Saturday, February 23, 2013

Remembering the Farm: Prairie Elevators - the Sequal

In July last year I blogged about the old wooden grain elevators that dotted the prairie of my youth. My lead was the 1954 Canadian $1 bill, the back of which pictured a gravel road with elevators in the background.

Canadian 1954 $1 bill
To my delight, this morning I got an email with pictures from "Saskatchewan Farmboy" with information about the picture on the dollar.  He sent me some references and I found a couple more.

Hi, I stumbled across your blog about the grain elevators on the back of the 1954 $1. The town is Fleming, SK and that gravel road is actually the #1 highway. One of the elevators was one of the first built in Canada by "Lake of the Woods Milling Company". Up until a couple years ago it was the oldest standing elevator in the country. If I remember correctly, it was built in 1895. My Great, Great Grandfather, Great Grandfather, Grandfather, and Father all hauled grain there. (My family has been here since 1871). Eventually there was a fourth elevator built in the line-up but it was after the photo was used for the back of the $1
Picture from kenoradave (see below)
Picture from Saskatchewan Farmboy

 I'm not sure when Saskatchewan Wheat Pool took it over but they had it before UGG. When United Grain Growers took her over, they used it for fertilizer storage. There's a photo taken of a Super B grain semi unloading in the driveway of this elevator......both ends of the unit were hanging out each side, looked like a giant snake but the old wooden scale was still strong enough to hold about 64,000 kgs!!

Picture from Saskatchewan Farmboy.  Prior to renovation

Picture from Canada's Historic Places (see below)
It was deemed a national historic site in 2008 and the community was in the process of restoring the old girl for tourism (top pictures). With only a few months left to go before she would open for its first visitors, vandals set her on fire and it burnt to the groundThree young men were caught, charged, and convicted for the death of our historic elevator.
Picture from Saskatchewan Farm Boy
A part of our countries history was lost forever that night. It was one of the few that had been saved from the wrecking crews.

Back in the day, the town of Fleming was being considered for the capital of Canada, it was a boom town. A water supply issue and a fire made sure it never would see that glory. Now the population is less than 80 and the only business left is the hotel/bar which my Great Great Grandpa built. 

November 28, 2009, This elevator is one of the last vestiges of the old Lake of the Woods Milling Company. At one time the company flour mill in Keewatin, Ontario was the largest in the world. The flour mill burned in the sixties and that was the end of it. There are still a few of the old mill buildings remaining in Keewatin. No idea why this elevator is still standing. 
March 6, 2011, Seems I managed to grab this shot just in time. The elevator that stood like a monument alongside the TransCanada Highway in Saskatchewan burned down three months after I took the picture. I miss it every time we drive by. With the Lake of the Woods flour mill gone and now this elevator there won't be much evidence left of that part of our history.

More information besides the following paragraph is available at Canada's Historic Places.
Fleming Lake of the Woods Grain Elevator National Historic Site of Canada is a wooden, hipped roof grain elevator, located along the Trans-Canada Highway, five kilometres west of the Manitoba border. It is situated south of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) mainline, between the highway and the community of Fleming, Saskatchewan. This National Historic Site was demolished by fire in February 2010. The formal recognition consists of the grain elevator and a small area of surrounding property.


  1. No such things in Mississippi, but we did have lots of old barns that have since been replaced with prefabricated buildings that lack all aesthetic beauty.

    1. Used to be a great many big hipped roof horse barns on the prairies but they disappeared slow but sure once the horses were gone (mostly after the war). Still enough left to remind us of times past. The new building may not be architectural wonders but they are durable and functional.

  2. Great photos! It made me think of a book you might enjoy - "Gone But Not Forgotten: Tales of the Disappearing Grain Elevators" by Elizabeth McLachlan. Ms. McLachlan travelled across the prairies gathering essays, photos, and reminiscences about prairie grain elevators (my dad, Lloyd Henders, was a contributor). She has pulled them all together into a fascinating narrative. The book is available on Amazon if you're interested:

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