Old Flour Mill
A business that was not located in Elk Point but one that was of great importance to the early settlers of our district was the Wiebe's Flour Mill in Vermilion. Flour, during the early years was very much needed by the settlers and since there was no railroad nearby to haul it in from the large flour mills in Edmonton and Calgary, the early settler's had no choice but to freight their wheat to Vermilion and have it milled there.
The Wiebe Flour Mill was founded in 1910 by William R. Wiebe and his father Percy. It remained a family oriented business during the many years it was in operation. In later years William Wiebe's two sons, Orlando and Art helped to keep this thriving business in operation. During the middle 1930s they had to rely on some outside help as Art was unavailable during the winter months, his time was being spent in Chicago, where he played defence for the Chicago Black Hawks of the National Hockey League.
The Wiebe Flour Mill attracted business from an area of about sixty miles surrounding the town of Vermilion. Many settlers, including those settled in the Elk Point district, patronized this mill for many years. These settlers would load up their wagons with wheat one day and then start out bright and early the next morning for Vermilion. The trip usually required two days each way to complete and sometimes even longer if the flour mill had a lineup of customers. Arriving during the late evening, after a long slow trip, the settlers would leave their teams at one of the many livery barns in Vermilion, then seek lodging in one of Vermilion's three hotels or at the home pf some acquaintance. The following morning they would have their wheat milled into flour providing the mill was not overcrowded. If everything went well they were able to leave for home during the early afternoon. Usually they tried to make it half way home the first day - in 1ater years the Monkman store site served as a stopover, since it was located half way between Vermilion and Elk Point. Right from the very start, the Wiebe flour mill proved to be a thriving firm, one that was also of great importance to the many other business firms in Vermilion as well. The manv settlers who patronized the mill also left many dollars with the other places of business while there.
Sometime after 1910, the Wiebe family established a second flour mill. This one was located at Myrnam, 32 miles north west of their original Vermilion mill. On August 3. 1914, ill fortune struck their thriving Vermilion mill and it was destroyed by fire. The Myrnarn mill was then closed and moved into Vermilion where it resumed business on the burned out site.
Besides serving the many early settlers surrounding Vermilion, this mill also played a vital role during and after World War II. During the war years this mill was engaged full time (24 hours per day). Flour was shipped overseas to the United Kingdom and later to many other countries in Europe as well as the Middle and Far East. The Wiebe Flour Mill used the "Acme" label on all their products and for many years they were well known locally and abroad.
In later years the home market was taken over by the much larger mills located in Edmonton, Calgary and Moose Jaw. With the arrival of the railroad into Elk Point in 1927, mills such as the Robin Hood Mills, the Maple Leaf Milling Co. and the Purity Flour Mills began shipping flour to our district in carload lots. Our early settlers no longer had reason to make the long slow trips to Vermilion in order to have their wheat milled into flour. Consequently, this drop off in business eventually resulted in the closure of the Wiebe Flour Mill.
During the many years the Wiebe Flour Mill was in operation. it served the district well. Its closure was very much regretted.