This post was originally published on RETROactive on March 6th, 2012 and again on August 26, 2015. Interest in grain elevators remains strong, so a revisit seems in order. Some additional data has been added, an updated list of communities with elevators can be accessed below, as well as a variety of resources and documents relating to Alberta’s Grain elevators.
The twentieth century saw the rise and fall—literally—of the wooden country grain elevator in Alberta. As rail lines spread across the province in the early 1900s, grain elevators sprouted like mushrooms after a spring rain. The height of wooden country grain elevators was reached in 1934. New ones continued to be added until the 1990s, but with increasing numbers being demolished, these icons of the prairie became scarcer. Today, the remaining wooden country grain elevators number only about six percent of the maximum reached in the 1930s. Check out the following “index” of Alberta’s wooden country grain elevators, called “elevators” for short in this article.
Grain elevators, Altario.
Stavely grain elevators, 1920 (Image: Provincial Archives of Alberta, P659).
Have you ever heard of the Nite’n Day Café in Edmonton, formerly located at 118 Avenue and 80 Street? We recently had an inquiry on our Facebook page about the café through our Ask an Expert feature. The call was put out to our experts and, while no one had heard of it before, they did dig up some information! Read more →
October is Women’s History Month in Canada, when we celebrate the achievements of women throughout our past and use their stories to inspire Canadians today. The twentieth century saw women entering occupations previously the exclusive domain of men. A variety of circumstances combined to allow these advances, including the rise of public education, social activism culminating in universal suffrage, legal challenges that established women as “persons” and the upheaval created by two world wars. These changes are not sufficient to explain the careers of the three women described in this blog; it took determination, persistence, courage and intelligence for them to succeed and carve a place for themselves as professional women in these fields that were predominantly, if not exclusively, the preserve of men.
This post was originally published on RETROactive on March 6th, 2012. Farmers across the province will soon be busy with harvest so we thought it appropriate to highlight a previous post associated with Alberta’s agricultural past. Please note that these statistics are from 2012.
The twentieth century saw the rise and fall – literally – of the wooden country grain elevator in Alberta. As rail lines spread across the province, grain elevators sprouted like mushrooms after a spring rain. The high water mark for wooden country grain elevators was in 1934. New elevators were added in every decade, but this has been exceeded by the rate of demolition or closure ever since. Check out the following “index” of Alberta’s wooden country elevators, called “elevators” for short in this list.
Number of elevators in Alberta:
in 1934: 1,781
in 1951: 1,651
in 1982: 979
in 1997: 327
in 2005: 156
in 2012 on railway rights-of-way: 130
Number of communities with:
at least one elevator: 95
2 or more elevators: 26
3 or more elevators: 7
4 or more elevators: 1 (Warner)
Number of elevators in Alberta’s longest row: 6
Oldest remaining elevator: 1905 (Raley)
Number of remaining elevators that pre-date 1910: 3 (Raley, St. Albert, De Winton)
Newest remaining elevator: 1988 (Woodgrove)
Decade with the largest number of surviving elevators: 1920s (33)
Decade with the second largest number of surviving elevators: 1980s (26)
Decade with the fewest (after pre-1910) number of surviving elevators: 1940s (5)
Number of elevators that have been designated a Provincial Historic Resource (PHR): 13
Number of communities with at least one elevator designated as a PHR: 10
Oldest designated elevator: 1906 (St. Albert)
Newest designated elevator: Leduc (1978)
For a list of communities in Alberta with designated and non-designated elevators, please click here.
Grain elevators that have been moved off railway rights-of-way – to a farmyard or a museum, for instance – are not included in these statistics.
Grain elevators located on railway rights-of-way where the rails have been torn up are included in these statistics.
Concrete or steel elevators are not included.
Elevators used for other purposes, such as seed cleaning or fertilizer storage, are not included.
Most of these elevators were last documented by the Heritage Survey in 2005. It is possible that some of the elevators on the list are now gone.
The August long weekend is fast approaching. Before we know it Heritage Day – Monday, August 4 – will be upon us. If you are wondering what to do with your day off, why not consider a heritage-themed outing? This is the perfect time of year to explore Alberta’s rural historic resources.
If you are in the Edmonton area, an ideal destination for a heritage day trip is the Victoria Settlement Provincial Historic Site, located one hour and forty minutes northeast of the city. It is a perfect location for a picnic, and there’s plenty to see there. Before you head out of town, make sure you download or print out the Victoria Trail Historical Walking and Driving Tours booklet that is available on the Alberta Culture website. It contains information about the buildings at the settlement, and, once you’ve finished exploring the historic site, you can follow the tour back towards Edmonton along the historic Victoria Trail.
