Our Purpose

We provide personalized insurance service to meet our members’ needs in the communities we serve.

Our Values

Respect, Honesty, Reliability, Loyalty and Community

Our Vision

A strong, fair and respected company meeting our members’ needs of tomorrow.

Why choose South Easthope Mutual?

Working together for insurance that works – When members do their part to prevent losses, everyone wins. When you have a claim, we are there for you and every member shares in your loss. That’s how mutual insurance works. It’s that simple.

Neighbour helping neighbour

Our country and communities were built on the principle of neighbours helping each other in times of need. We still believe in that today.

Insurance ‘at-cost’

South Easthope Mutual Insurance was founded in 1871 by local farmers and exists today to provide members with insurance ‘at-cost’. This means, the premiums you pay cover our costs – operating the business and paying claims.  We are a financially stable company and when possible, we provide our property members with a premium refund.

Your interests, our priority

As a policyholder member, your interests are our priority. We don’t report to shareholders – only to our members, who take great pride in being our owners. That’s what makes us strong.

We are continuously driven to provide an exceptional level of personalized service to our members. We treat members the way we want to be treated, with fairness and respect. Nothing less is acceptable.

Growing strong communities

Loyalty to the communities we serve is ingrained in our culture. When you get insurance from South Easthope Mutual Insurance you’re supporting your local community. We hire local whenever possible and make company purchases from local businesses first. Our people volunteer and support community organizations, charities and churches.

When we all work together, we all succeed building stronger communities. That’s why we are here for you – today and tomorrow.

South Easthope Mutual Insurance. Working together for insurance that works.

“South Easthope Mutual makes you, our policyholder member, our community and quality results our priority.”

— Frank Rider, President and CEO

The History of South Easthope Mutual

  • Mutual Insurance Started in Canada

    Mutual insurance started in Canada as a grassroots movement driven by citizens. The “Mutual Insurance Act” was passed in 1836. It was the first Act passed in Upper Canada without Crown approval.  The Act permitted one mutual in each of the 6 “districts”. Gore Mutual was founded in 1839 and..Read More

  • John Easthope

    The Townships of South Easthope and North Easthope were named in honour of Sir John Easthope (1784-1865), who served as a director of the Canada Company, the British land company that settled the Huron Tract beginning in 1828. Easthope Township was divided in 1843. John Easthope was a British MP..Read More

  • German Minutes of Oct. 6, 1871 Organizational Meeting

    The Mutual Fire Insurance Company of the Township of South Easthope was organized on October 6, 1871 at the G.H. Kaufmann Hotel in Sebastopol, Ontario. South Easthope Mutual is the 7th oldest farmers’ mutual still in business. The minutes from the meeting that elected the first Board of Directors were written..Read More

  • October 6, 1871 Meeting Minutes in English

    The minutes of the October 6, 1871 organizing meeting were originally written in German. They were translated in the 1940s by Rev. O.T. Stockman, who served as minister of Trinity Lutheran Church in Sebastopol.

  • G.H. Kaufmann Hotel

    The G.H. Kaufmann Hotel in Sebastopol, Ontario, was the location of the organizational meeting of The Mutual Fire Insurance Company of the Township of South Easthope. It took place on October 6, 1871. Proprietor George Henry Kaufmann served as recording secretary for the election of the first Board of Directors,..Read More

  • Robert Reid

    Business was conducted in Tavistock when Robert Reid became Secretary. The Reid family was one of the first five families to settle in Tavistock. Underwriting was expanded from just farm fires to include schools, churches, town residences and businesses.

  • South Easthope Farmers’ Mutual Fire Insurance Company

    In 1886, the company name was changed to South Easthope Farmers’ Mutual Fire Insurance Company according direction set out in the Insurance Act.

  • 1887 Fire Policy

    A 1887 fire policy from South EasthopeFarmers’ Mutual Insurance Company for $2,000 in coverage.

  • W.S. Russell Building

    The company moved to the current location at the corner of Woodstock and Jane Street in 1889, when William S. Russell was appointed Secretary- Treasurer.

  • William S. Russell

    William S. Russell was appointed Secretary-Treasurer. He conducted the insurance business from his shoe shop, serving the company for 42 years. In 1931, the company purchased the W.S. Russell building from his estate. Russell was born in Quebec, one of 13 children. He came to this area at the age..Read More

  • 1890 Insurance Receipt

    The premium for $1,000 of fire coverage only, in 1890 was $30. The receipt was signed by then Secretary-Treasurer W.S. Russell.

