Adding the Donald Hamilton Collection

Lowe Farm, MB grain elevator, Oct 1989.

I was recently contacted by Greg Hamilton, the son of Donald Hamilton. Donald had taken many photographs of grain elevators in the late 1980s and early 1990s in his home province of Manitoba, and ventured into Saskatchewan and Alberta as well. Greg asked if I was interested in scanning those photos for use on this web site. Absolutely!

There are about 20 binders of photographs, organized by elevator company. I have scanned three binders to date and have started adding the photos to this site. In some cases Donald had photos of elevators that weren’t on this site – like Birdtail, Kelloe and Cracknell – and in other cases his photos are adding to existing elevator pages.

Solsgirth, MB, June 1991. Contributed by Donald Hamilton.
Solsgirth, MB, June 1991. Contributed by Donald Hamilton.

I expect it will be a long process to absorb this collection into the site, but Grain Elevators of Canada will be a better place for it and I am very grateful to Greg for allowing these photos to be scanned and shared.

Welcome to Braeden Watson!

I want to give a warm welcome to Braeden Watson, who has joined the GEoC team with a large contribution of grain elevator photos. Braeden sent in a number of Alberta grain elevators that were not already on this site, including Dapp and Leduc among several others.

Please visit his contributor page to see more!

If you would like to contribute your grain elevator photos to be shared here, please contact me at steve@traingeek.ca.

Book Review: The Great Grain Elevator Incident

The Great Grain Elevator Incident book cover
The Great Grain Elevator Incident book cover

The book “The Great Grain Elevator Incident” is a young adult novel by Kevin Miller, book 4 of a series set in the fictional town of Milligan Creek. This book is not specifically about grain elevators but they are prominently featured throughout the book.

The book follows four boys as they “concoct a wild scheme to save their grain elevators”. It follows a familiar real-life theme of a grain elevator company planning to build a large concrete grain terminal outside of town that will make the town’s historic elevators obsolete.

I received this book from the author as a review copy. I enjoyed reading the book and finished it in a couple of hours. The book reads well and the story moves right along, with a few interesting turns that I did not expect. It is not necessary to read the first three books in the series.

The cover illustration was made by Kierston Vande Krats.

The book reminded me in some ways of the well-known Encyclopedia Brown series, with a group of friends working to solve a problem.

I’d recommend this book to anyone with kids in the 8-12 year range, or even for older children or those of us who are “young at heart”.

Buy this book on Amazon

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This means that I earn a small commission when you purchase something from Amazon using my links, at no additional cost to you. I was supplied a review copy at no cost, with no promise for a positive review.

Competition Controversy in Virden

Louis Dreyfus facility near Virden, SK, Apr 2016. Contributed by Steve Boyko.
Louis Dreyfus facility near Virden, MB, Apr 2016. Contributed by Steve Boyko.

One elevator involved in the recent sale of Louis Dreyfus facilities to Parrish & Heimbecker is being challenged by the Canadian Competition Bureau. The Bureau says the former LD facility outside Virden, Manitoba and the P&H elevator in Moosomin, SK were “close competitors”, and this purchase eliminates that competition.

Former Louis Dreyfus facility outside Virden, Manitoba, Apr 2016
Former Louis Dreyfus facility outside Virden, Manitoba, Apr 2016

Because both elevators are now owned by the same company, the Bureau says that they will no longer compete to offer farmers the best prices for wheat and canola, and that will result in lower income for local farmers.

Map of online grain elevators around Virden, Manitoba
Map of online grain elevators around Virden, Manitoba

Looking at a map of grain elevators around Virden, one can see that farmers in the Virden area have few choices for online grain elevators. The closest non P&H elevators to Virden are Cargill in Oakner, Viterra in Souris, Richardson Pioneer in Kemnay, or Cargill in Elva 80 km south.

Farmers between Moosomin and Virden appear to have no real alternative other than to drive considerably farther to one of the other elevators.

