Alberta’s Wooden Country Grain Elevators – Update

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.

Number of elevators in Alberta: Read more

Alberta’s Wooden Country Grain Elevators

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.

Rowley Grain Elevator Row, Provincial Historic Resource

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)
Alberta Pacific Grain Elevator Site Complex, Meeting Creek, Provincial Historic Resource

Additional statistics:

  • 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)
Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator, Paradise Valley, Provincial Historic Resource

For a list of communities in Alberta with designated and non-designated elevators, please click here.

Please Note:

  • 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.

Additional Information:

Written by: Dorothy Field, Heritage Survey Program Coordinator

Pincher Creek Municipal Heritage Survey

At the end of April I attended an open house for the Town of Pincher Creek Municipal Heritage Survey project. Over the past year, the Town, through the dedicated assistance of community volunteers and the guidance of Farley Wuth at the Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village, has been working on documenting up to 300 sites. These sites, all older than the 1940s, include residential, commercial and industrial properties. The sites are being documented through photography and by recording geographical, architectural and historical information. Once complete, all documented sites may be viewed on the Provincial Heritage Survey database.

The open house was attended by project volunteers and interested community members. Their interest in the project was inspiring. With each documented property, the volunteers uncover new facts about their community.  Who lived where, and when? Which properties contain unique architectural features? How did the properties evolve after alterations and repairs? With each discovery, a greater sense of community pride seems to emerge.

Completing a Municipal Heritage Survey is a great way for municipal staff to learn about the older building stock (and other sites) in their communities. The information gathered provides valuable information for things such as:

– public and private research

–   historic walking tours

–   school and museum programs

– municipal decision-making

–   information on historic and existing land uses

–   development patterns

–   tourism opportunities

– assistance in long-term conservation objectives

–   evaluation of potential historic places

–   photographic record to aide future conservation projects

Essentially, a Municipal Heritage Survey is an information gathering exercise, which enables future decisions and projects associated with potential historic places. Properties documented through a survey are not placed under any restrictions.

To learn more about the Pincher Creek Municipal Heritage Survey project, click here.

To learn how the Town of Pincher Creek is completing this project, please visit the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program website.

Written by: Brenda Manweiler, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

What’s New with the Alberta Heritage Survey? (12.01)

There’s been some spring cleaning on the Alberta Heritage Survey website – it’s been tidied up, rearranged and revamped! Check out all the information and new links. You’ll find a description of the Alberta Heritage Survey (AHS) Program, and a link to an electronic version of Photographic Memory , the Provincial Archives of Alberta  exhibit which was previously featured on RETROactive (What’s New with the Alberta Heritage Survey? 11.01). As well, links on the website will take you to pdf versions of documents providing a wealth of information about the heritage survey process, and there are sections with details about HeRMIS, the AHS eForm, and historical walking and driving tour booklets.

This photograph is an example of what may be found on the Alberta Heritage Survey.

HeRMIS, the Heritage Information Management System, provides online access to the database where the Alberta Heritage Survey is stored. You can explore the records of the AHS by querying the database, using the Basic or the Advanced query window. Almost 100,000 records have been entered so far, and more are being added all the time. Images are the latest innovation. A search on the name “Siracky” using the text search field of the Basic Search brings up an interesting selection of buildings in east central Alberta. To explore the records, click on View Details. Once you are in a record you can double click on the images to see larger versions. Click on “Return to Search Results” to go back to the list and access another record.

The eForm is an exciting development that allows data, including images, to be submitted to the Alberta Heritage Survey via the internet. Now, information can be added to the database from anywhere with internet access. This feature is only available on a restricted basis, but you can follow the links to learn how it works.

Over the years, in cooperation with communities and groups across the province, the AHS has produced numerous historical walking and driving tours. Many of these are now out of print, but they are still available through the AHS web page, where pdf versions of 22 tours are available for downloading. As the very first AHS blog post, Spring Forward!  pointed out, a bit of heritage sightseeing is a perfect excuse to get out and enjoy the spring weather.