There are two Provincial Historic Resources at the Victoria Settlement Historic Site: Fort Victoria, a Hudson’s Bay Company building dating from the 1860s, and the 1882 Free Trader’s Cabin on River Lot #3. In addition, you can see the Reverend McDougall Graves, where four of the missionary’s family members – victims of an epidemic of smallpox in the 1870s – are buried. A 1906 Methodist Church on the site recalls the important role of the church in the settlement of the area.
The Victoria Trail is a scenic drive that winds along the bank of the North Saskatchewan River. Unlike many other historic routes, it has remained largely undeveloped and evocative of days gone by. As you traverse the Victoria Trail, it is easy to imagine yourself in the company of those who came before. After 1860, convoys of Red River carts carrying supplies to Edmonton wore ruts into the sod. In 1874, the first North-West Mounted Police contingent famously trekked west along the trail. After the turn of the century, traffic flowed the other way, with Ukrainian settlers coming east from Edmonton to settle on the land. Until the coming of the railway in 1918, the Victoria Trail remained the most important overland route linking Edmonton the Victoria Settlement.
This Heritage Day, treat yourself to a journey back in time, along the Victoria Trail.
Written by: Dorothy Field, Coordinator, Heritage Survey Program
Markerville Tour Booklet Re-vamped and Re-launched!
The Stephan G. Stephansson Icelandic Society has just published a 3rd edition of the Markerville tour booklet. Re-named Icelandic Settlement: Markerville and District Historical Tour, the revised and re-designed booklet is packed with information and historic photographs.
Starting in the late 19th century, settlers of Icelandic descent arrived and started building a community on the banks of the Medicine River. The hamlet of Markerville never grew to any great size, but it was a vibrant community with several businesses as well as a church and hall. The Icelandic heritage of the early settlers gave Markerville a distinctive character.
Markerville is located southwest of Red Deer, at the centre of Alberta’s historic Icelandic settlement area. This part of the province is not only scenic, it has a wealth of historic interest as well.
The tour booklet provides background information, and a route map to guide you through the tour.
Alberta Culture assisted the Stephan G. Stephansson Icelandic Society in revising the tour booklet; the society also received funding from the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation to assist with the cost of its publication. Copies of the booklet are available from the Society at the Markerville Creamery Historic Site in Markerville.
Written by: Dorothy Field, Heritage Survey Program Coordinator
From May 29 through June 1 delegates from across the country (and a few from the United States and Europe) were treated to presentations, discussions and tours addressing a variety of aspects of Canadian architectural history. The conference kick-off was hosted at Edmonton’s city hall, and featured a talk and tour by the building’s architect, Gene Dub. Not surprisingly, he had many interesting anecdotes and insights to relate—including the memorable connection between the building and the Edmonton Sun newspaper’s 3rd page Sunshine Girls!
Three full days of events followed. There were 10 session featuring over 40 speakers. To fit them all in, there were always two sessions on the go. How to choose? Would you rather learn about how cities are transformed by renewal, or what trends are influencing how architecture is taught in Canada? Are you more interested in the future of historic churches, or the place of Arthur Erickson in Canada’s architectural history? Those interested in a lively Pecha Kucha format discussion of the role of government programs in the conservation and commemoration of the built environment had to forego a panel discussion entitled “Architecture and the Canadian Fabric.” For students and professionals in the architectural history field, these are difficult decisions!
Of course, delegates also found time to socialize, make connections and catch up on all the latest work being done in the field. No conference is complete without receptions and a night on the town! The grand finale of the conference was an all-day bus tour of historic buildings and communities in central Alberta. The day was bright and sunny as the bus set off from Edmonton. First stop was the 1907 Wetaskiwin Court House, which was converted to serve as the city hall in 2006. Next on the route was Lacombe, where Roland Michener House and the Flat Iron Building are just two of the Provincial Historic Resources the delegates visited in the city’s historic main street area. After an excellent lunch, the group continued on to Stettler and boarded the Alberta Prairie Railway Excursion’s train for Big Valley.
The final stop on the tour was Rowley, where the spectacular Rowley Grain Elevator Row symbolizes Alberta’s agricultural heritage. After a barbeque, a wander around town, and musical entertainment by Robin Woywitka and the Super 92, it was back on the bus and heading for home. The on-board movie was “Bye Bye Blues.” Watch it if you get a chance—it was filmed on location in Rowley! By the time the bus dropped us off in Edmonton, it was after midnight. Some went directly to their Whyte Avenue hotel, but on Whyte the night was just getting started, so doubtless others continued their Alberta adventures into the wee small hours!
I’d like to thank the people and organizations who contributed to the success of the SSAC 2013 Edmonton conference. It’s impossible to name them all, but special thanks go out to: