Friday, December 21, 2007

Enjoy the holidays

At this time of year I wish all the very merriest of the Christmas season and a wonderful New Year!
May grain elevators brighten your path during the coming year.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Young Saskatchewan

I purposefully left the apostrophe out of the title to make a sentence out of the name of the place where this elevator photo was taken. It was near sunset and the sun was reflecting off the metal siding of the elevator closest to the camera. Again, using photoshop, I changed the original to cast a different light on the elevator, so to speak. Perhaps it makes the elevator look old rather than young. (Pun fully intended.)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Elevator "art"

Sometimes there is hidden beauty in things old. With Photoshop colours can be highlighted using various filters to make the ordinary look, well, not so ordinary. Here's my photo of Tessier that I've brightened up to show off its innate beauty.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

More of barns

My brother-in-law and my sister live on a farm in Saskatchewan which still has the original wooden windmill. The windmill was used to draw water from a well to provide water for the livestock on the early farms in Saskatchewan. Not many wooden windmills are still standing, so this is a rare sight. Unfortunately, like the wooden grain elevators they are being taken down never to be seen again.
The one-horse buggy is also a rare sight these days. I'm old enough to remember going to school in a buggy. This buggy is a fancier one than we had as it has a cover to protect the occupants from the rain.
The hip-roofed barn was a common structure for the early settlers. Hay could be stored on the second floor and easily dropped down as needed for feed.
The mixed farm provided the farm families with enough food to live on, and they could sell milk and grain to make a living. Of course, in keeping with the theme of this blog, the grain would be hauled to the local elevator for grading and shipping.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Saskatchewan turned 100 in 2005

I realize that's old news, but after I gathered 100 Saskatchewan grain elevator photos I made up a "slideshow-movie" and put it on YouTube. Since Saskatchewan (and Alberta) just celebrated their centennial two years ago, I thought the number 100 was an appropriate way of representing that milestone in our "European" history of the Canadian west.
If you would like to see it go here.
The slides go by rather quickly but I wanted to give the impression of quantity and a sense of their fading glory. I dedicated the slideshow to the many farmers and elevator agents, along with their families, who work so tirelessly so that we can eat.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Round Barns

The hip-roofed barn is probably the most common sight on the prairies, but the round barns also were built. If you click on the title you'll be directed to a web site that has many photos of round barns in North America. I don't see the one that I'm showing here, so it must be rare. It's located west of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
Farmers built barns to keep their livestock warm and dry, especially in winter. The hayloft (upper storey) was used to store the hay which could be lowered to the ground floor as needed during the long cold winter months.
I really don't know the advantage of round barns. Perhaps someone has researched the rationale for building round barns. All I know is they are more difficult to build and make a great photo.
Farmers grew crops not just to sell but also to feed and bed their livestock. The grain elevator was a common storage place for their "exported" grain and their barns were the storage places for the feed for their animals. Different architecture for different purposes--perhaps these also should be candidates for the wonders of North America.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Tessier, SK

Seeing the same grain elevators again allows for a different viewpoint. I hadn't noticed the older farm buildings the last time I took photos of this elevator. I believe that by including them in the photo of the elevator it adds to the character of the setting and creates a context that better reflects the aging of a prairie icon.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Last Spike

The completion of the railway across Canada meant that the farmer's grain could be transported to the west coast and shipped overseas. This was a great boon to the prairie grain farmers, although the Crow's Nest pass was so expensive to build that the government levied a fee on all grain transported through the mountains.
Today there stands a special commemorative marker where the last spike was driven to mark the completion of the railroad. (Click on the heading for more details.)
It's a little known secret that the location of the last spike in Craigellachie, BC contains more than the marker and gift shop. For a privileged few, it's possible to go back in time and stand where Smith stood, grab the hammer and pound on the last spike, while at the same time, having your picture taken. We happened to time it right when we drove through there this month. For a fee, which I'm not allowed to divulge, I entered the time machine and was transported back to the very moment when Donald A. Smith was posing with the hammer over the last spike. For those of you who've gone back in time, you realize how important it is not to mess with the moment, or the future could turn out quite differently. So, with modern technology transferred to 1885, the moment was frozen and I was able to walk into the scene, replace Smith, grab the hammer and wait till the camera clicked. Then I was transported back to the Gift Shop. It all happened so quickly that I assume the people back then didn't know the better.
It's an experience I'll never forget. Luckily, a photo of me in Smith's place was transported back with me. I'm sharing it with you knowing I can trust you to keep this a secret.
Okay, I do have one confession to make. I didn't really hit the "last spike". I just pretended to. It makes for a better photo op.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Kinley, SK

