Annexes were built when more grain storage was needed than the elevator could provide. During the Second World War, numerous annexes were built across the Prairies to hold grain that could not be shipped to European markets. “Balloon annexes” were wooden frame structures, so named due to their tendency to balloon outward from the weight of grain inside. Here we see the Manitoba Pool elevator at Eden, in the RM of Rosedale, that had three balloon annexes when this photo was taken in the late 1940s. Built in 1928, the elevator closed in December 1977. Its railway line was abandoned in early 1981 and the tracks were removed. The elevator is no longer present at the site.
Photo: Manitoba Pool Collection, S. J. McKee Archives, Brandon University
This historically significant photo of Niverville was taken in 1910, when three generations of grain-handling facilities were standing together. On the right was the first elevator in Western Canada, a round 25,000-bushel facility built in 1878 by William Hespeler of Winnipeg, to receive grain from newly arrived Mennonite farmers. On the left is a “flat” grain warehouse, a horizontal type that was once common across the Prairies. They were quickly replaced by more efficient vertical elevators. This one was used as a community hall from 1929 to 1963. In the centre is a 27,000-bushel elevator built in 1904 by Ogilvie Flour Mills and dismantled in 1938 to make way for a new 35,000-bushel elevator.
Photo: Pool Collection, S. J. McKee Archives, Brandon University
A 30,000-bushel grain elevator at Vista, on Highway 45 east of Rossburn, was built by Manitoba Pool Elevators in 1940 for a local co-operative association. Two steel tanks were built beside it in 1964 and, in July 1968, the facility was closed then, a few months later, sold to United Grain Growers, becoming UGG’s second elevator at the site. UGG also bought the residence used by the Pool managers. Both elevators have since been removed from the site.
Photo: University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections
A 30,000-bushel elevator at La Salle, on the CPR La Riviere Subdivision in the Rural Municipality of Macdonald, was built in 1938 by the Paterson Grain Company using materials salvaged from a demolished elevator at Dumas, Saskatchewan. It replaced an earlier elevator built around 1912 by local farmer Moise Cormier and sold to Paterson in 1916. Balloon annexes were built beside the elevator in 1940 and 1955, increasing its capacity to 89,000 bushels. The annexes were subsequently replaced by six steel tanks between 1986 and 1988. Operated by a part-time manager, the facility is used to store beans.
In the 1950s, there were over 700 grain elevators in Manitoba. Today, there are fewer than 200. You can help to preserve the legacy of these disappearing “Prairie sentinels.”
The Manitoba Historical Society (MHS) is gathering information about all elevators that ever stood in Manitoba, regardless of their present status. Collaborating with the Manitoba Co-operator it is supplying these images of a grain elevator each week in hopes readers will be able to tell the society more about it, or any other elevator they know of.
MHS Gordon Goldsborough webmaster and Journal editor has developed a website to post your replies to a series of questions about elevators. The MHS is interested in all grain elevators that have served the farm community.
Your contributions will help gather historical information such as present status of elevators, names of companies, owners and agents, rail lines, year elevators were built — and dates when they were torn down (if applicable).
There is room on the website to post personal recollections and stories related to grain elevators. The MHS presently also has only a partial list of all elevators that have been demolished. You can help by updating that list if you know of one not included on that list.
Your contributions are greatly appreciated and will help the MHS develop a comprehensive, searchable database to preserve the farm community’s collective knowledge of what was once a vast network of grain elevators across Manitoba.