On September 23, 1874 a public notice appears in the Grand River Sachem to the freeholders of the township of Oneida “meeting will be held in the Oneida Town Hall on Saturday the 17th of October at 2:00 p.m. for the purpose of taking into consideration the propriety or organizing a Mutual Fire Insurance Company for the Township”. Over the next two months 94 subscribers were signed up with a total insurance in force of $107,000. Following this, in compliance with the Statutes of the Province, more public notices and meetings followed. Then, on February 4, 1875 the Oneida Farmers’ Mutual Fire Insurance Company was born. From the Agricultural and Fair Societies in Seneca Township who held their activities at York, there came the beginning and the organization of the Grand River Farmers’ Mutual Fire Insurance Company, which culminated in the obtaining of their charter on April 15, 1875.
In the photos: Photo of Frederick Alexander Nelles; a photo of an orginial Fire Insurance Policy; fashions of the time
On the banks of the Grand River
In 1883 at the Annual Meeting, a motion carried to limit the amount of insurance on any man’s property on any one lot to an amount not exceeding $2,000 with the option of insuring the balance with another company. Remuneration for Directors was nothing for several years although the first President received $10.00 for all his efforts in organizing and running the company. A motion appeared yearly to pay the Directors $1.00 per day whenever their services were required. Motion defeated until in 1884 it was finally carried. Another motion to pay mileage at 8 cents per mile was defeated. The Secretary worked for $75.00 per year. Oneida Farmers’ Mutual Fire Insurance Company as of 31st December 1882 President - David Kett Secretary – John Senn Assets -$8,141.52; Policies in force – 305, Expenses of Management - $62.04, Amount paid for losses - $11.00.
In the photos: Orginial receipts from Oneida and Grand River Mutuals.
Meeting needs of the Community
Annual Report of the Oneida Farmers’ Mutual Fire Insurance Company for the year 1898 recorded receipts of $309.86, number of policies in force 323, amount of insurance in force $508,495.00. H. Fearman received $26.67 for a cow struck by lightning. It was the only claim paid for the year.
In the photos: Policy samples of the time
Into the 20th Century
Ruthven was a property insured by the company until it was designated as a National Historic Site. It’s located just outside of Cayuga on Highway # 54. Pictured here are two ladies enjoying the grounds.
In the photos: Ruthven grounds 1900
In 1918 the Ontario Farm Underwriters Association reported 236 losses by fire as follows: General carelessness - 66 Matches - 32 Smoking - 23 Indifference (high insurance) - 18 Hot ashes - 14 Coal Oil - 12 Carelessness with gasoline - 14 Ignorance - 9 Lightning - 25 Steam engines present problems early in the Company’s history with laws requiring engines to be placed at least 30 feet from buildings and operators to be licensed by the Company and bound over to abide by definite fire prevention precautions. It was also agreed not to insure any building closer than 40 feet from any railway track. By 1919 policy changes were necessary with the advent of gasoline engines and the storage of gasoline. A motion was passed to allow a building used for storage of gasoline to be insured. Another motion was declared saying that not more than 50 gallons of coal oil could be stored in any building.
In the photos: Life and times in 1910
Prior to 1925 no premiums were collected. The insured simply signed a premium note at 3% of the total insured value and paid the agent one dollar for his trouble. After 1925 the Department of Insurance required that mutual insurance companies collect a premium when writing an insurance policy, thus having a reserve to pay losses and expenses and hopefully build a small surplus in case of serious fire loss.
In the photos: Deposit slip and ledgers in the 1920's
On September 22, 1930 the Grand River Mutual Fire Insurance Company suffered a major loss when the Kohler barn on the edge of Cayuga was destroyed by fire. Director Adjusters Robert Allan and Robin Kerr viewed the ashes and drove to Caledonia to the office of the Secretary-Treasurer. He could not be found. Subsequent investigation revealed the company bank accounts had been reduced to zero. Statement at the annual meeting held February 27, 1931 altered to read, “Cash at Head Office” be changed to “Cash in Former Secretary’s hands”. The claim was paid and J. Edward Stubbs was appointed as the new secretary. He was bonded for $10,000.
In the photos: Looking west on Highway 3
Honesty and Integrity
One winter a claim was received for cattle that had fallen through the ice on a pond and drowned. The local Director/Adjuster had a connection with the fire department and on their next practice day they pumped out the pond. Claim denied.
In the photos: Lest We Forget
From the 1953 Annual Statement of the Grand River Farmers’ Mutual Fire Insurance Company….“Fyr Fyter Model “A” Fire Extinguishers are being sold by the Company to members at $7.00 each. These can be obtained for both tractor and buildings. Remember, one of these fire extinguishers is necessary if operating your tractor, truck or buck rake for hauling farm produce or fertilizer in to or out of your barns”. Director Robin Kerr served on the Mutual Fire Underwriter’s Board of Directors.
In the photos: Board of Directors 1951
Our Heritage Defines Us
In 1962 the company joined the Farm Mutual Reinsurance Plan Inc which was operated and financed by the 60 Farm Mutual Insurance Companies in Ontario. This reinsurance plan precludes almost completely the possibility of ever having to draw on the premium note. In January of 1966, Grace Hedley replaced Norah Douglas as Secretary-Treasurer of the Grand River Mutual Fire Insurance Company. Meetings were held in her home in Cayuga and annual meetings were held in York. Mr. Knud Wodskou provided dedicated services as the Secretary of Oneida Farmers’ Mutual Insurance Company for over 39 years until his death in 1967. Subsequently Harold Cruickshank was appointed and served in that capacity until the amalgamation in 1970.
