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Alberta Grain Company Grain Elevator

St. Albert

Other Names:
Alberta Grain Company Elevator
Alberta Pacific Grain Company Elevator
Alberta Wheat Pool Elevator No. 2
Brackman Kerr Milling Co. Elevator
Federal Grains Ltd. Elevator

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Alberta Grain Company Grain Elevator is a traditional grain elevator clad in sheet metal with an attached drive shed and an office/engine house connected to the main structure by a covered walkway. The elevator is located on Meadowview Drive in St. Albert on a 0.8 hectare parcel of land. It is situated adjacent to the Canadian National Railway line and beside an Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator which is also a Provincial Historic Resource.

Heritage Value
The Alberta Grain Company Grain Elevator possesses heritage value as one of the oldest extant elevators in the province built by one of its earliest milling companies. Grain elevators possess significance as both embodiments of the dominant method of grain storage and transportation throughout most of the twentieth century in Alberta and as icons of the province's social and agricultural history.

The construction of two railway lines to Edmonton - the Calgary and Edmonton Railway in 1891 and the Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR) in 1905 - opened up central-northern Alberta to agricultural settlement and spurred the growth of a grain economy in the region. In anticipation of the CNoR line being extended northwest, and caught up in the optimism about the area's prospects for development, the Brackman Kerr Milling Co. built an elevator in St. Albert in 1906 coinciding with the extension of the CNoR through St. Albert to Morinville. The 30,000 bushel, rectangular, gasoline-powered structure is one of the earliest extant elevators in Alberta; indeed, the first elevator of this type in Alberta had been built only ten years before. Throughout the course of its history, the elevator was operated under a number of names while owned by a succession of companies, including: the Brackman Kerr Milling Co. (1906-1909) the Alberta Grain Company (1909-1912), the Alberta Pacific Grain Company (1912-1967 – owned by Federal Grain Ltd. 1929-1967), the Federal Grain Company (1967-1972), and the Alberta Wheat Pool (1972-1989). In 1937, the grain elevator was raised vertically in order to increase bin capacity. This was a technique for moving higher volumes of grain before the construction of adjacent annexes became common. Consequently the elevator was able to operate until 1989 when St. Albert was closed as a railway point for grain export.

Grain elevators are singular symbols of the Prairies, reflecting the region'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 elevators in Alberta, the Alberta Grain Company Grain Elevator was an integral part of St. Albert's social fabric. The site encapsulates a pattern that defines the history of many of Alberta's early 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 nature of grain marketing in western Canada, and the closing of older grain elevators in recent decades as a result of improvements to the province's transportation infrastructure and the development of mass storage facilities for grain. The elevator complex thus represents in microcosm a whole range of changes to Alberta economy and society during the twentieth century. Together, the Alberta Grain Company Grain Elevator and the Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator form an elevator row that is a landmark for the community of St. Albert.

Source: Alberta Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women, Historic Resources Management Branch (Files: DES 1723 and DES 2173)

Character-Defining Elements
The heritage value of the Alberta Grain Company Grain Elevator lies in such character-defining elements as:
- the scale and massing of the grain elevator;
- the tall rectangular design expressing its grain handling function, with wooden crib construction, exposed structural members, sloping shoulder design, wood framing, and cupola;
-the enclosed wood-framed driveway, capped with a shed roof, attached to the south side of the elevator;
-the original pit (boot) below the floor of the driveway, into which grain was unloaded;
-an extended driveway with a gable-roof to the west of the main drive-through;
-earth-built ramps on both ends of the driveway;
- metal cladding of pattern pressed galvanized sheet metal overtop of lapped wood siding;
- in situ components of the grain handling systems, such as the elevator leg and distributor, weigh scale, hopper scale, and drive shed scale bed, control wheel and levers, electric motors, bins, hopper, belts and pulleys for the vertical conveyor belt, wood bins and chutes, and man-lift;
-the gable-roofed agent’s office with a weather-proof connection to the drive-through;
- fenestration pattern;
-prominent corporate signage;
- spatial relationships between the Alberta Grain Company Grain Elevator, the Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator, and the railway line.