  • Board of Directors 1902-1908

    The South Easthope Farmers’ Mutual Fire Insurance Company Board of Directors of 1902 to 1908 at the Mogk farm, on the north side of Hope Street W., now part of Tavistock. The Board of Directors’ Names: John Frazer, Werner Mogk, John Cook, Leonard Schaefer, Werner Yungblut, Albert Goring, Edwin Caister,..Read More

  • Tavistock’s First Volunteer Fire Brigade

    Tavistock’s first volunteer fire brigade was established with 21 men on November 23, 1911, two years after the Village was incorporated. The Village installed 16 water hydrants connected to a 40,000 gallon water tank. The hose reel was purchased in 1912. At the call of fire, the rubber-clad and booted..Read More

  • Legal Precedent Set

    In 1918, a denied claim made the precedent for the insurance principle of “Proximate Cause” in Roth v. South Easthope Farmers’ Mutual Fire Insurance Company. The outcome from this court action continues to be used globally as the legal test for Proximate Cause.

  • First Agents at South Easthope Mutual

    The first agents were appointed at South Easthope Mutual. Previously, the Secretary did this job. In the early days, potential members would present themselves before the entire Board of Directors to make their application for membership.

  • Purchase of 1926 Ford Model T “Chemical” Firetruck

    The purchase of a 1926 Ford Model T “chemical” firetruck was not so much a piece of South Easthope Mutual history, but more the Village of Tavistock’s. (How it came to be a special part of South Easthope Mutual can be found further ahead in time). The Tavistock Village Council..Read More

  • W.S. Russell Building 1931

    In 1931, the company purchased the W.S. Russell building from the former Secretary-Treasurer’s estate. Director Edwin Caister (1894-1931) was appointed the Secretary.

  • F. Marguerite Caistor

    F. Marguerite Caistor started with the company in 1931 to assist her father Edwin Caister when he was appointed Secretary-Treasurer. He had served the company since 1894. Marguerite Caister was appointed Secretary-Treasurer in 1942 and continued until her retirement in 1973 at age 72. Marguerite missed only three days of..Read More

  • First Policyholder Refund

    In 1938, South Easthope was the first farmers’ mutual to issue a policyholder refund, an idea suggested by the Provincial Insurance Inspector as an alternative to reducing rates. We had $93,000 in surplus with $12.5 million in risk.

  • British Aid fund

    In the midst of World War II, the Mutual Fire Underwriters Association of Ontario (of which South Easthope Mutual was a member) created the British Aid Fund, where member companies  would donate three per cent of their surplus to be used for relief of the distress of bomb-stricken farmers or..Read More

  • Hurricane Hazel

    Prompted by Hurricane Hazel in 1954, limited coverage for windstorm was introduced in 1957. The perils of theft and lightning to livestock were also added during this period.

  • Farm Mutual Reinsurance Plan

    South Easthope was among the first companies to establish the Farm Mutual Reinsurance Plan (now called Farm Mutual Re), Canada’s first reinsurance company.

  • Edward Pellow

    Edward Pellow started with the company in 1965, as Manager and Assistant Secretary. He served as Tavistock agent from 1967 to 1969. He was appointed Secretary-Treasurer in 1973 and served until his retirement in 2003. The company underwent many changes and advances during his 38-year tenure. The classes of windstorm..Read More

  • A New Office Building

    The old Russell building was cold, drafty and heated by coal stoves. It was demolished and a new single-storey brick office was built.  This office would serve South Easthope until 2015.

  • South Easthope Mutual’s 100th Anniversary

    1971 marked South Easthope Mutual’s 100th Anniversary. The Board of Directors marked the occasion by extending an invitation to its policyholders to attend a rib and pigtail supper at the Tavistock and District Community Arena on October 5, 1972. There was such a great response, the decision was made to..Read More

  • Fire Mutuals Guarantee Fund

    In 1976, the Fire Mutuals Guarantee Fund was established, making the farmers’ mutual system one of the strongest networks in the world.

  • We Grew

    A two-storey addition was built onto the 1967 office building.

  • Woodstock Agency Office Opens

    Our Woodstock Agency office was opened to better serve our members in that area.

