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Alberta Pacific Grain Elevator

Castor

Other Names:
1910 Alberta Pacific Grain Elevator
A. P. G. Elevator
A.P.G. Elevator
Alberta Pacific Grain Elevator (1910)
APG Elevator
Castor Elevator
Castor Grain Elevator

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Alberta Pacific Grain Elevator site comprises approximately 0.19 hectares of land in the Town of Castor and includes two early twentieth century buildings - a traditional 45,000-bushel grain elevator with attached drive shed and an office building which also houses the motor. The two buildings are connected by a walkway. The elevator was built on the standard square design and features "ALBERTA-PACIFIC GRAIN CO. LTD CASTOR" painted in white against the structure's maroon exterior.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Alberta Pacific Grain Elevator lies in its association with grain storage and marketing in the province and in iconic value as a symbol of Alberta's agricultural and social history.

In 1909, the Premier of Alberta, Alexander Rutherford, initiated an ambitious campaign to expand the province's railway network. His offer of lucrative bond guarantees to major railway companies willing to extend Alberta's transportation infrastructure initiated a flurry of railway line construction. One of the new lines laid proceeded west from Stettler to the Beaver Dam Creek; at the "end of steel", a new station was erected and a townsite named Castor was subdivided. The new settlement quickly became an agricultural boomtown, boasting 500 residents by 1910 and acting as a service centre for the vast agricultural hinterland in the region. The first grain elevator in the community was constructed in 1910 by the Alberta Pacific Grain Company. In 1913, the railway line was extended east past Coronation, eventually reaching into Saskatchewan and linking Castor into the vast rail network stretching across the Prairies to the grain terminals at the Lakehead. Several new elevators were erected shortly after to capitalize on Castor's integration into the domestic and international grain marketing system. In 1917, with Europe's increased demand for wheat during World War One and bumper crops on the Prairies, the Alberta Pacific Grain Co. Ltd. decided that its original 1910 elevator with a 35,000-bushel capacity was too small and replaced it with the current 45,000-bushel elevator. This elevator was sold to the Federal Grain Co. in 1967 and subsequently owned by the Alberta Wheat Pool and the United Grain Growers. The elevator is one of the earliest of these Prairie icons still standing in the province. It remains a striking visual reminder of Castor's prosperity during World War One and an enduring symbol of Alberta's agricultural and social history.

The Alberta Pacific Grain Elevator site features an elevator with attached driveway and an office building housing the motor. The elevator exemplifies the standard square elevator design with traditional wood crib construction and is a fine embodiment of the Prairie Vernacular Industrial architectural style. Possessing a capacity of 45,000 bushels, the Alberta Pacific Grain Elevator contains all the essential elements of a functional grain elevator, including a drive shed, conveyor, Gerber wheel, and man lift, as well as square vertical woodbins, weigh scales and hoppers. The office is a bi-level frame structure finished on the exterior with horizontal siding. The motor for powering the distribution system is located in the basement of the office building.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 2088)


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

Grain elevator with attached drive shed:
- mass, form, and style;
- steel tank at grade level and below the area between the outside foundations;
- traditional wood crib construction;
- sheathing and horizontal siding painted maroon;
- "Alberta-Pacific Grain Co. Ltd Castor" signage painted in white;
- cupola;
- fenestration pattern and style;
- arrangement and style of doors, including large drive shed doors;
- trackside platform, doors, ladder, and spout;
- drive shed;
- original design elements, material, and machinery such as manlift and Gerber wheel.

Office building:
- mass, form, and style;
- exterior wooden clapboard siding;
- fenestration pattern and style, including original windows.
- original fittings and machinery, including motor.

Landscape:
- walkway between elevator and office;
- grassy berm leading up to drive shed.


Location



Street Address: 49 Avenue
Community: Castor
Boundaries: Lot 10, Block 50, Plan 0323405
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 2

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
4
14
37
35
4 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
0323405
50
10


Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
52.216905 -111.904192 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: 2004/02/13

Historical Information

Built: 1917 to 1917
Significant Date(s)
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: Alberta Pacific Grain Company
Context: When the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) began to survey a grade west from Lacombe to Kerrobert, Saskatchewan in 1904, a number of prospective farmers began to apply for homesteads on land off of the rail grade. By 1906, interest began to subside for the line had not gotten east of Stettler. In the spring of 1909 however, the government of Alberta announced lucrative bond guarantees for the extension of branch lines, and, during the following summer, construction activity was intense throughout the province. This included the CPR line east from Stettler to the Beaver Dam Creek. Here, at the end of steel, a station was erected and a town site subdivided called Castor, the French word for Beaver. As the agricultural hinterland instantly filled up with settlers, the community of Castor became an agricultural boomtown. In November 1909, it was incorporated as a village, and, in June of the following year, it became a town with over 500 people, holding all the commercial and social facilities required of a farming centre.

Among the necessities for such a town were grain elevators. As early as June 1910, it was announced that the Alberta Pacific Grain (APG) Company was building at Castor, Halkirk and Tees. The 35,000-bushel structure at Castor would be completed later that fall, and, during the winter of 1910-11, local farmers were able to market their grain. In an unusual move, the elevator was located on the same side of the railway track as Main Street. In 1913, the rail line was extended eastward past Coronation, eventually reaching Kerrobert. This gave Castor a direct line to the grain terminals at the Lakehead. As a result, three other elevators were soon built, and Castor soon began to benefit from the high grain prices of World War One. Indeed, by 1917, the original Alberta Pacific elevator was proving too small, and so the Company constructed a larger one, designed to store upward to 45,000 bushels.

Although Castor soon began to decline as a community, its population dropping to 625 by 1941, the elevators continued to survive, being in the centre of such a rich agricultural district. In 1967, the Alberta Pacific structure was taken over by the Federal Grain Company, and, in 1972, by the Alberta Wheat Pool (AWP). Its most recent owner/operator was United Grain Growers (UGG), which closed it down in the mid 1990s in favour of a larger and more efficiently run concrete structure in the district. The 1917 Alberta Pacific structure however has been acquired by the Castor and District Museum Society, which is attempting to undertake its restoration. The two other grain elevators which stand nearby (including a 1913 building) are slated for demolition.

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE

The historical significance of the Alberta Pacific Grain Elevator in Castor lies in its provision of structural evidence of the method of storing and marketing grain in rural Alberta during most of the twentieth century. This structure is particularly important in that it dates from 1917, a period in time when crops were bountiful and the demand for wheat was high because of the war in Europe. It is important also for the role it played in the development of Castor, a community which sprang to life in 1910 with the arrival of the railway, and continued to serve a large agricultural hinterland, the existence of which depended upon the marketing of grain.

(Historical Interest Summary)


Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0876
Designation File: DES 2088
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 66982
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. 2088)
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