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Key Number: HS 63205
Site Name: Mayerthorpe - Federal Grain Co. Elevator / Alberta Wheat Pool Grain Elevator
Other Names:
Site Type: 0416 - Mercantile/Commercial: Storage Elevator

Location

ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
57 8 5


Address: 4715 - 52 Avenue
Number: N/A
Street: 47
Avenue: 52
Other:
Town: Mayerthorpe
Near Town:

Media

Type Number Date View
Source

Architectural

Style: Single Composite Wood Elevator
Plan Shape:
Storeys:
Foundation:
Superstructure:
Superstructure Cover:
Roof Structure:
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes:
Exterior: N/A
Interior: N/A
Environment: N/A
Condition: N/A
Alterations: N/A

Historical

Construction: Construction Date:
Construction Started
1966/01/01
Usage: Usage Date:
Grain Elevator

Owner: Owner Date:
N/A

Architect: N/A
Builder: N/A
Craftsman: N/A
History: Annex built in 1959.

D-2096 - ALBERTA WHEAT POOL, MAYERTHORPE

HISTORICAL CONTEXT: When the Canadian Northern Railway arrived at the site of Sangudo in 1913, much land to the northwest across the Pembina River was opened up for homesteading. When the CNoR crossed the Pembina in 1920 and made its way to Whitecourt the following year, much more land became viable for agricultural settlement. As the rail grade was built, the small stores and post offices in the area called Greencourt, Rochefort, and Mayerthorpe disappeared, with new communities with the same names springing up along the rail line. Of these, the largest to emerge was Mayerthorpe, which remained a hamlet until incorporated as a village in 1927.

Though a small community, Mayerthorpe served a large hinterland of agricultural and lumbering interests. The first grain elevator actually preceded the arrival of the first train, this being a 25,000 bushel structure constructed by the Alberta Pacific Grain Company in 1920. In 1926, a 30 bushel Northern Grain Company elevator was constructed, and in 1928, five years after the founding of the Alberta Wheat Pool, the Pool built a 35,000 structure in Mayerthorpe. This was destroyed by fire the following year, but was immediately rebuilt, with a 35,000 bushel annex constructed in 1940.

The Wheat Pool elevator reflected the Mayerthorpe farmers' participation in the provincial farmers' co-operative movement in Alberta, represented by the United Farmers of Alberta. Co-operative grain marketing had long been promoted by the UFA's Henry Wise Wood. A major complaint of the farmers had been the control exercised by independent grain companies which could fix prices at their will. As a result of this, and the extreme fluctuations in the international demand for grain, farmers had often gone from prosperity to bust within short periods of time. According to Wood, the answer lay in a co-operative through which farmers could pool their grain and have it sold at opportune times and share equally in the profits. He managed to convince the UFA of this, and, when the Alberta Wheat Pool was formed in 1923, Wood became its first president. Before long, Alberta Wheat Pool elevators were to be found in most farming communities which had rail access. They eventually became the largest grain company in the province.

In 1966, the Pool constructed a new 53,000 bushel elevator in Mayerthorpe with a 60,000 bushel annex. A few years later, the 1929 Pool elevator was demolished. By this time, the only local competition was from the Federal Grain Company, which maintained two elevators. The Pool elevators however had proven more popular. A report from the publicity department of the Pool indicates that 7,569,152 bushels were handled by this company from Mayerthorpe between 1932 and 1977. In 1976-77 alone, 645,686 bushels were reported to have been handled. In recent times, however, the elevator went into disuse, the result of improved highway transportation and large concrete grain elevators springing up in centralized locations. The 1966 Pool elevator and annex managed to survive however, and has been taken over by the Country Elevator Society which is seeking to have it designated a provincial historic site.

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: The historical significance of the Alberta Wheat Pool grain elevator in Mayerthorpe lies in its provision of structural evidence of the method of storing and marketing grain in a northern prairie setting during the mid 20th century. The structure is also important in representing the Alberta Wheat Pool, the farmers co-operative which dominated the economy of rural Alberta for much of the 20th century.

