Although Aaron Shapiro is often credited with being the man who provided the emotional spark needed to arouse interest and enthusiasm in co-operative grain marketing, A.J. McPhail was the source of inspiration, the leader, the diligent worker whose efforts resulted in the wheat pool becoming a reality.
Throughout his relatively short career Mr. McPhail displayed a complete sense of responsibility in his dealings with farmers, governments and business institutions. Accordingly, he exerted a sobering and solidifying influence at a time when emotionalism was rampant. Briefly, he can be described as a sound, practical man possessing a dash of idealism.
Mr. McPhail was a dedicated believer in the principle of co-operative marketing and as such was strongly opposed to the system of futures trading, under which the price farmers receive is largely influenced by the attitude of mind of an uninformed, speculating public.
As a reward for being the motivating force in the formation of the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, he was elected its first president. He also served as president of the Central Selling Agency, vice-president of the provisional board of the Saskatchewan Co-Operative Wheat Producers Limited, and secretary of the Saskatchewan Grain Growers’ Association.