If you have any comments about the spruced up AHS web page, please contact Dorothy Field.

Written by: Dorothy Field, Heritage Survey Program Coordinator

Alberta’s Wooden Country Grain Elevators

In February one of our Facebook fans asked how many grain elevators still stand on the Alberta horizon. Dorothy Field, our Heritage Survey Program Coordinator has compiled some statistics.

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.

Rowley Grain Elevator Row, Provincial Historic Resource

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)
Alberta Pacific Grain Elevator Site Complex, Meeting Creek, Provincial Historic Resource

Additional statistics:

  • 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)
Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator, Paradise Valley, Provincial Historic Resource

For a list of communities in Alberta with designated and non-designated elevators, please click here.

Please Note:

  • 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.

Additional Information:

Written by: Dorothy Field, Heritage Survey Program Coordinator

What’s New with the Alberta Heritage Survey? (11-02)

In 1989, a computer database was created to store the information collected since the early 1970s by the Heritage Survey Program. Data entry has been ongoing ever since. Over the years, technology has advanced, and the Heritage Survey database software has been updated a number of times. Among the most exciting developments is the ability to store and retrieve images. There are several hundred thousand photographs in the Heritage Survey collection waiting to be uploaded, so it will take a while to catch up! Watch this blog to learn about some of these images as they’re added.

Negative Roll 71-R0001

Scans from this 1971 roll were recently uploaded. Check out the photos of five important buildings on the University of Alberta campus in Edmonton: the Arts Building (HS 53226), Rutherford House, the South Laboratory (HS 9445), the Power Plant, and Old St. Stephen’s College.

Rutherford House, boarded up in 1971. (HS 71-R0001-13)

It is fascinating to see what has changed, forty years on! For instance, in 1971, Rutherford House (HS 22330) was empty and boarded up. Today, it is designated as a Provincial Historic Resource (PHR), has been restored and operates as a Provincial Historic Site. One image of the Power Plant (HS 9441) shows a clear view to Garneau, a residential neighbourhood, one block east. Now, that view is blocked by the five-storey Rutherford North Library, built in 1973, and the Hub Mall, built in 1972. In 1971, Old St. Stephen’s College (HS 29047) still had its cylindrical metal fire escape slides. Its role as the home of the Historic Resources Management Branch was yet in the future, as were the extensive renovations that transformed the building from a student residence into government offices. Today, Old St. Stephen’s
College is a Provincial Historic Resource, and the home of the Heritage Survey Program.

Click the above links to view images on the Heritage Resources Management Information System (HeRMIS) website.

Written by:  Dorothy Field, Historic Survey Program Coordinator

What’s New with the Alberta Heritage Survey? (11.01)

Special Exhibit: Photographic Memory

The Alberta Heritage Survey is a collection of data and photographs documenting over 100,000 historic resources across the province. The database is still growing, and is accessible online via HeRMIS, the Heritage Resources Management Information System: Heritage Survey on HeRMIS. Perhaps the most compelling aspect of the Heritage Survey is the thousands of images that have been taken for it since 1968. This column will feature stories about images that are being added to HeRMIS, and the sites they illustrate, so check back for updates. Meanwhile, you can take in an exhibit that features the Heritage Survey photo collection, Photographic Memory, at the Provincial Archives of Alberta until December 2011. (Click on the image below for more information.)

The PAA is located at 8555 Roper Road, in Edmonton. Map  Driving Directions

Email: paa@gov.ab.ca

Phone: (780) 427-1750  Reading Room Phone: (780) 427-1056  (Toll Free: First dial 310-0000, then dial the full ten-digit phone number of the office you wish to reach.)

Please Note: The Heritage Survey exhibit can be viewed during regular open hours, Tuesday through Friday from 9 am to 4:30 pm, and until 9 pm on Wednesdays. It will be up until the end of January. Please note that the Provincial Archives of Alberta will be closed December 26-28, 2011.

Written by: Dorothy Field, Heritage Survey Program Coordinator