In the photos: Knud Wodkou, Oneida Secretary 1928 - 1967
Amalgamation and 100 years of service
Notice of a Special General Meeting of the Members of Grand River Mutual Fire Insurance Company to be held at the Seneca Municipal Building, York, Ontario on the 31st day of January, 1970 at one o’clock p.m. for the following purposes: “To consider and if thought advisable to confirm a Special Resolution passed by the Directors on the 19th day of January, 1970 which provides for the amalgamation of Grand River Mutual Fire Insurance Company and Oneida Farmers’ Mutual Insurance Company as one company under the name of Cayuga Mutual Fire Insurance Company”. On May 1, 1970 Grand River and Oneida became Cayuga Mutual Fire Insurance Company with Grace Hedley appointed as Secretary-Treasurer. The first meeting under the new company name was held in Cayuga on May 10, 1970 with the first order of business being the election of a President for the remainder of the year. Nominations were by ballot and John Hyslop (Grand River) was declared President, Lorne James (Oneida) served as Vice President. Gross Written Premiums – $195,004, Surplus – $374,246. 100th Anniversary (1875 – 1975) was celebrated with a “Century Supper” at the Caledonia Arena on May 31st, 1970 with 1,125 policyholders in attendance. “It is the feeling of your Board of Directors that such a celebration would not be complete without the participation of the policyholder”. Delegates at the Ontario Mutual Insurance Association President & Manager’s Meeting held in Kingston, Ontario in the fall of 1976 unanimously approved a one million dollar trust fund to protect the mutual policyholders from financial loss by a member company. The Fire Mutual Guarantee Fund replaced the premium note. The Official Opening of the New Office Facilities of the Cayuga Mutual Fire Insurance Company were held on December 1st, 1979.
In the photos: Board of Directors 1975
Automobile Insurance was added to the products written in 1981. Bruce McBlain served as Chairman of the Ontario Mutual Insurance Association. He welcomed 1,050 delegates to the 101st annual convention held in Toronto in March 1983 with his theme “We’ve only just begun”. A tea was held to honor Grace Hedley’s contributions on her retirement in 1983. Marion Duff served as manager until November 4, 1988, during that time the Board of Directors authorized the purchase of the Hewlett Packard 250 computer system at a cost of $300,000. Kathryn Adie was appointed as Secretary Manager on January 1, 1989. Gross Written Premium - $1,229,965, Surplus $ $4,206,855.
In the photos: Executive and Staff 1985
The Ontario Mutual Insurance Association encouraged all members to recognize their anniversary by doing something beneficial to the environment. The Cayuga Mutual Board of Directors responded by planting a blue spruce at the new McKinnon Park High School in Caledonia. Financial results were such that refunds from surplus continued to be declared by the Board of Directors throughout the decade. The first staff adjuster was hired in 1993, a move that was well received by the board, staff and policyholders. The company was accumulating property surrounding the office building with future expansion in mind. Landscaping on this property was recognized by the 1996 International Plowing Match committee with the award for best commercial property. The association required all members to establish the ability to send and receive correspondence via email. Gross Written Premiums as of December 31st, 1999 $1,945,21 surplus $8,791,400.
In the photos: Celebratory tree planting ceremony
A New Era
The Board of Directors celebrated the 125th anniversary by declaring a policyholder refund of 33% at the annual meeting. Letters patent were filed and approval was received to change the company name to Cayuga Mutual Insurance Company. Strategic Planning became an annual event for the Board of Directors. The mission statement was developed and adopted , “Our Mission is to provide the best possible insurance products and services. We are a community based, financially stable company providing our policyholders with peace of mind since 1875”. The company continued to experience growth in both premium and staff requiring the need to consider a building expansion. Allan Hedley was appointed as Chairman of the building committee, other members included Bruce McBlain, Bill Horvath, Charlie Snyder and Kathryn Adie. After careful consideration a decision was made by the board of directors to proceed with the construction of a new building directly adjacent to the existing office. Schiedel Construction was engaged to complete the project with the ground breaking ceremony on July 17, 2003.
In the photos: 125th celebration
General Manager Kathryn Adie elected as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Farm Mutual Reinsurance Plan Inc. at the annual meeting held in Toronto, on March 2004. Seven Hundred and fifty policyholders, special guests and friends attended the Grand Opening of the New Cayuga Mutual Building on August 20th, 2004. It is a two story Georgian style facility situated on the banks of the Grand River and remains a proud asset for the company, the village of Cayuga and Haldimand County. The cost of the building was paid in full upon completion of construction and equals the amount of refunds returned to the policyholder owners of the company during the years prior to the construction. In March 2005 Bill Horvath was elected as Chairman of the Ontario Mutual Insurance Association at their annual meeting in Toronto.
In the photos: Photos of our new office and Board of Directors
Peace of Mind Since 1875
Steve Quinn returned to the company in February 2008 as Assistant Manager. His responsibilities include the agents and loss prevention. At the same time Irene Huitema was promoted to Underwriting Manager. Together, with Kathryn Adie, the GM they form the Management Team. Gross Written Premiums as of December 31, 2008 - $ 5,619,315. – Surplus $10,717,610
In the photos: Cayuga Mutual today