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ALBERTA WHEAT POOL GRAIN ELEVATOR SITE COMPLEX

Leduc

Other Names:
Leduc Heritage Grain Elevator
Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator
Leduc Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator
Leduc Elevator

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator Site Complex is comprised of a single composite grain elevator with an attached office building, two warehouses and a fertilizer elevator, all located on roughly 0.14 acres of land near downtown Leduc. The grain elevator features a main elevator building with an annex, sheet metal siding, a cupola, and the word "LEDUC" painted in various places on each elevation. The design of the fertilizer elevator mirrors that of the main building on a smaller scale (without the annex), and is sheathed in sheet metal. The two warehouses and the attached office are all simple, rectangular buildings, each sheathed in sheet metal.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Alberta Wheat Pool (A.W.P.) Grain Elevator Site Complex lies in its status as one of the last single composite, wood crib grain elevators constructed in Alberta. It also possesses heritage value for its general association with grain elevators - the primary means for rural Albertans to market and distribute grain throughout the twentieth century - and for its strong landmark and symbolic value.

The Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator Site Complex at Leduc is a physical testament to the final style of design in wood crib grain elevator construction prior to the widespread building of concrete and steel grain terminals. Built in 1978, during the transitional period between these two building trends, the 3,050 tonne capacity grain elevator contains both traditional and more contemporary elements: the wood crib construction is typical of established methods of building, while the modern power train and distribution system, along with the ventilation and dust collection machinery, embody more recent innovations. It is one of the last grain elevators built in Alberta to manifest this marriage of traditional structure with more contemporary mechanisms. The building's single composite design, composed of a main grain elevator with a single attached cribbed annex, and modern machinery reflects the trend during this period toward larger and more efficient grain-handling facilities capable of moving larger quantities of grain to market more rapidly. The elevator, attached office building, fertilizer elevator, and warehouses all typify the prairie vernacular industrial style of architecture; as such, this site is representative of similar elevator complexes of this period throughout western Canada.

The Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator Site Complex expresses several of significant threads of local and provincial history. As the last elevator of many built in Leduc during the twentieth century, the site speaks to the continuing history of agriculture in this rich grain-producing region. The site also recalls the spirit of agrarian co-operation that led to the creation of the Alberta Wheat Pool and its highly significant role in the handling and marketing of provincial grain. A prominent local and provincial landmark, interrupting the horizontality of the Prairies with its monumental vertical thrust, and a symbol of Alberta's rich agricultural life - past and present - the Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator Site Complex is an enduring icon of provincial history and identity.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 2105)


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

Site:
- spatial relationship between grain elevator, auxiliary buildings, and railway track;
- trackside winch.

Grain elevator:
- mass, form, and style;
- deep concrete pile and grade beam foundations;
- corrugated metal roof;
- sheathing and sheet metal siding;
- paint colour, "LEDUC" painted in white on each of four elevations;
- traditional wooden crib construction;
- laminated #1 fir planking;
- weigh scales and hoppers;
- drive shed and doors;
- trackside platform and doors;
- fenestration pattern and style;
- wooden window frames, mullions, and transoms;
- spout on west elevation and frame works on east elevation to facilitate loading;
- deep steel tank installed in concrete serving as foundation for base of the two legs;
- original mechanisms, including two legs, two horizontal augers on top and bottom of annex, dust collection system on the north elevation, electric motor, man lift, and gerber wheel.

Office:
- mass, form, and style;
- floor plan;
- sheet metal sheathing;
- fenestration pattern and style;
- interior layered with sheathing, pre-finished plywood panelling and fir plywood floors.

Two warehouses and fertilizer elevator:
- mass, form, and style;
- sheet metal sheathing.