One of my favourite scenes in Saskatchewan is the combination of telephone lines and grain elevators. This photo taken of the Kinley elevator depicts this view nicely.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Did you know that the great hockey legend, Gordie Howe, was born in Floral, Saskatchewan? Floral used to be a hamlet just east of Saskatoon. As Saskatoon grew, Floral slowly disappeared. I'm surprised there's not a marker to show where Gordie Howe was born. It would make a great tourist draw, don't you think?
Now even the lone elevator that survived over the years has disappeared. Here's a photo of the elevator at Floral that stood until 2003.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Chaplin, SK

When I was taking photos of elevators I tried to find different situations to make the photos more interesting and contextual. Most of the time nothing was going on at or near the elevators. This past fall was during harvest season, so this photo in Chaplin, SK was of interest--trucks are lined up to unload their loads of grain.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Fleming, SK

The oldest standing elevator in Saskatchewan is in Fleming. It was built in the late 1800's. I manipulated the photo to make it antique grayscale in order to give it a look that, I think, better suits the age of the elevator.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Elevator Outlines

This photo of the elevators in Kinistino, SK has been altered, via Photoshop, to pick out the outlines of the elevators. By concentrating on the shapes, one's impression of the elevators takes on a different meaning. There are fewer distractions and the inherent beauty of the design of the buildings is emphasized and celebrated. It's more like a sketch and leaves the eye to fill in the details, allowing room for imagination.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Broderick, Sask

We took this photo of the Broderick elevator in 2001 in late summer. The colours are often muted at midday, so I purposefully over-saturated this photo to highlight the beautiful colours in the photo. This elevator is reflected in a small "dugout". Dugouts are common in Saskatchewan. Holes are dug out in the ground in order to trap rain water and any Spring run-off to collect water for cattle and irrigation.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Only three elevators remained in Kinistino when we took photos of the elevator there in 2003. Originally there were at least five or six. That's typical of small centres. The elevators have been taken down one by one, until none or maybe one remains. The cement behemoths called inland grain terminals are taking their place but are spaced much further apart, requiring large trucks to transport the farmer's grain.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Prairie Grain Elevator Sites

I just came across another resource for people to go to to see more photos and information re prairie grain elevators. Click on the heading and enjoy the trip.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Historical Society honours country grain elevators

The Country Grain Elevator Historical Society has a website you might want to check out. It's great to see so much interest in elevators. My guess is that they've touched the lives of more people than we realize. (Just click on the title to go 'traveling'.)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sky high

Elevators are about 80 feet high. Getting to the top requires ladders and lifts. This ladder on the outside of an elevator in Carrot River, Saskatchewan, provides an interesting perspective on how tall these elevators really are. Enjoy the climb!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Alberta's next to Saskatchewan

Okay, the title states the obvious, but to the residents of Saskatchewan the province of Alberta is like a rich cousin that lives next door who keeps promising a better life if you only move in with him/her. Just check the license plates on the cars in Saskatoon or Regina during any holidays and you'll see a lot of them saying, "Rose Country", instead of "Land of Living Skies". These are the children or siblings of Saskatchewan residents who have joined the "madding crowd" in resource-rich Alberta.
I'm going to break the trend and include a photo of combines in Alberta. It was taken near Pincher Creek, Alberta. Comments?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Grain Elevator Museum

Probably due to the costs, Hepburn has the only town elevator museum in the province of Saskatchewan. That's unfortunate as there's a lot of history that will be lost over the years. There's a nice write-up on their web page that I've linked to the heading.

This is my 100th blog. I'm running out of photos and ideas as to how to keep the topic of Saskatchewan elevators front and centre. I'm going to take a break for a while and allow my faithful readers a chance to catch up on all one hundred blogs and links. If you have any comments or suggestions for further blogs on this topic, please let me know.
Stay tuned! And, take care.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Sunset in Allan

The sunset always makes for interesting light. This photo of Allan, Saskatchewan is an example. There's a big sky on the prairies and the sunrises and sunsets last a long time leaving the opportunity to take in the sights and colours of the slowly-changing sunlight.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The other towers on the prairies

Windmills used to be common on the prairies. They used wind power to bring water from the wells to the surface in order to water the livestock or to supply water for the farms. Many are still standing but most are down by now. Here's a photo of one in Saskatchewan that looks like it served the farm back when. It still has the wooden slats that caught the wind. Because they were made of wood they were not able to withstand the weather as well as the metal ones that came along later. So, that makes this one rather rare.

