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Rigs pull freight and furs

The business grew slowly through the years of the First World War. Restricted to local hauls by the limited abilities of horse-drawn drays, the company focused on warehousing and distribution. Acting as agents for the Canadian National and Northern Alberta Railways, strapping young men loaded MacCosham rigs with general freight from eastern Canada and then trotted manufactured or household goods behind Belgian draft horses back to the warehouse for storage and eventual distribution. Even difficult to handle equipment, like boilers, were hoisted onto wooden wagons with the use of "A" frames and a group of able-bodied hands. In the Edmonton area, the firm shipping everything from hardware to cornflakes within a 10-mile radius. By 1918 the company had just begun to use motor trucks. The financial statement for that year showed the company spent $4,852 on horse fee, veterinary and blacksmith services.

During the war years, the Calgary and Edmonton offices survived primarily on railway freight contracts and a pool car distribution. Workers broke down rail car loads into blocks to be carted over to MacCosham's warehouse for storage or to business or industrial consignees. The company secured a lion's hare of the storage market by initiating the first modern, high palletized container warehouses with 24-foot clearances.

Throughout his career, R.V. MacCosham was assisted by his wife, the former Mazie B. Wright, whom he married on Labor Day, 1919. R.V. gave up his room in Bachelors Hall and moved his new wife into a suite at the then fashionable Arlington Apartments not far from the city's bustling downtown.

By the end of the war Mr. MacCosham had shut down his stables and turned to the more modern International Harvester trucks to deliver a larger payload, greater distances. But dirt prairie roads often made long distance service impractical. A line haul could involve hours of travel in compound low gear and perilous river crossings on ferries that could barely take the weight of a fully loaded furniture van.

It wasn't until the Trans-Canada Highway opened that the company expanded its household moving operations with the opening of a Saskatchewan office in 1946. But the early trips were not without incident. The first van dispatched to Saskatchewan met with an accident. The driver was to report at the end of each day the progress made. At the end of the first day, the driver reported that the van had hit a tree. R.V. replied, "My god, there is only one tree in all of Saskatchewan and my van has to run into it."

It has taken over 30 years to turn the Alberta company into a western Canadian operation, which was soon enough for Vic MacCosham. He wasn't interested in going into debt and feared mortgage debt most of all, often reminding his contemporaries that "interest goes on while you sleep."

 

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