Street Address: 4C Meadowview Drive
Community: St. Albert
Boundaries: Lot 2, Block 9, Plan 0625107
Contributing Resources: Building: 1

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

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

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
53.633254 -113.641861 GPS NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2007/01/19

Historical Information

Built: 1906 to 1906
Period of Significance: 1937 to 1937
Theme(s): Developing Economies : Extraction and Production
Developing Economies : Trade and Commerce
Historic Function(s): Food Supply : Grain Elevator
Current Function(s): Leisure : Museum
When Father Albert Lacombe, O.M.I. (Oblates of Mary Immaculate), established his Mission on the north side of the Sturgeon River in 1861, he worked with the local Métis population to develop the fledgling community, a settlement which would evolve into a town and, eventually, a city. His little church would eventually become a Catholic bishopric.
It was Lacombe's intent to have the Métis residents around his parish become farmers, and so he encouraged them to till the soil. He immediately assigned river lots along the Sturgeon, which provided for the planting of gardens and small fields of wheat, oats and barley. By 1870, the population around the Church had increased to such an extent that the community had become the largest settlement between Winnipeg and Vancouver. The St. Albert Settlement was officially surveyed in 1880. From this time until the middle of the twentieth century, St. Albert was mainly a farming community.

Initially, most grain grown in the fields around St. Albert was for domestic use, some as fodder for horses and cattle, some for the making of bread, with wheat ground into flour with domestic mills. Then, after the Calgary & Edmonton (C & E) Railway arrived South Edmonton in 1891, some of the grain from the district began to be shipped to outside markets via this terminal. The 1890's also saw much land beyond St. Albert opened up for homesteading. The community itself therefore continued to grow and take on the appearance of a northern prairie farming town, and, in 1899, it was incorporated as a village with over 100 people. During these years, the St. Albert Trail saw many horse-drawn wagon loads of grain taken to the railhead in Strathcona, or to various mills in Edmonton or Strathcona. In St. Albert itself, a flour mill was built by a group of local businessmen called the St. Albert Company.

In the fall of 1905, the Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR) entered Edmonton from the east, and, immediately, more farmland in the areas out from St. Albert was opened up for settlement. The trip to sell grain at the elevators of Edmonton was also made much shorter. Some farmers, however, were now selling their grain at St. Albert's first grain elevator, built in 1906 by the St. Albert Company. That same year, on the strength of provincial government bond guarantees, the CNoR constructed a rail line from its terminal in Edmonton across the Sturgeon River to the west side of the town with the full intention of having it divide at this location, with lines eventually continuing on to Vancouver, the Peace River Country, and Athabasca Landing.

With the completion of theCNoR line to St. Albert, the town became immediately eligible for a railway grain elevator, and the Brackman Kerr Milling Co. built its elevator in 1906. The elevator was operated under a number of names while owned by a succession of companies including the Brackman Kerr Milling Co. (1906-1909), the Alberta Grain Company (1909-1912), the Alberta Pacific Grain Company (1912-1967 – owned by Federal Grain Ltd. 1929-1967), Federal Grain Co. (1967-1972) and finally as a Alberta Wheat Pool elevator (1972-1989). In 1937 the elevator was extensively remodeled to increase its capacity to compete with more recent Gillespie and Alberta Wheat Pool elevators. The Pool would continue to operate it along with its other St. Albert elevator until St. Albert was closed as a railway point for the export of grain in 1989.


The historical significance of the Alberta Grain Company Elevator in St. Albert lies in its service as a grain elevator to the district from about 1906 to 1989, although extensive rebuilding and renovations of the structure took place in 1937. As such, it was a focal point for the main economy of the district for most of the first half of the twentieth century.

(D. Leonard, September 2005; updated P. Melnycky, August 2019)

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-1071
Designation File: DES 2173; DES 1723
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 29267
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: DES 2173)
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