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The railway ‘spaghetti’ network

Our History: January 1975

The map of the rail network in Western Canada looked a lot more like spaghetti in 1975. In our January 2 issue, we reported that the federal government had announced the basic rail network of 12,413 miles would be protected until 2000, and that 6,283 miles would be reviewed. It was later announced that would be by a Royal Commission under former Supreme Court Justice Emmett Hall.

The grain market was still feeling the effects of low world production and the massive Soviet purchases under the “Great Grain Robbery” in 1972, and we reported that Manitoba farm cash receipts in 1974 were a record $825 million. The wheat board had announced record final payments, bringing the return for No. 1 CWRS to $4.57 per bushel, which is $20.07 in current dollars.

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However, yields were lower. A Statistics Canada report issued that month said average Prairie wheat yields for 1974 were 23.2 bushels on summerfallow and 17.6 bushels on stubble.

Later that month we reported on a report by a Manitoba legislature special committee on farmland ownership. It said that non-resident ownership increased land prices and threatened the family farm. “The price of farmland has risen to the point where it is impossible to purchase a farm for any person who does not have very substantial financial means,” the report said, adding that it had made it difficult for young people to start farming or to take over from the previous generation.

That month the Winnipeg Commodity Exchange announced that it had indefinitely cancelled its beef futures contract for lack of interest. The contract had been introduced four years earlier.

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