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Key Number: HS 15652
Site Name: Rowley - Searle Grain Elevator
Other Names:
Site Type: 0416 - Mercantile/Commercial: Storage Elevator


ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
32 20 4

Address: Railway Avenue
Number: N/A
Street: N/A
Avenue: Railway
Town: Rowley
Near Town:


Type Number Date View


Style: Single Wood Elevator
Plan Shape: Rectangular
Foundation: Basement/Foundation Wall Material: Concrete
Superstructure: Nailed Frame
Superstructure Cover: Wood: Clapboard (Bevel or Drop Siding)
Roof Structure: Medium Gable
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes: Elevator: Water Shed Skirting: Wood
Elevator: Logo: Searle
Elevator: Paint Colour: CPR Red
Elevator: Loading Spout: Hopper Car
Elevator: Driveway Door: Sliding Door: Double Plywood
Elevator: Driveway: Extended Driveway Exit
Elevator: Driveway: Earth Ramp
Exterior: South grain annex.
Interior: Capacity of elevator and annex 69,000 bushels.
Environment: Located on Railway Avenue, west side of tracks.
Condition: Repair: 3 JUN 1981.
Alterations: N/A


Construction: Construction Date:
Constructed (according to Judy Larmour)
Usage: Usage Date:
Grain Elevator
Owner: Owner Date:
Searle Grain Co.
Federal Grain Co.
Alberta Wheat Pool
Architect: N/A
Builder: N/A
Craftsman: N/A
History: Frank Swallow was the elevator agent for Home Grain. 1916 - Home Grain elevator burnt to the ground, replaced with new elevator. Year that Home Grain was switched over to Searle was unavailable. SEARLE GRAIN CO. This 44,000 bushel elevator was built by Searle Grain Co. in 1923 to replace their 1915 elevator that had been built by Home Grain Co.  A 25,000 bushel balloon annex was built in 1939 on the south side.  The elevator was transferred to Federal Grain Co. in 1967, and to the Alberta Wheat Pool in 1972.  The annex was removed at an unknown date. *  *  *
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 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 km 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.   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 Railways had been taken over by the federal government and consolidated into Canadian National.   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.   Formed five years earlier, in the wake of plummeting grain prices, the Pool 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 Wheat Pool 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 Wheat Pool, 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 Rowley Grain Elevators lies in their structural representation of the major economy of Alberta for most of the 20 th 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.       
* *
REMARKS :    Three of the few surviving representatives of what was the major economic activity in Alberta.   They also represent what was the economic heart of the Rowley district for most of the 20 th century.


Status: Status Date:
Designation Status: Designation Date:
Provincial Historic Resource
Register: N/A
Record Information: Record Information Date:
T. Gilev 2001/11/30


Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-0872
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