Grain elevators once used to be the hub of any small prairie community, but modernization has slowly taken those structures off rural Alberta’s sky line.
Saddened by the loss of these grain elevators, Jim Pearson has been collecting data on these elevators over the years in Alberta and now Saskatchewan. He has written a series of books called Vanishing Sentinels on locations of grain elevators still standing.
In older times, people could make a phone call at the grain elevators and catch up on the latest community news.
“You could go down there and have a cup of coffee with the agents,” said Pearson.
Some grain elevators have been torn down and others have had other problems such as fire. Pearson remembers fondly about one elevator near Drumheller.
“Literally 13 years ago this week…we lost that big elevator in Delia due to a fire,” said Pearson.
Even more recently two elevators were recently torn down in Warner. Alberta Wheat Pool No. 1 and 2 were taken down within days of each other and Pearson drove to Warner to be interviewed by CTV Lethbridge. He feels these elevators have a strong history in their communities and he wants to raise awareness of the issue.
“The last elevator row in Alberta now is gone,” said Pearson on the Warner situation.
Not only are the grain elevators an important piece of a community’s history, they also provide a major tax base for some areas. In some cases, some communities have all but disappeared after the dismantling of their grain elevator.
Pearson says pilots used to use the elevators as landmarks as well. For more information of the Vanishing Sentinels series go to www.vanishingalberta.ca for books, postcards and other updates by Pearson.
He has information on elevators of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan and he is considering a trip to Manitoba.