Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Winnipeg Exchange *UPDATED*

During the 1800s, grain markets spread across the Midwestern prairie but eventually they became more centralized in Chicago and to a lesser extent Kansas City, Minneapolis and Winnipeg which all had price discovery done in a trading pit.   The Winnipeg Commodity Exchange is often overlooked but maintained trading pits until 2004 when it became North America's first futures exchange to go entirely electronic.  I regret having never seen it in person but at least was consoled by seeing the Winnipeg Jets play before they left!  Now that the Jets are coming back, my hope is to catch an early season game in Winnipeg this year and poke around to see what else can be learned of the exchange.

photo from flickr wintorbos
photo from David J Gagnon
photo from Canadian Wheat Board

In 2007 the Winnipeg Commodity Exchange was purchased by the Intercontinental Exchange and legacy WCE contracts trade on the ICE such as barley and canola. The WCE never was a big market, largely because all Canadian farmers have to sell their wheat to the Canadian Wheat Board who then markets the grain as a single pool.

For those that want some live action shots of the Winnipeg trading pits, this youtube clip has some midway through the newscast: linked here

And believe it or not, someone wrote a lengthy book on Winnipeg grain trading entitled The Exchange: 100 Years of Trading Grain in Winnipeg.

*UPDATE*  In the comment section, Andy, aka winterbos, whose photo was used above, was kind enough to enlighten us more about the Winnipeg Exchange and his comment is worthy of bumping up to the main page:

"It was a big market in the early 20th century. I believed that it rivalled Chicago in some respects for awhile. The Wheat Board monopoly dates only from around World War II. The last three Exchange buildings are still intact and kind of provide a visual history of the trade from the Victorian era through the early 20th century boom to the more corporate-looking late 20th century era.

The 19th century Exchange Building on Princess Street is just a facade now, but nicely kept up

The monumental 1906 Grain Exchange on Lombard Avenue is still a major office building, including for the grain trade. In this picture you can see the tall double-floor windows of the trading floor (visible in the first two interior shots you posted) on the 6th and 7th floors at extreme left. They've been re-divided into two floors again, unfortunately.

Since about 1980, the WCE (now ICE Futures Canada) has been in the Commodity Exchange Tower at Portage & Main. That's what's shown in your last image.

Here's a website about the old Grain Exchange Building: "
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