The UFA vs. The Alberta Railway & Irrigation Company

Original article by Gord Tolton.  Re-edited & posted to web blog by Chris Doering and Jason Paul Sailer.


In 1909, the United Farmer’s of Alberta or the UFA, came to a civil disagreement with the Alberta Railway and Irrigation Company over the issue of rail car demurrage.


The typical practice was for the railroad company to set grain cars on a siding for the farmer to load, but the company charged extra if this was not accomplished in under 24 hours.  This overly challenging time constraint made it difficult for the farmers, who hauled grain by horse and wagon, often from long distances, and then hand loaded the boxcar by shovel.


The Cardston Farmer’s Association and various boards of trade took legal action, but had to withdraw for lack of funding.  With no love for railroads, LH Jelliff, UFA director for the Lethbridge district, pluckily took on the whole work himself.  Backed by a resolution from the UFA board, Jelliff pleaded the case all the way to the federal Railway Commission in Ottawa.


“Late in July a decision was rendered by the Commission and a splendid victory has been gained, a victory which is further emphasized by a later decision rendered in the latter part of the year, and your directors feel that this victory is mainly responsible to Mr Jelliff, who sacrificed a large amount of time and money to carry on the fight, and who then steeped aside in order that the association may get credit for the victory.”


United Farmers of Alberta, Official Reports for the Year, 1909.



If you’d like to know more about what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us at   Be sure to have the Blog title in the subject line.


All images and content are copyright Gord Tolton and Jason Paul Sailer unless otherwise noted. Do not use without permission




Tregillus family photo – the man on the left is William John Tregillus who was one of the key people within the United Farmers of Alberta party – photo taken in 1908












Caricature of William John from the Calgary News Telegram – 5th May 1913 – from this webpage –















Alberta Railway & Irrigation Company mixed train crossing the Spring Coulee bridge in 1904 – Galt Museum & Archives Photo 19731722017










One thought on “The UFA vs. The Alberta Railway & Irrigation Company

Comments are closed.