Friday, January 26, 2007

A long winter

In Saskatchewan leaves are on trees only 5 months of the year. That means that the norm on the prairies is bare-branched trees. That makes for a stark, rather colourless environment. What the snow does is brighten up the nights and the days as the snow acts as a reflector of any available light. That helps make up for the long, dreary season. Grain elevators act as a guide in the relatively flat landscape and add some structure to the empty nothingness that seems to be prevalent. One has to look at details and marvel at the colours and textures that somehow survive such a cold climate.
Here's another "cold" elevator to warm your heart.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Winter on the prairies

It's often a difficult time during winter on the prairies. The upside is that farmers can take a break from the working of the soil and go curling or on vacation, if they don't have cattle to feed or milk. Often the elevators open to take grain in the winter months, allowing the farmers to sell some of their stored grain.
But, it's very cold during winter on the prairies. "At least it's a dry cold", say prairie-dwellers. So, my question is: Do you prefer to be freeze-dried?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Ever Swam in a Wheat Pool?

There's got to be some humour out there about grain elevators and farming, etc. I came across this humorous story of a family in Alberta that has their own wheat pool to swim in. It's right next to a grain elevator so that they can enjoy being washed over by the wheat. It's a fun read. I've linked it to the heading and I've included the photo from their web page to show the pool.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Story of our elevators

The Canadian Encylopedia does a nice job of providing an overview of Canadian elevators, looking at the history, the architecture of elevators and the present situation. It's a great addition to information that's available on the 'net. (Click on title to see for yourself.)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Fleming, SK

The elevator that still stands in Fleming, SK (Fleming is located near the Manitoba border east of Moosomin. See map.) was built in 1895, according to the information that I've found. That means it's been standing during three centuries in time. Perhaps it should be made into an historical site for people from all over to appreciate. Hopefully, the community will see fit to keep it.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Anatomy of the grain elevator

I came across a light-hearted, yet detailed description of the insides of a prairie grain elevator and how it works. The link will appear when you click on the title of this blog. I totally agree with the statement that the new "inland prairie terminals" just aren't photogenic. The author also wonders what symbol will replace the elevator once there'll all gone. He suggests the bald eagle, which is already taken by our neighbour to the south. I would suggest the gopher be given serious consideration. ("Richardson Ground Squirrel".) Here's the scoop on this cute little rascal:
Other ideas?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

University of Saskatchewan archives

The U of S has an archive of 184 elevator photos dating back to 1979. Most seem to have been taken in the 1980's. There's even one of Wolseley taken in 1902. I've added it here for everyone to see. At the end of the file is a Special Section showing the construction of one elevator and the demolition of another. This link (Click on title of this blog) gives enough information to satisfy anyone looking for information about their hometown elevator that may be lost by now. It's exciting to see websites like this that are helping to preserve the history of the prairie grain elevators.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

King Wheat

As the web site I've linked to the heading states, wheat was king in Saskatchewan for many years. The hockey team in my home town was called "Wheat Kings" to recognize the size and importance of wheat to the local grain farmers.
Wheat is no longer the primary grain crop on the prairies but it still is one of the main grains that supplies the world with flour for breads and pastries.
Maybe wheat is still the king of grains!
I've uploaded the photo of a wheat field I posted earlier, but I thought it was a good time to include it to help the reader to visualize the size and breadth (no pun intended) of wheat fields.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Decline of grain elevators

I came across a site that lists of the number of Primary Grain Elevators on the prairies over the years. (Click on title if you'd like to read it all.) In 1933, there were 3,047 elevators in Saskatchewan. By 1986 there were only 994; by 1996, 656 and in 2006 there were only 179 licensed grain elevators left in Saskatchewan. That means there are only about 6% of these elevators left to see and enjoy. Amazing!

Monday, January 15, 2007


This is my 85th consecutive daily posting. I'm running out of photos, so I will be scanning and collecting some more elevator-related photos over the next few days. In the meantime enjoy looking at elevator photos by going to the links on this page. I have 118 elevator photos on "My Elevator Photo Albums" link, plus I have 115 on the Prairie Elevators site.
And, or let me know if you would like to see something in particular related to Saskatchewan elevators. I might just have it.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Vancouver-Saskatoon connection

A few years ago I was glancing at my photos of our walk through Stanley Park and noticed the shape of Siwash rock. (Click on title for more info.) It reminded me of the shape of the grain elevators in Saskatchewan. So, with the help of Photoshop I overlaid the Saskatoon C (Sea?) elevator on the Rock. I know that there's at least a 20 foot difference in actual height--the grain elevator being 80 feet high and Siwash rock almost 60. But it seemed to make for an interesting comparison, however far-fetched it may seem to the viewer.
That's the fun of playing with photos--imagining what else could be. Painters can include/exclude what they like in their final product. Why not photographers?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Young again

One would think that this village was named after the eternal quest for youth. It turns out it was named after a land agent. (Click on title for the link.) Aside from the interesting name the elevator itself seemed to be well looked after and made for some great late day shots as the sun cast its longer shadows. I recall someone telling me that this elevator no longer stands. Can anyone confirm that? Perhaps just the older one in the background was destroyed?