The filed notice calls on P&H to sell one of the two elevators and to not acquire any elevator in the area for 10 years unless approved by the Competition Bureau.

See Also

Book Review: Forgotten Saskatchewan

I have been looking forward to Forgotten Saskatchewan for a while now. I’ve followed author Chris Attrell‘s work for some time on his web site, and in fact he used to own grainelevators.ca before I bought it from him. I’ve admired his spectacular photos of abandoned buildings and I expected his book would be great. It didn’t disappoint.

Forgotten Saskatchewan is chock full of images of abandoned Saskatchewan. Its 144 pages feature forlorn old farm houses, weathered grain elevators, rusting vehicles, empty churches and abandoned barns. Each image was carefully created, and often feature starry skies, aurora borealis or eerie lighting.

This book is really a love letter to Saskatchewan, a tribute to the decaying beauty in its disappearing small towns.

The book was published by MacIntyre Purcell and the print quality is excellent. If I ever write a photo book, I would strongly consider this publisher. Each page features a beautiful full colour image with a descriptive caption.

A glimpse into the book

Some of the photos were clearly taken from a drone, giving a unique perspective.

There are a number of grain elevators featured in this book, including Dankin, Bents and Neidpath.

If you’re here on this site, you would probably like Forgotten Saskatchewan. You can buy it on Amazon, through McNally Robinson or at Chapters/Indigo.

This post contains affiliate links, which pay me a small commission if you purchase something through the link, at no additional cost to you.

Gone But Not Forgotten – Book Review

This is a review of the book “Gone But Not Forgotten: Tales of the Disappearing Grain Elevators” by Elizabeth McLachlan. The book is a collection of stories about grain elevators and the towns they are/were in.

The 28* stories cover all sorts of tales about grain elevators, from bringing grain to market through elevator fires and other mishaps, and include such titles as “Lead in Her Pants” and “Dam(n) Progress”. In general the stories are amusing, touching, and sometimes poignant.

* there are actually 29 stories; the last is Ms. McLachlan’s own story of being married to an elevator agent.

The book is illustrated by historical photos as well as some contributed by noted photographer Chris Stackhouse, including the stunning cover photo of the grain elevator on a farm near Woodhouse, Alberta.

You can buy the book on Amazon or your local bookstore, or maybe find it in your local library.

A Manitoba Grain Elevator Tour – Elva to Cartwright

In August 2019 I set out to revisit many grain elevators in western Manitoba. I wanted to fly my drone over some of them to record them from a different viewpoint. In part 1 I visited McConnell through Beulah, and in part 2 I visited Harmsworth to Elva.

After Elva, I visited nearby Cameron.

Cameron

The grain elevator at Cameron, Manitoba
The grain elevator at Cameron, Manitoba

The elevator at Cameron is a really unique elevator. Not only is it a Lake of the Woods elevator, rare in the province, but it is located in the middle of a field, with no other buildings nearby.

Don’t confuse this elevator with the rural municipality of Cameron, which included Hartney, Lauder and a few others. This was a “station” on the CPR. I’m not sure that there was ever anything here but a grain elevator and a rail siding.

Still advertising Five Roses Flour
Still advertising Five Roses Flour

The elevator is looking a little more worn since I visited it in 2014. In particular, the driveway has collapsed.

A windswept tree, and Cameron.
A windswept tree, and Cameron.

Cameron was one elevator that I really wanted to fly my drone around. I did put my drone up to take some photos, but I didn’t fly it very far due to the continuing high winds. I was nervous about flying too far away.

Coulter

Coulter's grain elevator
Coulter’s grain elevator

Coulter is not far from Cameron. It has one elevator, still looking OK from the outside but starting to show its age. The annex has a real lean to it, but it doesn’t look like it is leaning more than when I last saw it in 2014.

