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Partridge, Edward Alexander (1861– 1931)

E.A. Partridge.
Saskatchewan Archives Board R-A15253

Edward Alexander Partridge was born in Ontario in 1861. He homesteaded near Sintaluta, where he worked as a schoolteacher and served in the Yorkton Company during the 1885 North-West Resistance. In 1886 he married Mary Stephens, and they worked together building their farm and raising a family of five. Partridge, a widely read man, began to engage in an analysis of the difficulties western farmers were facing as a result of tariff-related high costs and low prices due to the actions of the private grain trade. In 1901, Partridge and other disgruntled farmers organized the Territorial Grain Growers Association. He soon concluded that the problem was the class nature of capitalism, and that more radical action was therefore needed. He helped organize the Grain Growers’ Grain Company and edited the farmers’ news journal, the Grain Growers’ Guide. He campaigned for public ownership of the elevator system, and the “Partridge Plan” resulted in government support for a co-operative elevator company.

In 1910 Partridge joined the “Siege of Ottawa” despite having lost a leg in an accident in 1908. Then great personal tragedy struck Partridge and his wife: in 1914 a daughter drowned, and their two sons were killed in World War I service. Nevertheless Partridge would not rest: he joined the Progressive Party, and helped organize the Farmer’s Union and the Saskatchewan Co-operative Wheat Producers Limited—later to become the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool. During the 1920s Partridge laid out his vision of a better world in his book, War on Poverty, whose message reflects the remarkable resilience of the human spirit. However, Partridge was not able to recover from one final loss: his wife’s death. He left Saskatchewan, and ended his own life in Victoria in 1931.

Murray Knuttila

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