Thursday, February 6, 2014

Prairie Grain Elevator Garden Art

Grain elevators are part of my early childhood memories. My first six years I lived on a cattle ranch. 

Finished grain elevator in Lisa's garden.

I found the Grain Elevator bird feeder last summer at a garage sale. It graced my front porch until early November. 

Before and Painted
Months of being outside weathered the paint. I scrubbed, painted with Simply White (CeCe Caldwell Chalk-Clay paint) then two clear coats of MinWax Polycrylic. 

Drying, before MinWax Polycrylic
I emailed Dad and asked him if he would write about his experiences with Grain Elevators in the 1930/40/50's. (Dad is 93 1/2). Going with Dad when he hauled the wheat to the grain elevator is part of my early memory bank. The noise, the dust, the smells of engines, tall men talking. A child's memories.

1906 Alberta Grain Co. grain elevator which was moved from Hobbema
"In 2002, ACRM added the second oldest standing grain elevator in Alberta to the collection. This elevator, built by Alberta Grain Company in 1906, will show our visitors how railways and elevators worked together to serve agriculture in Western Canada."
Alberta Central Railway Museum
Phone: (780) 352-2257
Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada

The two smaller pictures show the base tray.

The following was written by my Dad - a rancher until the mid 1950's and a rancher at heart forever. 

by Dick Hunt, Monday, February 3rd, 2014.

In the early days in Western Canada, Grain Elevators became landmarks wherever there were railroads to transport Grain over long distances. They have largely become almost extinct with the imrovement of roads, the development of large trucks to transport grain and very large Concrete elevators for storage and transshipment. Various towns across the west have undertaken to rescue and restore some of these landmarks of history. I  began to haul grain into each of three of these facilities into and out of Endiang, Alberta and adjacent communities in 1936, when I was 16 years of age. In harvest time  I hauled grain from the threshing machine when our equipment did custom work for many neighbours over a period of about 30 days each fall. That often kept me driving hard and shovelling grain at top speed each load at the machine to keep ahead of the non stop stream into the wagon.

Marty Brooker owns this Endiang photo.

In Endiang  there were three elevators; The Alberta Wheat Pool, the Searle and the Alberta Pacific. I used the ones apropriate for the customers our neighbours patronized. When I drove up the ramp into the elevator, the Operator by hand motions guided me to the right position to enable the hydraulic lift to engage the front wheels and tip the truck to dump the load out of the small opening at the rear of the grain box. That grain was graded according to quality and lifted by endless belt and steel “cups”  to be transported to the top of the elevator, then to be dumped into the correct “bins” through pipes that could be swung into position by the operator below. The positioning of the Truck was such that the truck could be weighed when loaded and then when unloaded to determine how many bushels of grain had been brought and careful records were kept.

At the Ranch we too sold grain to those grain companies, but only our wheat.The barley and oats that we grew always went into granaries at home for feeding to our Livestock - cattle and horses. We normally fattened about 450 two year old steers each year for shipping to market in May or June. We also “wintered” our own young cattle from the previous two years of calves to grow them to maturity for marketing. Normally we had over a thousand head of cattle the year round. Dad bought cattle over our own cattle scales from neighbours for fattening. He also bought feed grain from neighbours at market price. All in all, I spent a lot of time and energy shovelling grain each year, up to 200,000 bushels most years. When I finally went to Calgary to join the R.C.A.F. in July 1940, Dad gave me a signed cheque with instructions to have a grain auger shipped home to be installed on the truck to replace me. 

At the end of the War, having been married to Ruth in Calgary while still in uniform, we went back to the Ranch and into partnership with my eldest brother Wilfred.  I simply melded into Ranch life and back behind the wheel of the same truck, using the same “Scoop Shovels” and loading grain, but now with a loader to help me. 

Thank you for writing your memories Dad.

Thanks for visiting.
Posting again February 17th at 7 a.m.

Sharing with:

Garden Junk - Funky Junk Interiors May 30/14

Domestically Speaking


  1. We grew up with grain elevators in our part of the country also. Thank you for your prayers. They worked! I am blessed beyond measure.


  2. Thank you, Joy, for the research and Dad's account of the elevators. Interesting AND pretty!

  3. Have not seen many post on grain elevators. I really enjoyed yours. We have a few scattered around here.

  4. I loved this post. We grew up in Eastern Washington ... wheat country too! My cousins worked at grain elevators for summer jobs (their dad was the John Deere store, so they had the contacts)....I was a town girl, but well remember seeing those grain elevators when we went to visit friends or just on a drive. and hadn't really thought about the fact that they're not so needed any more.... almost gone.

    I love that your Dad wrote his memories for you; how I wish I had written ones from mine!

  5. Such an interesting post! Didn't know much about grain elevators, but I now! Thanks for linking to TTF!

  6. Joy, first of all I love birdhouses and collect them, and that one is neat as can be! So cute!

    Dropping by for Thrifty Things Friday!



  7. Very interesting Joy ... thanks for sharing your memories.
    Audrey Z. @ Timeless Treasures

  8. I really enjoyed this post. So glad I found it at Be Inspired! Have a week full of blessings.

  9. What an interesting post! Thank your father for me. My great-grandfather ran a grain elevator in the 30s/40s. My dad said his grandpa would give and his brothers bags of beans to use in their pea shooters! Ah-- the simple life!

  10. I love everything about this post! Your grain elevator is great-looking, and your dad's story is precious - a great way to record your family history. This spoke to me because my Pa Pa used to work at a grain elevator in Tulia, Texas. I loved going there to see him, and I remember the smells...Sometimes he would let me "drive" the fork lift - which was called a "tow motor."
    Thanks for sharing this at Revisionary Life Thrifty Life Thursday.

  11. What a fun find and an interesting post. I am featuring this post today at TTG FB page!

  12. I just wanted to let you know you're featured at Revisionary Life Thrifty Life Thursday tomorrow night!


Thanks for visiting. I read and appreciate all your comments. Joy

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