What’s in a Colour?

For many years, our Richardson Pioneer elevators have proudly stood out on the Prairie landscape due to their distinctive yellow and orange colour scheme. But it wasn’t always that way.

Our elevators, like most other country grain terminals, were originally painted “CPR Red”. The change in colour scheme came not from marketing studies, focus groups or public relations consultants, but rather from Richardson Pioneer engineer Claude Cruikshank’s vivid imagination…and his wife Pat’s pair of pants.

On the Victoria Day long weekend in 1962, the Cruikshank family was driving through southern Manitoba. Observing elevators along the way, Cruikshank’s wife asked her husband why the drab wooden structures couldn’t have a brighter appearance. When Claude jokingly asked what colour she would suggest to spruce up the elevators, she responded by pointing to the bright hue of her orange pants.

Brooksby1963 after new paint

In 1962, the Pioneer elevator in Brooksby, Saskatchewan was the first to be painted orange and yellow.

Cruikshank liked the idea and consulted with paint manufacturer Sherwin-Williams. Over 40 painted shingles in various tints of orange were delivered to Pioneer. A selection was made and presented to President George Richardson, along with a request to paint one elevator orange and yellow. Richardson agreed and Brooksby, Saskatchewan was chosen as the trial site. Before the first coat of paint could be applied, management decided it should gauge public response if four or five elevators were also painted in the new colour.

It wasn’t long before Cruikshank received a frantic phone call from the work crew at Brooksby believing they had been supplied with the wrong colour of paint. Cruikshank assured them that orange was indeed the directive and Brooksby became the first orange and yellow elevator. Initially, managers were hesitant to accept the new colour scheme; however, customers’ positive responses and news of increased sales and grain handling soon had managers clamouring to have their elevator painted next.

A few strokes of new paint had been a stroke of genius!




The colourful Claude Cruikshank.


*Excerpt from James Richardson & Sons, Limited Celebrating 150 Years anniversary book.

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