  • 1926 Ford Model T Firetruck Restoration

    A Campbellford, Ontario collector advertised the Village of Tavistock 1926 Ford Model T Firetruck in the Tavistock Gazette. The Board of Directors of South Easthope Mutual decided to purchase the truck. It was returned it to Tavistock for restoration by a team of local craftsmen and tradespeople.

  • The Restored 1926 Ford Model T Firetruck

    The restored 1926 Ford Model T Firetruck was presented to the Tavistock Fire Fighters Association in August of 1990. The truck is still operable and appears in shows and parades. It is maintained by Zehr Automotive in Tavistock. It can now be found on display in the South Easthope Mutual..Read More

  • Name Change

    Our name changed again 1990 to the current South Easthope Mutual Insurance Company.

  • Mitchell Agency Office Opens

    We opened our Mitchell Agency office to provide local service to our members in the area.

  • W.S. Russell Home Acquired

    In 1992, South Easthope Mutual acquired the W.S. Russell home. It stood near the current south entrance to the parking lot. This was part of the Board of Director’s plan to acquire area property to prepare for expansion in the future.

  • Additions Added

    A new showroom to house the 1926 Tavistock Fire truck, additional office space and a file room were added to the 1967 office building.

  • Development of Software

    South Easthope Mutual embraced computer technology in the 1970’s and developed our own software as a tool to manage the company more efficiently. Other mutual insurance companies in Canada shared this need. In 1996, our subsidiary company, “SEH Computer Systems Inc.” was established. Today, it operates independently from the insurance..Read More

  • 125th anniversary

    To celebrate our 125th anniversary, policyholders as well as local residents were invited to Queen’s Park in Tavistock on Saturday June 15, 1996. About 6,000 people attended and many sat down to a complimentary meal served in the arena by staff members and service club volunteers. The theme was ‘Country..Read More

  • Tavistock Paintings by Lance Russwurm

    To celebrate Tavistock’s 150th anniversary in 1998, South Easthope Mutual commissioned these paintings by local artist Lance Russwurm. The compositions depict four historic scenes from the village and an area farm. Proceeds from limited edition prints are donated to Muscular Dystrophy, the charity supported by our local firefighters. Prints can..Read More

  • Policyholders growing

    By 2004, South Easthope Mutual had grown significantly from 1970. We now had over 7,000 policyholders, $14 million in surplus and $2.2 billion in property risk.

  • Listowel Agency Office Opens

    The agency office in Listowel was opened to serve our members of the Listowel area.

  • Herbert’s Alley

    The Board of Directors purchased Herbert’s Alley in Tavistock. With this purchase, the entire property of South Easthope’s head office now encompassed eight parcels.

  • New Office Process Begins

    The South Easthope Mutual Board of Directors invited proposals from three contractors for both an addition to the original 1967 office or a completely new building. The process for our new office had begun.

  • Building for the Future

    In 2014, the construction of a new office building was awarded to Scheidel Construction of Cambridge. Local contractors were to be used whenever possible. The maple trees on our property that could be moved were transplanted to Queen’s Park and Optimist Park in Tavistock. A Butternut tree almost cancelled the..Read More

  • The Butternut Tree Story

    The fireplace mantel and coffee table in our foyer and the wood wall in our showroom were milled from a butternut tree that stood on the grounds of where the new office would be. The property used to be the front lawn of the Matthies house at 76 Woodstock Street..Read More

  • New Office Ground Breaking

    We broke ground for our new office on the coldest day of the year, February 20th using the same shovel from the 1967 ground breaking. The new building was ready for move-in on October 31st.  Habitat for Humanity received some materials from the former building and it was demolished in..Read More

  • New Office Open House

    June 11th was the perfect day for the Grand Opening and Public Open House of the new South Easthope Mutual office building. We hosted over 400 members and visitors from the insurance community as they toured through our new building. We are now set for the future to grow and..Read More

Board of Directors and Officers - 2024

Seated (l to r): Peter Thompson, Glen Blair

Middle Row (l to r): Michael Munro, Lindsay Zehr (Treasurer & CFO), Jennifer Kearsey (President & CEO), David Crane

Back Row (l to r): Kenneth Yeoman, Marianne Cook, Jeffrey Schultz (Chair), Paul Heinbuch, Rachel Stewart (Secretary), Linda Drost

Our Board of Directors are elected from within the membership to govern the company.