world's grain exhibition and conference

The World’s Grain Exhibition and Conference was an international agriculture show held at Regina, Saskatchewan in 1933.

Original Plans

Stamp commemorating the World's Grain Exhibition and Conference.
Gerald Heinrichs

Plans for the World’s Grain Exhibition and Conference were formally unveiled in 1928.  W.R. Motherwell, then federal minister of agriculture, was the first chairman of the event’s committee.  In 1928, with the agriculture industry strong, the Exhibition and Conference was forecast as a grand international event.  It was scheduled for July 25 to August 6, 1932 at Regina.  The organizers stated that 1932 was chosen because it was “the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the City of Regina and the opening up of this great agricultural region by the Canadian Pacific Railway.”  In the formal event announcement, Prime Minister MacKenzie King stated further intentions of the Exhibition and Conference writing, “International peace and good fellowship between the nations is today the universal thought.  Such a Conference and Exhibition as is now being planned should surely give an impetus to this world movement.”

Prizes in excess of $200,000.00 were announced for the show’s grain competitions. Organizers claimed is was the “Greatest Cash Prize List Ever Offered.”  As well, the conference plans included the presentation of scientific papers from international agricultural researchers.  The event’s organizers also planned for a grand show building of 160,000 square feet costing in excess of $240,000.00.
To promote the Exhibition and Conference, organizers sent out 800,000 prize lists plus 25,000 posters, 75,000 booklets, and many other advertising items.  By 1930, participation in the show was confirmed from Peru, Guatemala, New Zealand, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Yugoslavia, Czecho-Slovakia, the United Kingdom, Siam, Chile, the Philippine Islands, South Africa, France, United States, Switzerland, Australia, and several provinces of India.

The Rocky Road 

The large plans for the international conference were shaken by the Great Depression including the fall in grain prices and grain production in 1929 and 1930.  Regardless, the report of the exhibition committee in November, 1930 stated, “There is some anxiety in regard to agriculture, but no despair.”  Nonetheless, there were concerns about continuing with the event.  A resolution before Regina City Council in October, 1931, however,  stated that it was, “Opposing any movement regarding the cancellation or postponement of the World’s Grain Exhibition and Conference.”  In the following months it was announced that the date of the Exhibition and Conference would be moved to 1933.  It was re-scheduled to run July 24 to August 5 of that year in conjunction with the annual Regina Fair.

Construction of the large Exhibition and Conference building soon became an important public works project in Regina. Some stated that its construction ought be organized to ease local unemployment.  A presentation to Regina City Council by the event organizers stated, “A great deal of consideration has therefore been given to the problem of providing employment, in order that those who were not regularly employed may have funds to support them during the coming winter.”  A submission by the city commissioners urged that the building’s  contractor “rotate weekly all labour of all kinds whatsoever used in the construction . . . as may best accomplish the relief of the unemployed.”

The Event

The Exhibition and Conference went ahead July 24 to August 5, 1933 in Regina.  In addition to hotels, the City of Regina set aside 50 acres for a tent city to accommodate 3,000 visitors.
Prizes were awarded for various grain competitions including for wheat, barley, corn, millet, field peas, and flax.  Special plots for grain growing were established just outside of Regina.  The judging of these and other exhibits involved officials from the experimental farms at Indian Head, Morden, and Ottawa. 

Coin commemorating the World's Grain Exhibition and Conference.
Gerald Heinrichs

The Exhibition and Conference was also in conjunction  with numerous Regina Fair events.  The midway was advertised as “The finest ever brought to Canada with 40 railroad cars packed with amusement and thrills.”  Performers included the Japanese Aerial Performers who stated it was their “first time on continent,” the opera Aida, the Bird of Paradise Review who were advertised as  “direct from London and Paris,” and radio entertainers The Nighthawks. 

The exhibition and conference building held dozens of displays on agriculture, science, and world events.  The building boasted one and a half miles of exhibit frontage.  Saskatchewan’s Premier, J. T. M. Anderson, urged Saskatchewan’s children to visit the building calling it “More educational value to young and old than any other event in the history of the Dominion since Confederation.”  The academic presentations at the Exhibition and Conference included issues relevant to the 1930's including “The Present World Wheat Situation and Trends,” “Causes of Agricultural Depression”, and “World’s Wheat Surpluses.” 

After the closing of the event on August 5, 1933, the Regina Leader Post reported that total attendance at the Fair and Exhibition exceeded 214,000 persons.

The Exhibition Building

World's Grain Exhibition and Conference Building.
Gerald Heinrichs

The World’s Grain Exhibition and Conference Building (also known as the Grain Show Building) was used for fair and exhibition events after 1933.  In 1955 the centre and west wings were destroyed by fire.  In later years, the remaining east wing fell into disrepair.  It was completely destroyed by fire in 2009.

Gerald Heinrichs