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Trail Blazers: Ballad of the Bags

Trail Blazers is a weekly feature in partnership with the Trail Museum and Archives
The “Old Bags.” L-R: Elise Blood, Kathy Johnston, Karen Souter, Vicki Stevenson, Rith Desilets, Joanne Hilton, Sharon-AnnGray and Dorothy Aaserud. Photo: Trail Historical Society

Here’s a fun look at the Silver City past that combines creativity, wit, talent and … fertilizer?

The “Old Bags,” were a Cominco Musical Troupe that started up at a 1967 Cominco Christmas party, when the budding singers established themselves for a “growing” musical career.

These lovely ladies introduced a smash hit, mostly for Trail ears, titled “The Ballad of the Elephant Brand Bags.”

And it only made sense for the ensemble to bedeck themselves with fertilizer sacks, stamped with the iconic elephant logo á la Cominco.

“They were all Cominco employees or wives of employees and had a small tour with their hit single to the various Cominco operation events and get-togethers,” explains archivist Addison Oberg, Trail Museum and Archives.

Sung to the tune of “Snoopy versus the Red Baron,” for anyone curious of the lyrics, fear not, Oberg has included them here:

“In the olden days when the horse was king/Around the farm, he did everything;

He plowed the fields and he cut the hay/And he fertilized the soil in a private way;

The rate of application was pretty darn small/And doublin’ the horses didn’t help at all;

Along came Cominco with its pellets galore/Free flowing, water soluble and gran-u-lar!


It’s great for everything from barley to hay/When you throw a handful, jump out of the way;

Every farmer has a ton or two on hand/They’re all completely sold on Elephant Brand;

In Regina, Calgary, Kimberley and Trail/They make all the stuff McBeath has for sale;

The covered hopper cars all over the place/Are pushing us bags right out of the race;


Bulk or bags, Cominco doesn’t care/We want all the business everywhere;

Tommy and Ralph can stand up and cheer/While the competition go cry into their beer;


It’s Centennial Year throughout this land/We grow larger and faster ‘cause of Elephant Brand;

We fertilize the valleys and the prairies too/Better watch out or we’ll fertilize you;


Ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty and more/Grigg’s bulk stations are nearin’ three score;

As the trend continues as surely it must/There’ll be fewer and fewer old bags like us!”

-This story was featured in the fall 1968 issue of Cominco Magazine.

Sheri Regnier

About the Author: Sheri Regnier

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