Grain Elevators of Western Canada

Please click on one of the following links to visit the grain elevators of a particular western province of Canada:

Although this site is about grain elevators of Western Canada, there are two elevators that stands out in my (John’s) home province of Nova Scotia.

Tatamagouche, NS grain elevator
Tatamagouche Grain Elevator Village

The grain elevator stands in the center of the town of Tatamagouche NS.

Halifax grain elevator

Halifax Grain Elevator Limited is located in the heart of Nova Scotia – the Port of Halifax. Serving Canada and the rest of the world, HGEL handles many types of grains and other bulk materials transported via cargo ship, container, truck or rail car and stores them in any of 365 silos.

A brief history of the Grain Elevators of Western Canada

The grain elevators in Western Canada have for years been referred to as prairie icons, prairie cathedrals or prairie sentinels and have become a visual symbol of what farming in this part of the country is all about. There were as many as 5758 in 1933. These grain elevators dominated the prairie landscape for more than a century with every community having at least one.

They were the first step in a grain trading process that moves the grain from producer to worldwide markets. The first grain elevator was a strictly utilitarian building considered by anyone that viewed them to be anything but that.

They were designed for one purpose, getting the grain into railway boxcars. The farmers, who at first shoveled their grain into 2-bushel sacks which they then transported to a loading platform along the rail line. There, they emptied the sacks into a waiting boxcar, a back-breaking and inefficient job. They needed something much better if the west was to grow – a means of storing and shipping grain quickly, This brought about the small, one-storey wood frame warehouses erected by farmers.

The railways demanded larger, vertical warehouses that could take advantage of gravity to empty the grain and a mechanism known as the “leg” was devised, an endless belt with cups or scoops attached, was devised to load the grain in the elevators. This leg is what gave the name to and determined the shape of the grain elevator.

Today many of these grain elevators are being dismantled and removed from the landscape. Railway lines are being abandoned and the railways want them removed for safety reason. Many of the grain elevators shown on this site are no longer in existence. It’s just another sign of progress.

I hope that you enjoy your visit to this site and can appreciate Art Grieve’s work in keeping some of these alive. For a more detailed history of the Grain Elevators please go to the following site: The Canadian Encyclopedia (Grain Elevators).

This site is a collection of Grain Elevators of Western Canada. They were submitted to John MacDonald by Art Grieve, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Art collected these picture during his travels around the area. Many of these elevators are no longer standing. The text on this page was written by John MacDonald.

Please visit the Grain Elevators of Canada site

Leave a comment