Intercontinental Company, Limited
Intercontinental Company, Limited (IC), a Canadian corporation chartered 19 November 1925, with chief office at Winnipeg, MB, by General Samuel McRoberts, chairman of the board of the Chatham-Phenix National Bank in New York, and Edward Robinette, president of Stroud & Co. of Philadelphia, investment bankers. The purpose of the corporation, as set forth in the minutes of its first meeting, 16 December 1925, was to carry through "a plan for promoting and assisting the emigration to Paraguay, South America, of certain religious sects [Mennonites] now residing on farms in Northwestern Canada [chiefly Manitoba] and recolonizing the farms so vacated by placing new settlers [new Mennonite immigrants from Russia] thereon." The stock of the company consisted of 10,000 shares of common stock owned by McRoberts and Robinette and ultimately 5,000 shares of preferred stock with par value of $100. Additional funds were raised by sale of first-mortgage bonds, called Farm Lien Bonds, to the value of $1,000,000 (?), secured by the land holdings purchased from the emigrating Mennonites of Manitoba. Later (1930) second-mortgage bonds to the value of more than $100,000 were sold to Mennonite and Amish buyers through A. J. Miller, former director of American Mennonite Relief in Russia, with endorsement of Mennonite Central Committee officials. Because of the farming difficulties in 1927 ff., the depression of 1929 ff., and the relative financial failure of the Paraguayan project, the holders of the first-mortgage bonds (chiefly the National Trust Co. of Toronto and Winnipeg, but also the American Corporation Bond and Share Co. of Delaware with $240,000 holdings, the Interprovincial Trading Corporation of Canada with $96,000, and lesser holders) foreclosed the company. As a result the Mennonite second-mortgage bond holders lost all their equity. The foreclosure apparently took place in 1931, since no further records of the Intercontinental Company could be found.
A complicated financial and corporate structure was set up to handle the entire Manitoba-Paraguay operation. The Corporación Paraguaya (CP) was organized at Asuncion in April 1926 to purchase from the Carlos Casado Co., an Argentine corporation, the land in the Chaco needed for resale to the Manitoba Mennonites. The American Continental Co., C. par A., was organized in July 1926 at Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to hold the stock of the Corporación Paraguaya. In 1929 the AC held $763,000 of IC gold bonds, while the CP also held $237,000 of the IC gold bonds, which had been issued to pay the CP for the land purchased from it by the IC for sale to the Manitoba emigrants. When the relative financial failure of the CP became clear, the MCC finally purchased the entire stock of the CP and its assets for $57,000, with a net value to the sellers of less than $25,000. This was done in 1937.
Thus practically the entire assets of McRoberts and Robinette in their Paraguay venture were wiped out. A rather grandiose scheme motivated originally, largely on the part of General McRoberts at least, by a humanitarian concern for the Mennonites (together with, of course, hope for financial gain) failed. But in the course of the 12 years (1925-37) in which it was in operation, the McRoberts-Robinette project made possible the entire Mennonite colonization in Paraguay, both Menno and Fernheim, as well as aiding the new immigrants to Manitoba in securing land for settlement.
The Intercontinental Company purchased a total of 43,998 acres from the Manitoba Mennonite emigrants for an over-all price of $902,900.39, of which approximately $308,000 was paid out in cash, and the rest in Chaco land, 137,920 acres at five dollars per acre. The company sold its Manitoba land in turn to new Mennonite immigrants from Russia on long-term crop payment contracts, and from its Winnipeg office aided the purchasers in many ways with further small loans and advice on crops and farm management. Under the pressure of farm depression conditions the sale contracts were renegotiated to easier terms in order to save the situation.
The records of the IC are deposited in the Archives of the Mennonite Church at Goshen College, Goshen, IN.
See also W. Quiring, "The Canadian Mennonite Immigration into the Paraguayan Chaco." Mennonite Quarterly Review 8 (1934): 32-45.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pp. 43-44. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Bender, Harold S. "Intercontinental Company, Limited." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1955. Web. 24 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/I585.html.
APA style: Bender, Harold S. (1955). Intercontinental Company, Limited. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/I585.html.