A Manitoba Grain Elevator Tour – McConnell to Beulah

The first 9 elevators - more to come!
The first 9 elevators – more to come!

I planned a trip through western Manitoba to revisit some grain elevators that I hadn’t seen since 2014. I also wanted to fly my drone over some of the elevators to get a different perspective. I had a “target list” of a few elevators that I thought would look especially good from the air: Elva, Cameron, Beulah and Silverton among others.

I planned a very ambitious tour of 26 grain elevator sites over almost 24 hours. Some of these elevators would just be a “drive past” but I planned more lengthy stays at a few of them.

First part of the plan…

Starting

August 24 was the day chosen for this epic trip. As the day approached, I saw that the weather forecast was not good. It called for showers and a significant risk of thunderstorms, which is not great for photos and definitely not good for flying a drone. Fortunately, the forecast improved on August 23, with only “scattered” showers, but still a risk of thunderstorms. I decided to make the best of it.

I set off from Winnipeg at 2 AM to arrive at McConnell shortly before sunrise. I took highway 16 up through Gladstone, pausing for an early breakfast in Neepawa before continuing on past Minnedosa.

My phone’s map application led me along route 355 straight west from Minnedosa, which was not the best choice. It was a gravel road, which was not the safest to be driving along in pitch darkness. Occasionally the sky to the south would light up with lightning, but at least it wasn’t raining in my area. A better choice to get to McConnell would have been to stay on highway 16 to Shoal Lake, then head south.

McConnell

I arrived at McConnell at 5:42 AM. It was still pretty dark, with only enough light to walk outside without stumbling into a ditch. I set up my tripod to take some long exposure photos of the elevators.

Early morning view of grain elevators at McConnell, MB, Aug 2019.
Early morning view of grain elevators at McConnell, MB, Aug 2019.

By 6:15 AM, it was light enough to fly my drone. I put it up in the air to take some photos, but I wasn’t brave enough to fly it around much in the near dark.

McConnell grain elevators at dawn, Aug 2018.

I didn’t have time to wait for actual sunrise, and there was no guarantee that the sun would actually break through the clouds. It was time to move on…

Shoal Lake

Shoal Lake grain elevators, Aug 2018
Shoal Lake grain elevators, Aug 2018

I passed through Shoal Lake quickly. I had been here in 2014 and again in 2017, so I didn’t feel the need to take many photos. See more Shoal Lake grain elevator photos.

Solsgirth

Solsgirth, MB grain elevator, Aug 2019.

I was looking forward to flying my drone in Solsgirth. The town has a few residents still, but much of it is abandoned. I am not sure if the grain elevator is still in use.

I took a moment to take a selfie to document the occasion.

Solsgirth selfie
Solsgirth selfie

After flying my drone, it was time to move on.

I was slipping a bit behind schedule. Angusville was next on my list, and I thought about skipping it, but Silverton was next and Angusville was directly on the road to Silverton, so… might as well take a few photos.

Angusville

Aerial view of Angusville grain elevator, Aug 2019.

I hadn’t intended on flying my drone at Angusville, but once I drove past the elevator I could see a large area “behind” it that was OK for flying over. I put the drone up and took a few photos from that angle before landing and moving on.

Silverton

Drone view of Silverton grain elevator, Aug 2019. Contributed by Steve Boyko.

Silverton’s unique grain elevator was on my list of “most desirable” elevators to fly my drone near. The chequerboard paint pattern on the elevator and the old style UGG logo are unique in Manitoba and I knew it had a lot of open space around it.

The town itself is well kept, but small. It was quiet there at 8:38 when I arrived (ahead of schedule!) and I took my time to fly the drone across the field in front of the elevator.

I was surprised to see that the annex had been repainted since my 2014 visit, and especially surprised to see that the United Grain Growers logo had been repainted on it. Much credit to the owner(s) for maintaining this beautiful elevator!

Silverton grain elevator, Aug 2019.
Silverton grain elevator, Aug 2019.

Continuing on down highway 45, I came to the lovely town of Russell.

Russell

Russell, MB grain elevator, Aug 2019.
Russell, MB grain elevator, Aug 2019.

The booming town of Russell has one grain elevator remaining, a former Manitoba Pool elevator in the centre of town. I had no intention of flying my drone here, as it’s surrounded by walking paths and houses. As it happened, it started to rain as I parked near the elevator, so flying was definitely out of the question!

I took a few quick photos then hit the road south on highway 16 toward the next few elevators. There was construction on the highway so it was slow going for many kilometres. I don’t understand why the speed limit was so low, given that there was no active work being done and both lanes were open.

Binscarth

Newly expanded Viterra grain elevator at Binscarth, MB, Aug 2019.
Newly expanded Viterra grain elevator at Binscarth, MB, Aug 2019.

Viterra recently expanded their elevator just north of Binscarth with the addition of three huge new bins and associated elevating machinery. I took a photo from the side of the highway to capture this, but I didn’t linger, as it was raining pretty heavily and I wanted to keep moving.

Birtle

Birtle grain elevator in the rain
Birtle grain elevator in the rain

By the time I reached the grain elevator on the outskirts of Birtle, the rain was coming down very hard. I really didn’t want to step outside to take any photos… so I ended up rolling the car window down and taking them from inside the car.

Birtle, Manitoba, Aug 2019
Birtle, Manitoba, Aug 2019

It was definitely not ideal weather for photography now.

There was nothing to do but keep moving on, and hope to break out of the storm at some point. I carefully drove down the gravel road into Birtle, drove through the nice (but wet) downtown, then carried on toward Beulah.

