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Rowley Grain Elevator Row

Rowley, Near

Other Names:
A. W. P. Elevator
A.W.P. Elevator
Alberta Wheat Pool Co.
Alberta Wheat Pool Elevator Twin United Grain Growers
Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator
AWP Elevator
Rowley Grain Elevators
Searle Grain Company Grain Elevator Site Complex
United Grain Growers - Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator Site Complex
United Grain Growers Grain Elevator (1940) and Twin
United Grain Growers Grain Elevator Twin (1917)
United Grain Growers Ltd.

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Rowley Grain Elevator Row is a historic row of grain elevators and auxiliary buildings in the hamlet of Rowley. The site includes the United Grain Growers - Alberta Wheat Pool twinned grain elevators, the Searle Grain Company Grain Elevator, an engine shed, a fuel shed and two office buildings


Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Rowley Grain Elevator Row lies in 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 Searle Grain Company Grain Elevator site is comprised of a single elevator structure built by the Searle Grain Company in 1932, with an office and small fuel shed. It is an early example of the Prairie Vernacular industrial style of railroad structure built to a "standard tall" plan with a grain storage and handling capacity of 44,000 bushels. The structure is an excellent example of crib construction and retains a high degree of integrity with respect to its original design elements, machinery, and material. It is the oldest known extant example of an elevator constructed by the Searle Grain Company in Alberta.

The United Grain Growers-Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator site is comprised of a single elevator constructed by the United Grain Growers in 1920 that was twinned when the Alberta Wheat Pool constructed a single elevator adjacent to it in 1940. The twinned elevators are accompanied by an office building and power-house. Both elevator structures are very good examples of the Prairie Vernancular style and were built to a standard square plan designed by the United Grain Growers in 1917. They retain a high degree of original integrity with some alterations made to accommodate the twinning in 1940. The site complex is a very good example of a twinned elevator complex that shows the materials and mechanical systems used within a two-decade period. The United Grain Growers component is the oldest known extant example of an elevator constructed by the United Grain Growers in Alberta.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 2119)


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

Landscape:
- driveway providing access to both elevators;
- walkway between driveway and elevator office;
- visual and spatial relationships between site and rail right-of-way and adjacent approach road, between the twin elevators, between the twin elevators and the Searle Grain Company Grain Elevator Site Complex Provincial Historic Resource, and between the twin elevators and the hamlet's nearby main street;
- vestiges of rail bed.

Searle Grain Company Grain Elevator:
- mass, form, and style;
- thick, wooden, windowless shaft crowned by gable roofed cupola;
- crib construction;
- wood plank construction drive shed with south end access doors;
- original design elements, fixtures, and machinery, including the conveyor belt and cups, man-lift with rope pulley system, gerber wheel, hopper scale, and truck scale.
- Searle company logo visible on east, west and south elevations

Office:
- mass, form, and style;
- exterior sheet metal cladding;
- original windows and doors;
- gasoline powered engine;
- one interior wall clad with original metal siding.

Fuel shed:
- mass, form, and style;
- location roughly 20 feet from grain elevator;
- horizontal wood siding.

United Grain Growers - Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator Twin elevators:
- mass, form, and style;
- thick, wooden, windowless shafts crowned by gable roofed cupolas;
- crib construction;
- wood frame windows;
- extended driveway;
- original design elements, fixtures, and machinery in the elevators, including drive shed with lower "boot" tank and grate, truck scales, man-lifts, hopper scales, gerber wheels, grain chutes, upper floor mezzanines, and grain bin levers;
- Alberta Wheat Pool logos on the north, south, and east walls.

Office:
- mass, form, and style;
- wood siding;
- original windows and doors.

Engine shed:
- mass, form, and style;
- wood frame construction;
- original design elements, fixtures, and machinery.


Location



Street Address:
Community: Rowley, Near
Boundaries: Plan RY428 Railway and Station Grounds in NW 21-32-20-W4
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 7
Structures: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
4
4
20
20
32
32
21
21
12 (ptn.)
13 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
RY428 (ptn.)

