Elevator History

Prior to the coming of the railroad in 1927 grain farmers surrounding Elk Point had to haul their grain to either Vermilion or St. Paul. The grain was hauled by wagon or sleigh - very few trucks were used for hauling grain during the early years. Generally, a trip to Verrnilion took two days with an additional two days required for the return trip.

During the fall of 1926 all of our farmers were happy to hear that the Canadian National Railway had decided to extend the railroad from St. Paul to Elk Point and Heinsburg. It meant that no longer would they have to make these long trips.

The following spring, both the United Grain Growers and the Victoria Grain Company started building elevators and had them completed about the same time as the arrival of our first train in September 1927.  Soon after, they were accepting grain shipments. Eugene McDonell was the first U.G.G. grain buyer, and Lawrence Sumpton held the same position with the Victoria Grain Co.  The following spring, the Alberta Pool started to build our third elevator. It was completed during the summer of 1928. The grain buyer for this company was Jack Fitzsimmons. He was the Pool grain buyer until 1936. Mr. Fitzsimmons had the misfortune of being a murder victim. He was shot dead on October  4, 1936 after he answered the call of a screaming woman who was being shot at by a drunken man on our 51st Street.

Shortly after the railroad arrived in Elk Point, the CNR commenced building another branch line from St. Paul to Bonnyville. As the Bonnyville eleyators were still to be built, many farmers from the Bonnyville district patronized our elevators. It was a common sight to see a. many as forty wagons or sleighs converging into Elk Point from the north.

Elk Point has always been a busy grain terminal. In later years many farmers turned from raising crops to raising cattle. Much of the acreage then went into hay crops.

In 1928, the railroad continued on to Lindbergh and Heinsburg and with grain elevators built at both locations much of the grain was diverted there. Farmers had a very difficult time making ends meet during the great economic depression which began during the early 1930s and lasted until the outbreak of World War II in 1939.

During the 1930s, number one wheat fell to 33 cents a bushel with other grades of wheat falling to less than 25 cents per bushel. Number one oats sold for 13 cents a bushel and feed oats sold for as low as 5 cents a bushel. Barley fell to 13 cents a bushel. I remember when one of our local wheat growers delivered 2000 bushels of wheat to one of our elevators. He thought the price was too low and decided to store it there and wait for wheat prices to improve. They didn't, and he ended up losing his entire 2000 bushels because of storage costs.

Elk Point's three grain elevators brought a lot of business to Elk Point during the many years they were in operation. As a young boy of about seven, I watched our three elevators as they were being built in 1927 and 1928. Today I watched all three elevators being toppled and demolished. It was indeed a sad sight, another bit of our local history vanished with their demolition. Apparently they had served their purpose, as all three had been closed for a number of months.

As nothing lasts forever, they had to go.