Friday, January 12, 2007

One of my favourites

This photo of the elevator in Leney, SK is one of my favourites. Why? Because it typifies rural Saskatchewan at harvest. Ripened wheat growing near the grain elevators that will store the grain once harvested. The wide open prairies surrounding the elevator. What is missing is a village. The abandoning of villages is also typical, unfortunately. The urbanization of the world is happening on the prairies, as well. The small farm is a thing of the past. As they disappear so do the many grain elevators that used to dot the landscape. It's almost as if part of our inner being is getting lost in the process. Will the replacement, i.e., large farms and urban living, be okay? Only time will tell.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Elevator Reflections

These elevators in Richlea, SK are reflected in the water standing beside the road nearby. The wide open spaces with people few and far between make for a different lifestyle. To use a pun, being alone and so far away from others leaves much time for reflection.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Red River carts

Before grain elevators became necessary farmers and their families had to settle the prairies. They came via the wooden carts that were often named, "Red River" carts, because they followed the Red River through Manitoba and into Saskatchewan and Alberta. They followed the same trail making for a rutted road, much like inverted railway tracks. At least that's the way I remember the history of early settlers and explorers arriving in the prairies. The Northwest Mounted Police didn't arrive until the Metis Rebellion in 1885. History is always written after the fact and with facts as remembered by the writers (much like I'm doing in this blog). I've added a link to one account of the Metis Rebellion in Batoche, Saskatchewan where Louis Riel made his "last stand". (To go to it click on the title of this blog.)
This photo is of the wheel of a Red River cart on display at the Batoche Historical Site.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Swaths as art?

The straight lines of these canola swaths on the side of a sloping field make for an interesting photo. Looking at these swaths as art allows the viewer to see more than just swaths waiting to be combined. Do you agree?

Monday, January 08, 2007

A Guessing Game

Now that the New Year is here, grain farmers begin to tally last year's earnings and take stock of their machinery. One of the major items to consider is the combine. Sometimes it's more economical to sell the old one and get a good used one or even buy a new one. While taking pictures of elevators it was interesting to see the harvest equipment lined up near the elevators--perhaps enticing the farmers to consider spending some money? For the photographer, placing a combine in the picture with an elevator connects the two quite nicely. This photo was taken in Bladworth in August 2001.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Crooked River, SK

While sorting out some old slides I came across a picture I'd taken in 1968 of the village of Crooked River. The elevator on the photo is no longer standing today so it was a nice find. The scene is a typical one of north central Saskatchewan with the rolling plains and green terrain. I worked in this area at the time and always admired this scenic spot every time I drove by it.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

A Sign of Hope

Farmers operate on a hope and a prayer. They hope for good weather and pray for a good harvest. The rainbow is seen as a sign of hope. When we saw this rainbow over the canola field I quickly pulled over to take a picture.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Hip-roofed barn

While the wooden grain elevators are icons on the prairies, there are other structures that could also qualify. The windmills and the hip-roofed barns are two others that come to mind. These, too, are disappearing from the landscape as they deteriorate and crumble. For those of us old enough to remember the many farms with these items it's also sad to see them going away. From time to time I'll include photos of these barns and windmills. There's a definite connection with them and grain elevators as the barns housed the animals and stored hay and straw from the fields that grew the grain that was hauled to the elevators. The windmills provided power to the pumps in the wells to water the livestock. Maybe the title of my blog be changed to, "Icons on the Prairies"?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Finally-From the bins to the grain elevator

Farmers are given quotas as to how much grain they can sell. When the quotas are open to do so the farmer must somehow transport the grain to the elevators. Many hire large trucks to move the grain as the smaller farm trucks just aren't big enough to make the long trip that may be necessary worthwhile. Now that the grain elevators are far and few between this is often true. I took this photo of a line-up of grain trucks at a wooden grain elevator this past September (2006).

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

V-Back to the combine

As evening approaches and the sun goes down in the West, the combine keeps on going until it's too damp to continue or the field is done. In this photo the grain is very dry and the wind is not blowing, leaving a long trail of dust. When I was on the combine back in the '60's we didn't have a cab. Going with wind was very uncomfortable as the dust made it difficult to breathe. The dust was also very itchy. So, enjoy the photograph without having to experience the dust and the itch.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

IV- From auger to bin

The wheat is transported into the grain bins with augers such as this one. The sun was getting low when I took this photo, so the sun's casting a strong light on the top part of the picture. It may be symbolic of a "bright future" for the harvest.

Monday, January 01, 2007

III-From the truck to the bins

Once the truck is filled with wheat the trucker drives the load to the farmyard where the grain bins are and backs up to the grain auger to unload the grain. Here's a photo of where the wheat and the auger meet.