Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Sanford, Manitoba's grain elevator disappears

© 2019, Christian Cassidy

Sad news that Sanford's grain elevator was demolished over the weekend, (also see.) I had photographed it and began researching its history as one of a trio of buildings for my next southern Manitoba Real Estate News column. This gives it a new wrinkle.

I'll jump the gun and share the information I found now.

Sanford, Manitoba, then called Mandan, got its first grain elevator in 1902. It was constructed by the private Canadian Elevator Company alongside the new CNR track. A note in the local paper in December 1902 said that the elevator was welcome: "but owing to their tactics at offering 5 to 7 cents below track price, they got little wheat". (The proximity to Winnipeg, just 20 minutes away, may have provided better alternatives to selling locally.)

The provincial government took over the elevator in 1910 and soon leased it to United Grain Growers, who bought it out in 1926. Two years later, it was sold to the Sanford Cooperative Elevator Association and became a Manitoba Pool elevator. The Pool tore it down and built a new structure that same year.

(Image: Sanford grain elevator and train station ca. 1915 from Sanford-Ferndale.)

The new Manitoba Pool elevator went into service in 1929. It cost $25,000 and had a capacity of 70,000 bushels of grain, which later increased due to the addition of an annex.

In the late afternoon of September 22, 1948, a fire started in the elevator's cupola and within minutes the structure was engulfed. Fire departments from Carman and Winnipeg were called in to assist the local volunteer fire brigade to prevent the fire from spreading to nearby oil tanks from destroying the town.

The wind was on their side and the town was saved.

Originally reported to have caused around $160,000 in damage, when its contents of 98,000 bushels, (56,000 of that was wheat, the rest was oats, flax and barley), were added the estimated loss was closer to $300,000 according to R. H. Preston, the elevator's buyer.

(Image: Winnipeg Free Press, September 23, 1948)

Not long after the fire, the Elevator Association began construction on a new one. Work was well underway in December 1948 with workers wintering in a nearby bunk house and kitchen building.

One of the association's directors, W. J. Parker, went on to become the president of Manitoba Pool and a director on the board of the CBC.

The new Pool elevator was in operation in early 1949. In 1998, it was rebranded Agricore after Manitoba Pool's merger with Alberta Pool. The 3,180 tonne capacity structure was last used in the 2000 – 2001 crop season, then was sold off for private grain storage.  

It was demolished on January 14, 2019.

More Sanford Elevator History: Manitoba Historical Society
More Sanford History: Sanford-Ferndale, 1871 - 1987
More Manitoba Pool history: McKee Archives - Manitoba Pool Elevator Fonds

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