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Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator

Paradise Valley

Other Names:
Paradise Valley - Alberta Pool Elevator Co. - Elevator
1929 Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator
Alberta Wheat Pool Elevator (old Elevator)
Paradise Valley Grain Elevator

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator site is situated on 0.878 hectares in the Village of Paradise Valley. The grain elevator complex includes a 40-000 bushel capacity grain elevator with attached drive shed built in 1929, a 40,000 bushel-capacity annex added in 1962, and a 1990s addition constructed on the north side of the annex. The site also includes a detached elevator office and powerhouse building and a combined storage shed and outhouse. A small train station also stands on the site but is not included in the designation.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator at Paradise Valley lies in its association with the dominant method of storing and transporting grain in Alberta throughout most of the twentieth century. It is also valued as an icon of Alberta's agricultural and social history.


The late 1920s were boom times for Alberta farmers as higher yields and an expansion of markets swelled the coffers of the province's agriculturalists. The prosperity of the period prompted the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1929 to construct a spur line from Saskatchewan west across the Alberta border and to subdivide the townsite of Paradise Valley. Earlier settlement had occurred in the Paradise Valley area, but the potential of the region was necessarily limited by its distance from a railway line. The arrival of steel in the late 1920s stimulated a rapid growth in the community's agricultural infrastructure as grain elevators were erected to facilitate storage and transportation of local produce. Although Paradise Valley maintained only a modest population, it boasted six elevators at the height of its prosperity, including structures associated with the United Grain Growers, Searle Grain Company, Western Grain Company, McCabe Brothers Grain Company, and Federal Grain Company. The 1929 construction of the Alberta Wheat Pool (AWP) elevator in the community reflected the growing importance of co-operative organization among provincial farmers by the end of the 1920s. By the 1980s, the Alberta Wheat Pool had acquired control of all the remaining elevators in Paradise Valley. In subsequent years, as the AWP shifted the focus of its operations from smaller, local elevators to larger, district facilities, and as the highway system north of the community improved, all but one of the grain elevators in Paradise Valley were torn down.

Grain elevators are singular symbols of the Prairies, reflecting the province's deep economic and social connections to agricultural life and providing striking vertical landmarks against the often monotonous flatness of the West. Like other grain elevator sites in rural Alberta, the Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator site was an integral part of Paradise Valley's social fabric. The site encapsulates a pattern that defines the history of many rural communities - the growth of settlement following the arrival of the railway and the construction of grain elevators, the rise of the co-operative ethos that changed the face of grain marketing in western Canada, and the closing of grain handling facilities with improvements to the province's transportation infrastructure. The elevator complex thus represents in microcosm a whole range of changes to rural economy and society during the twentieth century.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1836)


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

Grain elevator and annex:
- mass, form, and scale;
- extant traditional wood crib construction;
- horizontal wood siding;
- maroon and white paint colour scheme;
- "ALBERTA WHEAT POOL LTD PARADISE VALLEY" signage;
- fenestration pattern and style;
- arrangement of doors, including large drive shed doors;
- historic interior elements, including equipment and machinery.

Office:
- mass, form, and scale;
- exterior pressed metal cladding;
- fenestration pattern;
- original interior elements.

Combined storage and outhouse building:
- mass, form, and scale;
- fenestration pattern;
- pattern of doors;
- maroon painted wood exterior.

Landscape:
- spatial relationship to railway right-of-way;
- grassy berm driveway leading up to drive shed.


Location



Street Address:
Community: Paradise Valley
Boundaries: Plan 912 1942, Lot 1
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 3

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
4
2
47
6
13 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
9121942

1


Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
53.030136 -110.295523 GPS NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type

Recognition

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

Historical Information

Built: 1929/01/01
Significant Date(s) N/A
Theme(s) Developing Economies : Extraction and Production
Developing Economies : Trade and Commerce
Historic Function(s): Food Supply : Grain Elevator
Current Function(s): Leisure : Museum
Architect:
Builder:
Context: HISTORICAL CONTEXT

