Grain Elevator Museum and Tours
The Grain Elevator was saved from demolition in 1995. This is the last wooden grain elevator to be seen standing along the Highway 16A as you travel west. At one time, more than 6000 elevators proudly stood along the railway tracks of communities across the Canadian prairies. Of the 1800 that once defined the Alberta skyline, less than 240 remain today. This elevator serves as a testament to the strong agricultural heritage of the province and as a reminder of the economic base which still serves Albertans and Canadians.
Alberta has a proud Agricultural past, and continues to have a strong agricultural foundation. It ranks 2nd in terms of Canada’s agricultural producer. While the number of farm families has decreased in the past decade, the products produced by the farmer continue to strengthen our economy. Did you know that nearly 52 million acres of land in Alberta are used for crop and livestock production; growing just over 1/3 of Canada’s major field crops. Next time you take a drive and notice the bright yellow field of canola, or the herds of cows grazing along the highway, think about the abundance in which we live.
Comments made by many people touring the elevator are coloured with a longing for simpler days. Often, people will reminisce about their childhood, recalling the elevator as a place they went with dad or grandpa to deliver grain, or as a landmark representing home. Pilots of small aircraft have visited the elevator as well, and chuckle when mention is made of the lettering on the side of the building, identifying the community. They recall that in bad weather, flying low to view the elevator was one way they knew where they were – the lettering was big enough to be read from a distance!
The construction of elevators led to the growth of services and ultimately to the growth of communities around the grain elevators.The Spruce Grove elevator is 96 feet tall, and has 27 grain bins. It originally stood with two other elevators on the site; a strong sign of the success of grain growers in this area. When the wooden elevators were demolished, Spruce Grove was already well established and did not suffer from the loss. This was not true of some of the smaller, less fortunate communities that are now only a signpost on a highway, mentioning that 'once here, stood the community of ...' Alberta's roots are deeply entrenched in Agriculture, and we can be proud of that.
In a society where progress often means tearing down the old to make way for the new, it is refreshing to find some communities are actually committed to preserving the past. Spruce Grove Agricultural Society has been tirelessly serving the community for 40 years, and in doing so, has been drawing attention to the incredible contribution of the farmer to our daily lives.
A visit to this elevator is not only a visit to the past, but also a valuable lesson for the next generation about preserving our past to protect our future.
Three Elevators, 1965
Brox Elevator c.1902
View from the top, 1917
View from the Top, 2008
How a Grain Elevator WorksThis documentary short is a visual portrait of “Prairie Sentinels,” the vertical grain elevators that once dotted the Canadian Prairies. Surveying an old diesel elevator’s day-to-day operations, this film is a simple, honest vignette on the distinctive wooden structures that would eventually become a symbol of the Prairie provinces.