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Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator and Bow Slope Stockyard


Other Names:
Alberta Wheat Pool Elevator
Scandia - Alberta Pool Elevator Co.
Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator No. 1

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator and Bow Slope Stockyard site consists of a grain elevator complex [elevator, office and outhouse/fuel shed] built in 1927, a short section of remaining track from the former railway line, and a nearby stockyard, all of which are located on an approximately 21-acre parcel in the Hamlet of Scandia.

Heritage Value
The Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator and Bow Slope Stockyard site possesses heritage value as a rare surviving example of a once common complex of trackside structures associated with the movement of people, goods, grain and livestock among the agricultural communities of the southern Alberta. This cultural landscape is also significant for its association with the emergence of farming cooperatives that were instrumental in the development of the region

In the 1880s, the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) acquired massive tracts of land between Medicine Hat and Calgary as part of its agreement with the Dominion government to build a transcontinental railway. Seeking to attract settlement and increase rail traffic, the CPR invested in a massive irrigation project off the Bow River to water the arid lands in the region. The project was completed in 1914, though settlers did not begin arriving in large numbers until after World War One. Settlement was bolstered in the late 1920s with the construction of several branch lines in the area. The branch line from Brooks to Scandia was completed in 1927 and sparked immediate growth in the small community. The Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator No. 1 was built shortly after the "arrival of steel" and served the community for half a century, from 1927 until 1977, when rail service to Scandia was discontinued. The elevator is now the centrepiece of a historical interpretive park and museum.

The Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator and Bow Slope Stockyard site in Scandia encapsulates the history of many rural communities: the growth of settlement following the arrival of the railway; the construction of grain elevators; the rise of farming cooperatives; and the closing of railway lines and grain handling facilities as the province's transportation infrastructure evolved. Railways played an essential role in connecting agricultural communities, grain, and livestock with the international marketplace. Standing beside the former railway right-of-way, the Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator is a striking landmark and an icon of the grassroots, cooperative ethos that inspired the formation of farmers' organizations throughout the Prairies. Also dependent on the railway, the nearby Bow Slope Stockyard reflects the historical importance of mixed farming in rural Alberta. Like the grain elevator, it embodies the cooperative spirit that was further exemplified by the establishment of the Eastern Irrigation District and the transferral of water supply management from the CPR to a cooperative of regional farmers.

Embodying these varied aspects of Alberta's history, the Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator and Bow Slope Stockyard site is emblematic of the province's deep economic and social connections to agricultural life and uniquely represents in microcosm the transformation of the rural economy and society during the twentieth century.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1520.)

Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of the Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator and Bow Slope Stockyard site include such features as:

Grain Elevator:
- location beside railway right-of-way;
- mass and form, consisting of a tall vertical structure with cupola and attached shed-roof driveway;
- historic rust-red paint colour;
- white lettering on facades reading "Alberta Pool Elevators Ltd." and "Scandia";
- cedar shingles on roof and enclosed driveway;
- historic vertical board-and-batten driveway doors;
- original fixtures, and machinery such as the driveway scale, workbenches and cupboards, manlift;
- cribbed construction of elevator and frame construction of driveway.

Agent's office:
- physical separation from elevator (for purposes of fire risk mitigation) and raised wood walkway with enclosed drive belt linking engine in office basement to elevator leg;
- mass, form, scale, and style;
- wood frame construction;
- gable roof with brick chimney;
- pressed metal cladding on exterior and interior walls, roof, ceiling, and adjoining engine room;
- original fittings, engine, and artifact collection, including industry literature posted on the walls.

Outhouse and fuel shed:
- mass, form, scale;
- historic rust-red paint colour;
- gable roof;
- three-part division for outhouse, tool and fuel storage.

- proximity to railway and grain elevator;
- mass, form, and scale of buildings;
- spatial arrangement of buildings, fences, gates;
- livestock ramps;
- open shed roof livestock shelter;
- scale shed;
- construction methods and materials throughout (varies for each building).

Landscape elements:
- remnant of railway line track, including 60 lb steel rail;
- spatial relationship between buildings and landscape elements;
- concrete foundations and engine mountings from former elevators and offices (superstructures demolished);
- loading dock, a grass-covered embankment with a railway tie retaining wall lying parallel to the tracks which once served as a platform for embarking and disembarking trains.