When members of the Barr Colony settled in what would become the Lloydminster district at the turn of the twentieth century, they were soon served by the Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR), which arrived in 1904. With this, the farming district quickly expanded. One the areas to be flooded with homesteaders was located just southwest of Lake Bricker, in a district to be named Paradise Valley by a promoter with the California Land Company named Frank Henton. The first settlers began to take up land in 1906, and in 1910 a store and post office was opened by Kenneth Gunn on the southeast quarter of Section 30, Township 46, Range 2, West of the Fourth Meridian. Schools and churches soon followed in the district overall, although the main commercial centers remained Kitscoty and Lloydminster, some 20 kilometres to the north and northeast. Like much of rural Alberta, the Paradise Valley district prospered during the World War One years, but suffered a recession during the immediate aftermath of the war, with the overproduction of grain causing international prices to fall. Then, with the Locarno Pacts opening up markets in Europe, the demand for western Canadian grain rose. This, coupled with high yields, brought prosperity to the district during the late 1920s.

It was no doubt the high yields and growing demand for grain that encouraged the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) to extend a branch line from Marsden, Saskatchewan through to Paradise Valley in 1929. The track was built through to LSD 13 of Section 6, Township 47, Range 2, West of the Fourth Meridian, where the CPR subdivided a townsite and erected a small station. The post office was brought in, and a community called Paradise Valley quickly evolved, although it was never large and would not be incorporated as a Village until 1964. The district was prosperous however, and the farmers were happy not to have to haul their farm produce all the way to Kitscoty, for, almost immediately after the railway arrived, several grain elevators dotted the skyline. These were owned by the United Grain Growers (UGG), Searle, the western Grain Company, and the Alberta Wheat Pool (AWP). In time, these elevators were joined by structures owned by the McCabe Brothers and the Federal Grain Company.

That one of the first elevators would have been an AWP structure is not surprising, for, by this time, the AWP had become the predominant grain company in Alberta. It was a farmers owned company begun six years earlier under the direction of Henry Wise Wood of the United Farmers of Alberta (UFA). The AWP was a co-operative in the sense that all members agreed to pool their earnings to gain steady and assured profits. The profits were also marginally greater than normal as no entrepreneurial interests stood between the farmers and the international markets. This collective approach also allowed the farmers to withstand periods of low prices by holding back grain for sale until prices were higher.

The AWP elevator in Paradise Valley continued to serve the district throughout the Great Depression, when prices dropped to as low as $0.32 per bushel for No. 1 wheat. Prosperity returned with the coming of World War Two and the war's immediate aftermath. In 1962, the AWP elevator was accompanied by a large crib annex. Also, as so many district farmers were AWP members, the AWP gradually purchased the other elevators in the village until, by 1980, the AWP owned all five of them. Not long afterwards however, the AWP took a course leading to the building of larger district elevators, and the AWP elevators in Paradise Valley began to be dismantled. Farmers were soon made to take their grain north to Kitscoty, which became easier with the paving of Highway 897. The original AWP elevator was left standing however and was turned over to the Paradise Valley & District Museum Society. In 1997, it was designated a Registered Historic Resource.


HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE

The historical significance of the Alberta Wheat Pool Elevator in Paradise Valley lies in its provision of structural evidence of the principal economy of east central Alberta during the 20th century, the production and marketing of grain. The structure is also important in representing the Alberta Wheat Pool, the farmers co-operative which became the biggest grain company in the province.

(D. Leonard, 2005)

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HISTORICAL CONTEXT

The late 1920's was a prosperous time for rural Alberta outside the dry belt of the southeast. As grain prices were high, more lands were opened for farming. Much of the marketing of grain was, by now, undertaken in pooling endeavors, and most of this through the Alberta Wheat Pool (AWP), begun in 1923. The Alberta Wheat Pool Elevator in Paradise Valley, built in 1929, is symbolic of the prosperity of the time and of the collective method of grain handling then undertaken by Alberta farmers. It remains also a symbol of the staple economy of the Paradise Valley region, and, indeed, the Canadian prairies as a whole, the production and sale of grain which, at this time, was mainly wheat.


HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE

The historical significance of the Alberta Wheat Pool Elevator in Paradise Valley is mainly as representation of the major economy of the region and the method of grain handling in Alberta which evolved during the 1920's. It is also symbolic of the prosperity of the region during the late 1920's. No significant event or individual is associated with this structure.

(Historical Interest Summary)

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0659
Designation File: DES 1836
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 69619
Website Link:
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. 1836)
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