Friday, 21 August 2009

I Love Manitoba (15) Grain Elevators

It's the quintessential prairie marker and, for many, is a beautiful sight. There's nothing particularly beautiful about them up close. Dusty, dirty, utilitarian. What has made them such an icon ? They're one of the few things we have created that could stand up to the prairie.

Cars ? An insignificant blot.
Trains ? Not even close.
The elevator, now that stands out.
It marks not only space but, similar to an inukshuk, is testimony that "we've been here". Unlike the inukshuk, however, they won't be around for generations, or even years, to come. In the 1930's there were around 6,000 primary elevators in the West. In just the past decade the number has dwindled dramatically:

Primary Grain Elevators (source)
1999... MB: 218..... SK: 582..... AB: 279 .....Total: 1279
2009... MB:.. 88..... SK: 185..... AB:.. 88. .....Total: ..361

Next time you drive by one of these 'prairie castles', slow down and take it in. It might not be there the next time you pass.
Related Links:
- Some grain elevator 101.
- Grain Elevators.ca has a great photo inventory of elevators.
- The U of S Wheat Pool page has many historic photos.
- The oldest standing elevator in the West is at Fleming, Sask. (near Moosomin).
- Of course, at Inglis, Manitoba there is the Inglis Grain Elevators National Historic Site.


Anonymous said...

new book: "American Colossus: the Grain Elevator 1843 to 1943" (Colossal Books, 2009) http://www.american-colossus.com

corydon18 said...

check out this old story on the inglis elevators


mrchristian said...

Great, I will check these out. Thanks !