Street Address: EID Historic Park
Community: Scandia
Boundaries: Portions of Plan RW219 wtihin NE 19-15-15-W4, SW 30-15-15-W4 and SE 30-15-15-W4
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 4
Collections: 1
Landscape(s) or Landscape Feature(s): 2
Structures: 2

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
16 (ptn.)

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


Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
50.276145 -112.046921 Secondary Source NAD83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2008/09/30

Historical Information

Built: 1927 to 1927
Significant Date(s)
Theme(s) Developing Economies : Extraction and Production
Developing Economies : Trade and Commerce
Historic Function(s): Food Supply : Barn, Stable or Other Animal Housing
Food Supply : Grain Elevator
Current Function(s): Leisure : Historic or Interpretive Site

After the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) extended its track from Medicine Hat to Calgary in 1883, land along the rail line became viable for homesteading. The CPR also acquired three and one-half million acres of land between Brooks and Calgary as part of its agreement with the Dominion government to build its line. Here, the CPR subdivided 80 acre plots and proceeded to advertise this land for sale to immigrant farmers. Because much of the land was bereft of adequate water supplies, the CPR undertook a vast irrigation scheme off the Bow River to make it more attractive. The project was completed in 1914 but, due to the war in Europe, settlers did not arrive in large numbers until after the armistice. Many more arrived after the CPR pushed through branch lines to parts of the district in the late 1920s. One of the lines extended south of Brooks to the Hamlet of Scandia, where a post office had been opened in 1924. In 1928, the Hamlet was graced with an Alberta Wheat Pool (AWP) Grain Elevator.

The AWP elevators were a part of the farmers’ co-operative movement in Alberta. They had been promoted from within the United Farmers of Alberta (UFA) by Henry Wise Wood. A major complaint of the province's farmers had been the control exercised by independent grain companies that could fix prices at their will. As a result of this, and the extreme fluctuations in the international demand for grain, farmers had often gone from prosperity to bust within short periods of time. According to Wood, the answer lay in a co-operative through which farmers could pool their grain and have it sold at opportune times and share equally in the profits. He managed to convince the UFA of this, and, when the AWP was formed in 1923, Wood became its first president. Before long, AWP elevators were to be found in most farming communities which had rail access. They eventually became the largest grain company in the province.

That the first elevator in Scandia should have been an AWP one was appropriate, for the farmers in this district had been coming together for some time over their collective bitterness against the CPR for having sold them their land. Though the yields of grain were high, 80 acres was simply not enough land on which to establish a profitable farm. The farmers formed associations to deal with the CPR, which argued that its irrigation projects were not turning a profit, despite what the farmers were paying for water. Finally, in 1934, a number of them at the eastern end of the area, led by one Carl Anderson, formed what they called the Eastern Irrigation District (EID), which took over the management of the water supply there from the CPR. Despite its cost, the irrigated water proved its worth in dry years, when other parts of southeastern Alberta were succumbing to drought conditions.

The productivity of the land in the Scandia district was such that, in 1937, the Federal Grain Company also built an elevator there. With World War Two, the demand for western Canadian grain rose, and the train service to Scandia became thrice weekly. Following the war, the AWP bought out the federal elevator, and soon shut it down. Eventually, improved roads were making it convenient for farmers in the northern parts of the district to take their grain to Brooks, and, so, the elevator was closed in 1977, as was the train service to Scandia. The elevator, however, was acquired by the Eastern Irrigation District Historical Park and Museum, and is now the centerpiece of an agricultural museum. In 1994, it was designated a Registered Historic Resource.

(D. Leonard, 2005)



The Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator No. 1 was built in 1927-28 coinciding with the arrival of a Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) branch line into the Scandia district. Although the area had been settled some years earlier, the arrival of a rail line and an elevator made the business of farming in this section of the Eastern Irrigation District (EID) much simpler and more viable. Operated by the Alberta Wheat Pool (AWP) the elevator also reflects the role of the co-operative movement and farmers' organizations in changing grain marketing on the Canadian prairies. When the CPR abandoned the Scandia section of branch line from 1977 to 1978, the elevator went out of service. It has, however, been preserved as an important part of a local historical park.

The history of this elevator is intimately tied to the local history of this agricultural region. It reflects both the last great period of branch line development by railways in Alberta and the more recent history of rail line abandonment and elevator closure in smaller rural communities.

(Site Information Summary)

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0602
Designation File: DES 1520
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 69670
Website Link: N/A
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 1520)
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