Early farm marketing

Marketing of livestock and grain during the early years of settlement didn't create too many problems simply because most of our early settlers had little or no  grain and livestock to dispose of. During the early years, all homesteaders had only one quarter section of land and it took a considerable length of time before they had sufficient land cleared for seeding purposes. The same applied to livestock . It took a while to build up a herd. Eventually the situation changes somewhat and they had surplus grain and livestock which had to be marketed.

Elk Point had no railroad in the early days and therefore no elevators or stockyards were available to accept the settlers' grain and livestock shipments. The settlers had no choice but to freight their surplus grain to either Vermilion or St. Paul. This also applied to their surplus livestock. Small herds of cattle were usually driven onto the river ferry where they crossed the North Saskatchewan River. Larger herds were made to swim across and were then driven to Vermilion where they were sold to the stockyards. Vermilion in the early days was the hub of all surrounding districts and the business places of Vermilion all prospered because of the additional business brought into town.

Local shipping problems were somewhat solved with  the arrival of the railroad in 1927. Soon after, three elevators were built in Elk Point as well as the stockyards a short distance west of the elevators. With this arrangement the farmers no longer had to make long trips to Vermilion or St. Paul in order to dispose of their grain and livestock. The stockyards were divided into pens where cattle, horses, sheep and hogs remained until they were herded into boxcars and shipped to the slaughter houses in Edmonton the next morning. The stock buyers all had their own little offices nearby where they conducted their business with the farmers. Some early stock buyers were Henry Charron and Fred Morusyk from St. Paul and Bob Braithwaite from Dewberry. Tuesdays were designated as stock buying days in Elk Point and  local merchants did a land office business supplying the farmers with their seeds. All early grain and livestock shipments were made by team.  Very few trucks were used for hauling purposes.

A business that was vital to the farmer at that time was the livery barn. After the farmers left their teams during the winter where they were sheltered and fed. During the warmer seasons, farmers left their teams at the tie yards which were located where our fire hall now stands. On many Tuesdays, as many as fifty teams were gathered there at one time.

One of the first livery barns in Elk Point was operated by J.B. Caskey in the old section of town in 1916. Another one doing business during the 1920s was one owned by Hugh McLean.  During the latter part of the 1920s the Drake family Also operated one as well. The last of our livery barns was one operated by John Libich on the street immediately east of the old Imperial Lumber yard.  Mr Libich served the public all through the 1930s and 1940s.

One problem that always existed when many teams gathered in one location was runaways. Often a team would bolt and take off at breakneck speed, sometimes right down the middle of main street, not stopping until they rolled the wagon a considerable distance away.  At times a horse had to be destroyed because of serious injuries he sustained.

During the 1940s and 1950s many truckers started hauling livestock directly to the packing plants in Edmonton.  This took a lot of business away from the railroad. Eventually the railroad stopped hauling livestock and concentrated on grain shipments alone. The stockyards remained unused for a while and then were dismantled. Today there is no sign that they ever existed. The livery barns also closed down about the same time. They were unab1e to attract sufficient business to keep them operating any longer since horse were being replaced by motor vehicles and there was no further need of a livery barn.