference. McMillan also played a major role in community development in Craik: he was a chairman of the building committees for both the Craik Memorial Rink and the Craik Hospital, a town councillor for many years, and first chairman of the amalgamated Davidson School Unit board. McMillan was inducted into the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1996. He also excelled in curling, and in 1968 was part of the Wilson rink from Saskatoon that won the Seagram Stone, the national seniors championship, with an unprecedented ten straight wins; he was inducted into the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame in 1989. Ivan McMillan passed away on February 25, 2002.

Joan Sandormirsky

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