A grain elevator facing an ominous fate was recently memorialized in Elva.
A replica of the Lake of the Woods grain elevator — believed to be the oldest standard-plan elevator in Canada — was unveiled in the community Saturday. The original elevator is destined for demolition this fall.
The re-creation is a true likeness of the original facility, according to Elva resident Donna Anderson, who presented the replica to the town in a ceremony. Having a mini version of the elevator that has served the community since the late 1800s was a welcome addition to the town centre.
"The people of Elva are absolutely thrilled to have the replica," she said.
There were roughly 700 grain elevators in Manitoba in the 1950s. Today, there are fewer than 200 left standing, according to the Manitoba Historical Society’s website.
The replica was a project that former Elva resident Mary Wang started, Anderson said. She conducted the research and secured the designer — David Huish of Gainsborough, Sask. — to create the elevator’s miniature twin.
The elevator was constructed in 1897 by the Lake of the Woods Milling Company, according to the MHS.
The elevator is located on the Canadian Pacific Railway Estevan Subdivision, in the RM of Two Borders. There have been few improvements to the building since the 1890s. It was partially rebuilt with a new foundation and a new scale installed. It was managed by Ogilvie Milling Company after that business merged with Lake of the Woods Company in 1954.
It was purchased by Manitoba Pool Elevators in 1959. By the late 1960s, the elevator was too small compared to the elevators built at that time. In 1968, it closed and was sold to a private farmer.
Purportedly the oldest standing grain elevator in Canada at present, its longevity is proof of the quality craftsmanship that occurred at the time of construction, as it has continued to survive harsh Prairie winters. It outlasted the grain elevator in Fleming, Sask., which was razed in 2010.
Both were purchased by the Commission in 1910. Two years later, the new elevator was leased to the Grain Growers Grain Company and bought outright in 1926. For reasons unknown, the elevator retained the original company name painted on its side.
The Lake of the Woods elevator has not been declared a heritage site, according to Anderson.
"I couldn’t tell you why it wasn’t picked up by the historical society.
"The poor thing has really been let go," she said. "I understand it takes dollars to preserve it. It’s hardly worth saving now. It’s been let go far too long.
"I’m sorry to see it go."