Saskatchewan Grain Elevators
See It Before It’s Gone: the legacy of the Prairie economy
SEVENTY-FIVE YEARS ago, rural Saskatchewan was awash with farmers and their bushels of grain piled high on wagons. Rows of impatient horses were tied up at the livery and the train chugged by every hour. The golden stream of grain pouring into the hopper tank seemingly never stopped. Today, the Bulyea Elevator No. 1, the first in the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, is a solemn reminder of the borrowed time on which these beacons of the Prairie economy exist.
TIME LEFT In the 1930s, the heyday of grain production, Saskatchewan operated 3,300 elevators, one every 11 kilometres. Today, 525 remain, many on the verge of demolition. “They were our kind giants,” one farmer laments, “watching over our towns.” Giant concrete terminals service massive areas now, expediting the end of rural Prairie life.
SEE IT Take the long flat drive along Highway 1 or Highway 16 for a vista of Prairie sentinels en route. The Western Development Museum in North Battleford (306-445-8033) exhibits a “working” 1920s elevator; the tiny village of Edam has converted theirs into a five-storey museum (306-397-5555), as has Hepburn, into the Museum of Wheat (306-947-2170). Indian Head draws tourists with the Craft-Tea Elevator and Restaurant (306-695-3516).
SAVE IT The Country Grain Elevator Historical Society in Montana promotes preservation for all Prairie elevators, while the Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation (306-787-5729) partners with rural communities to fend off the wrecking ball.
This story was originally published in the June 2007 issue of up! magazine as part of the See It Before It’s Gone feature, profiling 14 of Canada’s must-see natural and man-made tourist attractions on the brink of extinction. Enlighten yourself about the other 13 sites not to miss in these WestJet destinations: