Friday, December 30, 2005

The Remaining Alberta Pacific Grain Elevators

At my last count, Alberta had 249 Alberta Pacific Elevators operating in the province. The company was started in 1900 as the Alberta Grain Company by Nicholas Bawlf and several associates, and by 1911 merged with the Alberta Pacific Co. Ltd. to from the Alberta Pacific Grain Company Limited. (Thanks to Sask Grain Elevators - Inventory based research project (Pedersen, 2000).

The company was taken over by Federal in 1967.

As far as I know, there are only 5 Alberta Pacific elevators still standing in Alberta. Two are in museums, two are abandoned, and one is privately owned.

This Alberta Pacific is located in the hamlet of Dorothy, about 30 km (20 miles) SE of Drumheller on the old Candian Pacific and Canadian National shared line. This shot is from the townsite looking to the south-east.'

Looking at the elevator facing east. Dorothy is located in the Red Deer River valley. These pictures were taken April 3, 2004

Rayley is located about 15 km NE of Cardston, in the south-west part of Alberta. It was on the Canadian Pacific rail line. I am still looking for information on the history of this elevator. (Taken July 16, 2004)

Castor's Alberta Pacific is now part of the towns' museum, which is located about 64 kilometres north of Hanna, or 47 kilometres east of Stettler on the abandoned Canadian Pacific line. (Taken May 3, 2004)

Meeting Creek is located 31 km north of Stettler, and has two elevators, an Alberta Pacific and a modified Alberta Wheat Pool repainted as "Vertical Payne". It was situated on the Canadian National line. (Taken September 29, 2005)

Meeting Creek looking south-west from Highway 56, taken December 12, 2003. Notice the "Vertical Payne" elevator to the left of the Alberta Pacific.

Lousana's elevator is now located on a private farm 6 km east of the town, which is located about 55 km southeast of Red Deer. This one I didn't know anything about until last month, when I found a picture of it on another website. When I was on a trip to Edmonton, I went up thru Lousana, and took this picture! (Taken December 7, 2005)

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Morningside Elevator

This elevator was located in Morningside, a hamlet located about 5 miles north of Lacombe on the main Canadian Pacific Line between Calgary and Edmonton. It was originally an Alberta Wheat Pool, and was later operated by the Morningside Feed Coop. This is the only elevator I have seen that had the elevating leg on the outside of the elevator. Normally, it's located on the inside of the structure. These pictures were taken on April 28, 2004.

This shot is looking to the north.

Looking from the west, showing the exterior grain lifting leg. I don't know if it was added on later, or was part of the original structure.

From the east.

Sadly, this picture was taken on September 19, 2005. I was on my way to a meeting in Leduc, and thought I'd drop by Morningside on the way up. To my shock, the elevator was gone. As far as I know, it was finally torn down in April, 2005.

I don't have any history on this elevator, and it is one I would like to get some information on. If you know anything about it, please let me know!

Carstairs Elevator

These are pictures of the Carstairs elevator, which was still standing when this picture was taken on January 19, 2004.

Here is what it looked like before it was completely destoryed on October 13, 2004. I was heading into Calgary, and stopped to take these shots. Sadly, it was knocked over about 30 minutes after I left.

Welcome to Vanishing Sentinels


My name is Jim A Pearson. I am a graphic artist who has done artwork ranging from Star Trek related starships to military equipment, and my project known as "Vanishing Sentinels" has been showcased in the Calgary Herald and Edmonton Journal.
Here is an article on me from the Valley Times of Drumheller, Alberta from September 30, 2003.

I have been working on this project for the last 3 years. I started after I was doing research trying to find old cemeteries and school locations in my home area of Delia, Alberta. I was in Hanna at the Special Area #2 office, looking at a map of the Area, when I saw a abandoned rail line going north-west from Youngstown to Coronation. After enquiring with the staff, who had no idea there was a rail line there, I started looking into it, and was surprised to find out that there was a Canadian Pacific Rail line which was built as a make work project in 1929, but was torn out in 1931. The tracks were sent way up into the Peace River area for the rail lines up there.

After Delia's big elevator burned to the ground in 2001, and our second last elevator was torn down a year later, I had begun noticing that elevators were disappearing all over the place. So, I decided to do a map of central Alberta showing the past elevator locations, and which rail lines had been abandoned.

Here is one of the original maps, done back in 2003.

From this map, I went on to map out all of Alberta south of Athabasca to the US border, and from Rocky Mountain House to the Saskatchewan Border. This was completed by doing a long long trip thru southern Alberta, from Medicine Hat all the way to the Crowsnest Pass to the tiny hamlet of Del Bonita at the Canada/US border.

Finally this summer, I finished off the map by going way into the north-west into the Peace River country with a friend, and we located as many elevators as we could up there. After we got back, I completed almost everything else by going to Mayerthorpe all the way to Lloydminister in one day (which was one hell of a drive), then south to Paradise Valley, Provost and towns in the East Central part of Alberta.

There are a few areas I have yet to explore, including the area around Grand Centre, Hilda (north of Medicine Hat), the Athasbasca area, and up to the end of the steel at Hines Creek, but I do have almost all of the remaining elevators in the province photographed.

The only ones I am missing are at Boyle (Near Lac La Biche), an abandoned Searle elevator near Duffield (East of Wabamun), Hilda, Inland (located between Vegreville and Ryley), south of Bentley, 2 north of Coronation, and two north of Whitford (near Andrew).

Odds are, there are more out there, but I am hoping anyone who reads this blog maybe able to help me complete this major part of Alberta's agricultural history that has been vanishing before our eyes!

In case you have no idea what a grain elevator is, here is an internal layout of a standard wooden one which used to be seen in almost every town on the Canadian Prairies.

Grain elevators are used to store and transfer grain to rail cars (which were originally made of wood, but now are made of steel), which took the grain to terminals in Vancouver or Prince Rupert, British Columbia, to Thunder Bay Ontario or even to Churchill, Manitoba.

Since the early 1990's, large concrete elevators have been replacing the wooden elevators, and many of the wooden ones have been destroyed out right, or have been bought by local farmers or private companies, or have been abandoned in place.

In the 1933-34 crop year in Alberta, there were 1,755 operating elevators in Alberta. By the 1972-1973 crop year, 1,435 elevators were operating.

By 2005, the number had dropped to a total of 70 operating elevators. The remaining 174 are either operated by private companies, privately owned, are museums, or have been abandoned.

I will be adding pictures of the remaining elevators left in Alberta that I have taken, and more informationabout them in future posts.

The Vanishing Sentinels maps are also for sale. The two maps are on one 44 inch by 34 inch sheet. They show the closure year of the elevators in each elevator town in Alberta, as well as which rail lines have been abandoned, and what elevators and rail lines remain.

If you are interested in obtaining one, please contact me at