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Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator and Annex

Sexsmith

Other Names:

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
Located opposite the Town of Sexsmith’s railway station, parallel with the town’s commercial main street of 100th Street, the Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator and Annex is located just west of downtown Sexsmith. Marked by the Alberta Wheat Pool sign on the east façade, the grain elevator features traditional cribbed construction identified by its tall, totemic, rectangular plan, gabled roof with raised gabled cupola, and associated gabled roof annex.

Heritage Value
The Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator and Annex, constructed in 1961 and 1976, respectively, are significant as one of the last wooden-frame grain elevators in Sexsmith, and an icon of Sexsmith’s agricultural history. Grain elevators were built in Canada’s prairie provinces to facilitate the movement of grain to market. Before their appearance, farmers were responsible for storing and hauling their own grain to railway terminals, which was both inefficient and laborious. The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) demanded a better system and offered free land rentals to private companies willing to build large grain elevators adjacent to their railway. This led to a boom in grain elevator construction throughout Alberta in the 1910s. Although efficient, storage rates were high, and farmers became suspicious of both the private operators and the CPR that controlled the transportation and marketing of Canadian grains. As a result, farmers’ cooperatives were formed to protect farmers’ interests. The establishment of farmer cooperatives was further encouraged by the events of the First World War, when the Canadian Federal government took over the sale of grain to regulate prices and meet the exigencies of the war effort. After the First World War and following the hard years of post-war recession, the Alberta Wheat Pool (AWP) was established in 1923, with over 26,000 farmers joining in the first year. Initially, the AWP used grain elevators operated by the United Grain Growers and Alberta Pacific Grain, but gradually the AWP began to buy and also build its own grain elevators. In 1932, the AWP purchased an elevator in Sexsmith from the Gillespie Elevator Co., originally built in 1917. The arrival of the railway in 1916,coupled with nutrient-rich soil and long summer days, made the Sexsmith area ideally suited for large-scale commercial agriculture. By the late 1920s, Sexsmith was shipping more grain than any other place in the British Commonwealth. The 1950s marked the peak in the number of elevators operating in Sexsmith, with numerous structures owned by competing companies aligned along the railway track. The original AWP elevator continued to operate until it burned down in November 1960, resulting in an estimated loss of half a million dollars for Sexsmith farmers. The extant elevator was built in 1961, atop of a portion of the original 1917 elevator’s foundation. Built by contractor Dennis Johnson, the new structure was a wooden composite elevator standing nearly 30 metres tall with the capacity to hold 148,000 bushels of wheat. An annex was added in 1976. In 1998, the Alberta Wheat Pool merged with Manitoba Pool Elevators to create the company Agricore. It operated until 2001, when Agricore then merged with the United Grain Growers to form Agricore United. In 2007, Agricore United was taken over by the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, which then re-branded as Viterra. Three years after this merger, Viterra built a new regional facility approximately three kilometres south of Sexsmith. In 2013, Glencorp purchased the elevator and facility; however, it retained the name Viterra. As of January 2014, the Town of Sexsmith is in the process of acquiring the historic Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator and Annex. Sexsmith’s two remaining elevators, situated to the northwest of the Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator and Annex, are slated for demolition. The Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator and Annex will then become the last remaining vestige of Sexsmith’s rich agricultural heritage.

The Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator and Annex is further prized for its quintessential, prairie elevator architecture. It features traditional cribbed construction identified by its tall, totemic, gabled massing, raised gabled cupola, and associated detached annex. The company name, Alberta Wheat Pool, although partially painted over, is still highly visible on the east façade of the main structure; the nominal Sexsmith sign is still distinct on the east, north, and south sides.

Lastly, the Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator and Annex is valued as a historic landmark in Sexsmith. It holds a prominent place adjacent to Sexsmith’s railway and is highly visible throughout the town.


Character-Defining Elements
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Alberta Wheat Pool Elevator and Annex include but are not limited to its:

-location on the southwest side of the Town of Sexsmith, adjacent to the CN Railway line and opposite Sexsmith’s commercial main street, 100th Street;
-sited prominently near surrounding agricultural fields;
-form, scale, and massing as expressed by its: rectangular plan; traditional cribbed construction with gabled roof and gabled roof cupola; side-gabled annex;
-wooden-frame construction including: lapped wooden siding;
-original fenestration such as: single assembly 6-over-6 single-hung wooden-sash windows; single assembly multi-light wooden-sash windows; large wooden double doors; and
-additional features such as: “Alberta Wheat Pool” sign painted on east façade; “Sexsmith” sign painted on the east, north and south façades; exterior truck loading spouts; associated annex building including gabled roof annex; multiple slat vents.


Location



Street Address:
Community: Sexsmith
Boundaries: Portion of Block A, Plan 1623BQ
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 2

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
6
6
73
25
06

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
1623 BQ
A



Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
55.34913339 -118.78604641 GPS NAD27

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type

Recognition

Recognition Authority: Local Governments (AB)
Designation Status: Municipal Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2014/09/02

Historical Information

Built: 1961 to 1976
Significant Date(s) 1957 to 1982
Theme(s) Building Social and Community Life : Community Organizations
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life : Architecture and Design
Historic Function(s): Food Supply : Grain Elevator
Current Function(s): Community : Commemorative Monument
Architect:
Builder: Dennis Johnson
Context:

Additional Information

Object Number: 4664-0438
Designation File:
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File:
Website Link: https://www.sexsmithmuseum.com/
Data Source: Town of Sexsmith Land File, Roll # 700007749
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