History of Best Cooking Pulses
THE STORY OF BEST COOKING PULSES
An army veteran of the Great War, Stephen Heal, with his bride of 1919, Gertrude Jacks, took up residence on a small holding in the lower Fraser Valley. There numerous agricultural ventures were undertaken.
In 1932 Stephen Heal joined forces with Chauncey Eckhert. When an opportunity to produce seed for canning peas was presented by a coastal company, they found themselves launched into the pea business. However, following harvest, the canning company went bankrupt.
Chauncey and Stephen tossed a coin to see who would go east to try and sell the peas. Chauncey won the toss and took the train to Montreal where he managed to sell the pea seed. BCP was born when they decided to continue contracting peas on their own for the eastern Canadian market. Stephen eventually bought out Chauncey’s interest and was joined in business by his three sons: Jack, Ronald and Geoff. By the 1960s BCP had milling operations in all four western Canadian provinces.
Many other people have contributed to BCP’s success over the years. Of special note are Dorothy Bird Smith of Armstrong, BC and Howard Braden of Portage la Prairie, MB. Dorothy began as a book-keeper in June 1943, eventually becoming BCP’s controller and a company shareholder. She retired after 52 years of service. Howard also spent over 50 years with the company, first in Portage then managing the Creston, BC plant until his retirement.
Throughout the 1990s, Geoff Heal with his daughter Annette Heal worked to develop processes and markets for pea fiber and yellow split pea flour. Since Geoff’s death in 2004, daughters Trudy Heal and Margaret Hughes, together with Mike Gallais, have managed BCP, continuing the tradition of developing value-added pulse products for sale around the world.
July 13th, 2011, Geoff Heal was posthumously presented an Industry Appreciation Award by the Canadian Special Crops Association (CSCA). The award is presented annually to an individual who has made a significant commitment to promoting and expanding Canada’s pulse and special crops industry.
In October 2011, The Globe and Mail Report on Small Business identified Best Cooking Pulses as one of ‘Ten food companies that are changing the way we eat’.
In November 2010 and November 2011, Trudy Heal and Margaret Hughes, received ‘Done Deal’ (International Business Category) awards by WEConnect International, a Women’s Business Enterprise certifier.
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