Ups and Downs
Even before Lee was a partner he was growing the business. In 1920 he set up the first feedlots. In the 1920s the company got some attention one morning when they drove 500 head of cattle through Edmonton and over the high level bridge from south of the city. Business was good but setbacks were looming. In 1928 the Edmonton Stockyards offices burned down. They rebuilt right away. The new two-story building had a concrete basement and a garage for 22 cars. Weiller and Williams Co. Ltd. moved into offices on the main floor, setting up shop for the next several decades.
The depression years were difficult. Henry Weiller and his brother Billy struggled to keep their businesses going. Lee bought and leased land to make ends meet. He recalled: “I didn’t have any money either. I wasn’t clear of debt until I was sixty.” He travelled all over the province looking for livestock to buy and sell, spending many nights sleeping in his Hudson automobile.
“In hard times you just try to keep what you’ve got and when the good times return maybe then you can try to get ahead a bit.” – Lee Williams
Life took another turn when Billy Weiller died. His premature death left Lee and Henry to oversee the business. The two remained partners until Henry’s death in 1956.
“From the time I went into the livestock business, I always had the help and guidance of Mr. Henry Weiller. He helped me not only in business but he was like a father to me and I owe my success in the livestock commission business to him.” – Lee Williams
Image Credits: Stockyards Colleagues with Lee Williams and Henry Weiller – before 1946, Lee Williams and Henry Weiller are second and fourth from the left, Musée Héritage Museum