Insurance Company Home Office Turned Museum Chronicles Local Heritage

Insurance Company Home Office Turned Museum Chronicles Local Heritage

A Journey into Wawanesa, Manitoba

The Town of Wawanesa, Manitoba has a fascinating and important history. Beginning in the early 1880s, when the first settlers began trickling in, leading to incorporation as a village in 1909, and up to the present, they have developed a history that has displayed an industrious, productive and vibrant community.

For example, the Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Co. is a major modern-dayCanadian insurance firm. Currently, the company's executive offices are located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with regional offices across Canada and operations in the United States.

But back in the late 19th century the company got its start in the small rural  Village of Wawanesa (Now part of Oakland-Wawanesa after a rural almagamation in 2015).

The Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company (called “The Mutual” by locals) was founded in 1896 by Alonzo Fowler Kempton and Charles Kerr of Souris. Their idea, apparently developed one night camping on the prairie, was to develop an insurance company for farmers. They received a Provincial charter and opened an office on the second floor of one of Wawanesa’s drug stores. The first policy was written on October 9, 1896, to insure a threshing machine for $600, with a premium of $24.

The company was able to build their own office at a cost of $1,695.45. The present large office building was built in 1930.

Kempton served as President until 1922 and then was succeeded by C.M. Vanstone, in whose drug store the operation had originally operated.

The Mutual also developed the Liberty Fire Extinguisher Company, which was in a separate building in town (it closed in the early 1970s) and in 1946 developed a staff house from an older house in town, which was replaced in 1962 by a new building.

Today the little operation that started over a drug store in Wawanesa has offices in Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Moncton, with headquarters Winnipeg.

In the meantime, the Sipiweske Museum calls home the 1903 Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company building at 102 4th Street. It contains contains a collection of over 6,000 artifacts and memorabilia from Manitoba's early pioneer days as well as from the Criddle Family, Nellie McClung, and the Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company.

Source Credit to: Heritage Manitoba and Day Trips Canada