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!