Location



Street Address: 5209 - 47 Street
Community: Leduc
Boundaries: Plan 832 2663, Blocks 9 and 10
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 4

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
4
25
49
35
2 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
8322663
8322663
9
10
N/A
N/A



Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
53.266634 -113.546617 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: 2003/01/20

Historical Information

Built: 1978/01/01 To 1978/01/01
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: When Leduc was incorporated as a village in 1899, it was already the service centre for a large grain-growing district. When it became a town in 1906, it was the largest such centre on the Calgary & Edmonton (C & E) Railway between Strathcona and Wetaskiwin. At the time, grain buying in the community was done by the Brackman & Ker Company and the Alberta Grain Company, both private firms with elevators along a sidetrack paralleling the C & E line. In 1909, these companies were joined by the Alberta Pacific Grain (APG) Company. Such private companies then held a virtual monopoly over grain marketing in rural Alberta, to the growing displeasure of many farmers. With the farm population continuing to grow, however, farmers began to think about collective action. In 1909, Henry Wise Wood oversaw the formation of the United Farmers of Alberta (UFA), an organization devoted to mutual assistance, farm education and lobbying. By 1913, there was sufficient pressure to move the provincial government to initiate the establishment of the Alberta Co-operative Grain Company. With shares available only to the province's farmers, this company would soon amalgamate with the inter-provincial United Grain Growers.

With World War One, the UFA continued to grow, and it eventually had locals in almost all grain growing areas of the province. In 1921, it was powerful enough to contest and win the provincial election. By this time, post World War One overproduction of grain was resulting in declining prices, and it was felt that the best way to break the grip of the large grain companies was by pooling the commodity. Spurred on by one Aaron Sapiro of California, who had helped organize the fruit growers of that state, the UFA was moved to create the Alberta Wheat Pool (AWP) in 1923, with Henry Wise Wood as its first President. Shortly thereafter, AWP elevators began to spring up throughout the province. Their chief attraction was that the grain of the members could be marketed directly without any entrepreneurial siphoning off of profits. It was also recognized that pooling would protect the farmers somewhat from the extreme fluctuations in grain prices.

By the end of the 1920s, nearly half of the grain marketed in Alberta was through AWP elevators, as the skylines of rural communities became dominated by these and other "prairie giants." The vertical crib-framed facilities were called elevators because grain was "elevated" to a certain height by mechanical lifts for distribution through hoppers to various storage bins. Virtually every town, village and hamlet along the province's rail lines boasted at least one of these structures, with some communities such as Vulcan and Sexsmith having as many as eight. By mid-century, there were over 700 Alberta Wheat Pool elevators doing business in the province.

During the latter part of the century, the Alberta Wheat Pool was also handling seed and fertilizer distribution, with a gross annual profit to its members of over $1 billion annually. With a decline in rail transport, however, the number of wood frame elevators began to shrink, and, by the end of the century, all grain companies were consolidating their intake activities by erecting huge concrete storage facilities with hydraulic pressure used to elevate and distribute the grain. In 1998, the Alberta Wheat Pool itself was consolidated in an amalgamation with Manitoba Pool elevators to form Agricore Ltd.

In 1978, one of the last wood frame grain elevators to be built in Alberta was constructed in Leduc by the Alberta Wheat Pool. Probably because the structure was new and in good shape, it managed to survive the spate of elevator demolitions that has occurred in western Canada in recent years. This elevator has, however, now been closed due to the construction of larger concrete storage facilities nearby.

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE

The historical significance of the Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator Site Complex at Leduc lies in its provision of structural evidence of the standard method of grain storage and marketing in Alberta during the greater part of the twentieth century. It also stands as a testament to the ubiquity of the Alberta Wheat Pool, a farmers' collective that grew into a $1 billion per year marketing enterprise. The elevator also tells of the rich grain-growing district that surrounds Leduc, which made this community the largest farming service centre between Edmonton and Wetaskiwin.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0818
Designation File: Des. 2105
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 67774 (Elevator)
HS 67775 (Warehouse)
HS 67776 (Fertilizer Plant)
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. 2105)
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