N/A


Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
51.761897 -112.788319 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: 2010/06/15

Historical Information

Built: 1917 To 1917
Significant Date(s) 1917 To 1989
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: F.W. McDougall Construction Co.
Context: HISTORICAL CONTEXT

In the spring of 1909, Premier Rutherford of Alberta announced his government's commitment to a vast program of railway expansion in Alberta. To do this, the government offered to guarantee the bonds of major railway companies to the extent of $20,000 per mile of completed track. Taking advantage of this, the Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR) decided to incorporate several subsidiary companies to undertake specific lines in Alberta. One of these was the Alberta Midland, which was chartered by the provincial government in May 1909 to build a line from Vegreville south through Drumheller to Calgary. One purpose was to open up new land for farming; another was to tap into the coal reserves around Drumheller, which had hitherto been unavailable to the Canadian Northern or any of its subsidiaries.

By the end of 1911, the line was completed, and along it several stations were built. One of these, 25 kilometres north of Drumheller, was called Rowley, after the Manager of the Calgary branch of the Canadian Bank of Commerce, the Bank having provided substantial backing to the Canadian Northern. Behind the station, a townsite was subdivided, and, before long, a community evolved, the main purpose of which was to provide services to the surrounding hinterland, where mixed farming was the economy. It was essential therefore that Rowley be provided with grain elevators, and, in 1915, the first one was built by the Home Grain Company. It was apparently not well constructed however, for, shortly after its completion, it collapsed. Though rebuilt soon after, another mishap occurred when an annex burst, and, not long after that, the elevator burned down.

In the wake of the Home Company's misfortune, two other elevators were built at Rowley in 1917. These were owned by the National Grain Company and the United Grain Growers (UGG). The UGG had only recently been incorporated as a farmers-owned company, and it was a good time for it to build for, like most of the western prairies, the Rowley district was seeing high yields and much demand during the war years. The National and the UGG had a monopoly on the local grain export at Rowley until 1923, when the Searle Grain Company, formerly the Home Grain Company, decided erect another elevator on the site of their first one at Rowley. At 40,000 bushels, this would be the biggest of the village's three elevators. It was an unusual time to build, for grain prices had recently collapsed in the wake of the post war overproduction of wheat. Also, during 1919-20, both the Canadian Northern and the Grand Trunk (GT) Railways had been taken over by the federal government and consolidated into Canadian National (CN). This meant reduced services, and, in 1922, rail traffic between Vegreville and Drumheller were significantly reduced.

The three grain elevators in Rowley managed to survive however, and, in 1928, the UGG structure was acquired by the Alberta Wheat Pool (AWP). Formed five years earlier, in the wake of plummeting grain prices, the AWP was a business concept advocated by UFA president Henry Wise Wood which saw farmers pool their wheat in a co-operative to ensure that no member would suffer unduly in times of stress. Such stress occurred during the early 1930's, when wheat prices fell to 32 cents a bushel and many farmers could not afford to ship out their wheat. During the end of the decade however, with Great Britain gearing for war, the demand for wheat began to rise, and, with it, productivity on the Canadian prairies. In 1940 therefore, the AWP decided to twin its elevator in Rowley with a new 40, 000 bushel structure.

The three grain elevators at Rowley continued to serve the district long after the war. In 1967, the Searle elevator was sold to the Federal Grain Company, and, in 1972, to the AWP, which then owned all three elevators. In 1989 however, the CN line between Rowley and Morrin was closed down, and farmers soon began trucking their grain to Morrin or elsewhere. The elevators therefore were closed also. They remained standing however, and, in recent years, have been acquired by the Rowley Community Hall Association which is seeking to preserve them.

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE

The historical significance of the Searle Grain Company Grain Elevator Site Complex and United Grain Growers-Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator Site Complex lies in their structural representation of the major economy of Alberta for most of the twentieth century: the growth and export of grain, and mainly wheat. They are also important as landmarks in Rowley, providing structural evidence of the community dating back to 1917, when the district was prospering. The first elevator represents the main source of that prosperity, and the three of them the economy of the district in the years that followed.

(Historical Interest Summary)

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-1359
Designation File: DES 2119
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 22616
HS 68224
HS 15652
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. 2119)
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