Saturday, August 20, 2011

Vanishing Elevators

I imagine there aren't many wooden grain elevators left standing in Saskatchewan these days. We haven't gone looking lately. I took this photo of Parkbeg elevator in 2009, just off the TransCanada Highway about 60 kms. west of Moose Jaw. I read a book by Walter Stewart recently, called "My Cross-Country Checkup" (2000). He and his wife travel across Canada as they did in the '60's and revisit places they did then and make comments. His comments re the vanishing elevators is particularly telling. To quote: "An inland grain terminal can store, on average, about ten times as much grain--wheat, canola, flax, soya beans, peas, whatever--as one of the wooden elevators. It is thus more efficient to operate. This efficiency can be increased by making the farmer truck his crops farther and farther to a few huge terminals, rather than allowing him to drive a few kilometres down the road to a local elevator, where he probably wastes time chatting with the operator or even, God forbid, drinking a cup of coffee.
Of course, the cost to the farmer for trucking goes up, and so does the cost of road maintenance, in direct proportion to the reduction in costs for the elevator firms and the railways, but these are not matters that concern the people who make the long as the costs are borne mainly by the farmers, a less and less significant proportion of the voting population with every passing year, this is not an important consideration.
The same phenomenon that is wiping the elevators off the face of the prairie is observable in every sector of the agricultural economy." (pp. 189,190).

Too, too true!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

River Ferries

One of the thrills I experienced while living on a farm in Saskatchewan was getting a ride across the Saskatchewan River on a ferry. At the time the roads were gravel so one had to drive carefully when descending to the river's edge to wait for the ferry. The river was narrow enough that one could see where the ferry was. If the ferry was on the other side and the operator saw you coming he would immediately start the ferry towards the other side to load you. The operator and his family lived in a house near the ferry as he had to be available during daylight hours to operate the ferry. I've included a photo I took of the ferry near Wingard, Saskatchewan a few years back. I still enjoy going on these ferries whenever I get a chance. If you click on the heading you'll be directed to some history of river ferries in Saskatchewan. I believe that the stats indicating the number of horses pulling vehicles indicates horse-drawn wagons, many of which I'm sure were hauling grain to the local elevators. Prairie elevators provided the "stations" to which many a farmer went and the river ferries provided access to the other side of the river for many a farmer who lived near the mighty Saskatchewan Rivers.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Asquith, SK

Asquith is a small village not too far from Saskatoon. By the looks of their website the elevators may no longer be standing. Can anyone confirm this? I've added some effects to my original photo of these elevators to give them a "ghostly" appearance. That may be very appropriate as most elevators are gone and remain only as memories, or ghosts of the past.