==================================

RESOURCE Mayerthorpe Grain Elevator
ADDRESS 4715 - 52 Avenue, Mayerthorpe
BUILT 1966
DESIGNATION STATUS Local Historic Resource

HERITAGE SIGNIFICANCE

In the spring of 1909, the Canadian Northern Railway began construction of a line northwest from Edmonton and past Lac Ste. Anne, which it described as on its way to the Peace River Country. At the same time, surveys for this line were completed all the way to Whitecourt. As this was being undertaken, land along the surveyed rail grade became attractive for homesteading, and so a number of settlers decided to apply for quarter-sections close to where they assumed the railway would extend. It was not until 1915, however, that the railway got even as far as Sangudo on the Pembina River. Its progress beyond this point was somewhat dubious, for the Edmonton, Dunvegan & British Columbia Railway was already entering the Peace River Country from the east, with its line earmarked for Grande Prairie, where the Canadian Northern had earlier pinpointed its destination. Homesteading beyond the Pembina River therefore lost some of its appeal, and some of the early settlers decided to pull up stakes and move elsewhere. One of these was Jimmie Don, who sold his quarter-section at SE28 TP57 R8 W5 to a local trader named Leo Crockett.

Crocket, however, was apparently in full belief that the railway would soon be extended through this quarter-section. The end of World War I had brought an influx of new settlers to the area, and the Canadian Northern was now taken over by the federal government which wanted to expand agricultural settlement northwest of Edmonton. Sure enough, the new Canadian National Railway began to build beyond Sangudo in 1920, and would reach Whitecourt the following year. Crocket, in the meantime, subdivided part of his holding into a townsite on the south side of the railway grade, and soon a number of businesses decided to locate there. He called the community Mayerthorpe after the district postman, Robert Mayer.

Among the necessities for a northern agricultural railway community was a grain elevator, and so, in 1920, the privately owned Pacific Grain Company constructed one on the north side of the railway track. In 1926, the Northern Grain Company added a second elevator. These were prosperous times in rural Alberta, and, in 1928, the collective Wheat Pool built a third grain elevator in Mayerthorpe with a capacity for 35,000 bushels of grain. Though it burned down in 1929, the Wheat Pool quickly replaced it with a similar structure, and, in 1940, supplemented it with a 35,000 bushel annex. In 1966, a new Pool elevator was constructed with a capacity for 53,000 bushels, with the old one serving as its twin. Grain production in the area continued to rise, and, in 1977, over 645,000 bushels were shipped out from the elevators in Mayerthorpe.

Grain production, however, declined after this, as did railway services, as improved highways saw more grain being shipped out by truck. Later years would also see improved local storage facilities, with large concrete bins with hydraulic lifts replacing the old wood frame elevators. In Mayerthorpe, the only elevator facilities to remain were the 1966 Pool structure, along with the 1940 annex. Their historical significance lies in their service as typical prairie grain storage facilities, common throughout the west during the middle part of the last century. They are also significant as district landmarks and structural evidence of the principal economy of the district around Mayerthorpe.

ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE

The Mayerthorpe Grain Elevator was built in 1966 as a twin to an elevator which was constructed in 1929. The earlier elevator has since been demolished. The 1966 elevator has two major components: the elevator leg and the storage annex. It was erected during the early part of the last period of construction of wooden elevators (1960s-1980s). It represents the first stage of the last design development of this type of grain elevator. Storage capacity was maximized, and grain transfer mechanisms were rationalized. The crib construction method was used, which results in solid walls of wood several inches thick. The exterior of the elevator is finished in cedar siding. This type of elevator has never been numerous, and many have already been demolished.

Internal

Status: Status Date:
Active
1997/04/30
Designation Status: Designation Date:
Provincial Historic Resource
2007/07/16
Register: N/A
Record Information: Record Information Date:
T. Gilev 2002/05/28

Links

Internet:
Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-1336
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