Today will forever be remembered by me as the day the skyline in Grimshaw changed.
While I have resided in this town for only a little shy of six years, the seafoam green grain elevators that defined the skyline in Grimshaw were always a welcome sight.
I distinctly remember noticing them when I first pulled into Grimshaw on September 5, 2010. At that time there were two. My friend and I had just completed a cross-Canada road trip (Check out our journey – Day 1, Day 2, Day 3) from Ontario to Alberta and along the way we were impressed with the number of grain elevators along the way. These tall buildings define the skylines in many small towns across the prairies. Grimshaw was no different.
However, with changes in both the farming and rail industry, these old wooden grain elevators have become more of a liability and less useful.
Grimshaw lost the first of its remaining elevators in 2014. It was the oldest of the two and long-ago abandoned. It was also where I chose to have a few wedding photos done because while it was worn down, it was beautiful.
Wooden grain elevators are slowly disappearing from the prairies, and while I understand that not every one can be saved, I still feel sad to see both of Grimshaw’s disappear. According to Retroactive, a blog about Alberta’s historic places, there were 1,781 grain elevators in Alberta in the 1930s. In 2012 there were just 130 left on railway right of ways. As of today, another one has disappeared.
A short while ago my co-worker shared that as a child when her family would be on their way home to Grimshaw from a summer road trip, her mom’s response to the question “are we there yet?” was always “Look for the elevators.” She then expressed disappointment over the fact that she would be unable to say the same thing to her own children.
These elevators are a piece of our small towns’ histories. They’re a place where many of the founders earned their incomes, a landmark that made people know they had made it “home,” and a beautiful reminder to the non-agricultural folks of how our towns were built.