Beulah

Beulah grain elevator, Aug 2019
Beulah grain elevator, Aug 2019

The rain was still coming down hard when I arrived at Beulah. I was disappointed, as I really wanted to fly my drone around this lovely old ex Pool elevator.

There was active thunder and lightning nearby, with only a second or so between the lightning and the sound of thunder, so I knew I was in the heart of the storm and there was no point in lingering here. I briefly considered driving to the nearby town of Isabella to see the two elevators there, but conditions would have been the same there. I decided to continue on my path and hope to get out of the storm’s path.

Stay tuned for part 2 to see Harmsworth, Reston, Sinclair, Tilston and more!

R.I.P. Jim Pearson

Pioneer grain elevator in Vulcan, AB, May 2016
Pioneer grain elevator in Vulcan, AB, May 2016

Jim A Pearson, a giant in the Canadian grain elevator community, has died.

Jim produced several books in the Vanishing Sentinels series, featuring grain elevators in the Canadian prairie provinces, and was the admin of the corresponding Vanishing Sentinels Facebook group.

Jim was a big fan of Star Trek, and designed the USS Enterprise replica in the town of Vulcan, so it seems fitting to post a photo of the grain elevator in Vulcan, Alberta.

I never met Jim, but we corresponded numerous times, exchanging information and photos of grain elevators. He recently produced a book on the remaining grain elevators in Manitoba and gave me a large map in thanks for the information and photos I provided.

Jim will be missed.

End of April Updates

The grain elevators in Elva, MB, Aug 2014. Contributed by Steve Boyko.
The grain elevators in Elva, MB, Aug 2014. Contributed by Steve Boyko.

There were lots of updates and new grain elevators on this site from mid March to now.

I’ve been moving pages from the Manitoba Grain Elevators site to here in preparation for retiring the MGE site. I think I will have to renew the domain name for one more year, but most of the pages on that site redirect to here now.

Thanks for reading, and special thanks to our contributors for submitting photos!

Mid March Updates

Site Growth
Site Growth

There have been lots of additions in the first 11 days of March, 2018! Thanks to Adam Bouvier, Gary Rich, Marc Simpson and Michael Truman for their contributions this month.

The graph at right shows the growth in the site’s size since its resurrection in late November 2017. We have well over 300 grain elevators online, with more to come!

As always, your contributions are welcome – just email me at steve@traingeek.ca and we can get started.

New elevators this month:

 

February 2018 Contributions

I want to thank Gary Rich, BW Bandy and Adam Bouvier for their latest contributions to Grain Elevators of Canada! Click on the elevator(s) below to see the full page with more photos and more information.

Grain elevator in Bardo, AB. Copyright by BW Bandy.
Grain elevator in Bardo, AB. Copyright by BW Bandy.

The Bladworth, SK grain elevator, Feb 2018. Contributed by Adam Bouvier.
The Bladworth, SK grain elevator, Feb 2018. Contributed by Adam Bouvier.

Grain elevator in Chamberlain, SK, Feb 2018. Contributed by Adam Bouvier.
Grain elevator in Chamberlain, SK, Feb 2018. Contributed by Adam Bouvier.

The grain elevator in Churchill, Manitoba, Oct 2006. Copyright by Gary Rich.
The grain elevator in Churchill, Manitoba, Oct 2006. Copyright by Gary Rich.

Craik, SK grain elevator, Feb 2018. Contributed by Adam Bouvier.
Craik, SK grain elevator, Feb 2018. Contributed by Adam Bouvier.

Grain elevator and annex at Davidson, SK, Feb 2018. Contributed by Adam Bouvier.
Grain elevator and annex at Davidson, SK, Feb 2018. Contributed by Adam Bouvier.

Grain elevators in Hazlet, Saskatchewan, Jan 2007. Copyright by Gary Rich.
Grain elevators in Hazlet, Saskatchewan, Jan 2007. Copyright by Gary Rich.

Thanks for contributing! If you would like to contribute, email me at steve@traingeek.ca with photos that you have taken and we can put them up!

 

Welcome, Gary Rich!

New contributor Gary Rich has started to send some photos in for publication here on Grain Elevators of Canada. Please enjoy his photos of Tompkins and Lake Valley, Saskatchewan to start!

Welcome, Gary!

Lake Valley, SK grain elevator, Jan 2007. Copyright by Gary Rich.
Lake Valley, SK grain elevator, Jan 2007. Copyright by Gary Rich.

Grain elevator in Tompkins, SK, Jan 2007. Copyright by Gary Rich.
Grain elevator in Tompkins, SK, Jan 2007. Copyright by Gary Rich.

New contributions

I wanted to highlight a few new contributions to the site, from BW Bandy and Marc Simpson. Click on the photos to see a larger version!

Grain elevator near Loverna, SK. Contributed by BW Bandy.
Grain elevator near Loverna, SK. Contributed by BW Bandy.

Grain elevator in The Pas, MB, Apr 2000. Contributed by Marc Simpson.
Grain elevator in The Pas, MB, Apr 2000. Contributed by Marc Simpson.

The grain elevator in Neville, SK, Nov 2008. Contributed by Marc Simpson.
The grain elevator in Neville, SK, Nov 2008. Contributed by Marc Simpson.

Welcome, Bob St. Cyr!

Grain elevator sunrise at Pontiex, SK. Copyright by Bob St. Cyr.
Grain elevator sunrise at Pontiex, SK. Copyright by Bob St. Cyr.

I’d like to welcome Bob St. Cyr as a new contributor to Grain Elevators of Canada.

Bob is a fine art photographer and has shared a few of his stunning images with this site.

See some of his contributions:

See all contributors