The McKinney Farms elevator in Coulter, MB
The McKinney Farms elevator in Coulter, MB

Almost all of the elevators I am writing about in this post were on the CP Lyleton subdivision, which ran from Deloraine to Lyleton.

Dalny

The Dalny grain elevator
The Dalny grain elevator

I didn’t get close to the Dalny elevator. I photographed it from nearby grid roads and carried on. By this time I was starting to get nervous about how much light I would have left, so I decided to accelerate my pace to ensure I would still have daylight by the time I got to Holmfield.

Waskada

Waskada, MB
Waskada, MB

The grain elevator in Waskada is located within the town itself… definitely not a drone flying area. It looks pretty well kept and could very well still be in use for storage.

The elevator still bears a painted Agricore logo, from the brief period between 1998 (when Manitoba Pool Elevators merged with the Alberta Wheat Pool) and 2007 (when the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool bought Agricore United and became Viterra).

I didn’t stay too long in Waskada. It’s a bustling little town, enriched by the nearby Bakken shale oil fields.

Goodlands

Railway Avenue in Goodlands, Manitoba
Railway Avenue in Goodlands, Manitoba

The charming town of Goodlands hosts one elevator, another former Manitoba Pool grain elevator. The elevator seems to be in good shape and maintained.

I really considered flying my drone here, but it was still quite windy and I was concerned about drifting over the town, so I decided not to.

Deloraine

The grain elevator outside Deloraine, 2019
The grain elevator outside Deloraine, 2019

I didn’t get close to the grain elevator outside Deloraine on this trip. I had photographed it pretty extensively in 2018 so I didn’t feel the need to do it again in 2019. It would have been a good candidate for a drone flight, though.

Ninga

Track and a grain elevator in Ninga, Manitoba
Track and a grain elevator in Ninga, Manitoba

I’ve always been fond of the little town of Ninga, Manitoba. Mostly it is because of the sign you see as you drive into the town: “There will always be a Ninga”. Such a bold statement for a plucky prairie town.

There will always be a NINGA
There will always be a NINGA

I spent a bit of time driving around the town – it doesn’t take long! – and photographing the elevator. As grain elevators go, it’s not the most attractive, being a late Manitoba Pool “box” design with the elevating machinery visible on top, like Elie, Virden-Hargrave and a few others.

Overgrown elevator siding in Ninga
Overgrown elevator siding in Ninga

After leaving Ninga, I could have gone into Killarney to photograph the elevators there. The light was definitely failing and I really wanted to fly my drone at Holmfield, so I pressed on. I actually did dip into Killarney, to grab some food at the campground restaurant near the highway. YUM.

Holmfield

Aerial view of Harrison Milling in Holmfield, MB
Aerial view of Harrison Milling in Holmfield, MB

I love the town of Holmfield. Not only does it have the Harrison Milling facility – the oldest flour mill in western Canada – with its two grain elevators, it has a number of interesting old buildings in the town.

Holmfield is by no means a ghost town, with quite a few people living there and actively maintaining and improving their houses. It’s worth a visit, even though it’s a bit of a drive off the highway.

I thought it would be easier to fly my drone there, as Holmfield is in a bit of a dip in the prairie. I was right – it was definitely less windy there than it had been earlier in the day. I flew my drone around to take some photos from various angles while there was still some light to photograph with.

Aerial view of Harrison Milling in Holmfield, MB
Aerial view of Harrison Milling in Holmfield, MB

It was definitely getting dark. The sun was below the horizon and time was of the essence. I got the photos I wanted, and headed for home.

I couldn’t resist taking this photo from a nearby bridge. It was inspired by a photo Mark Perry took a few years before.

Diamond view of Holmfield
Diamond view of Holmfield

I was pleased with the photos I took in Holmfield. I’m glad I hurried a bit past a few other towns to ensure I got to Holmfield in time.

Cartwright

Cartwright, MB grain elevator
Cartwright, MB grain elevator

I stopped briefly in Cartwright en route to Winnipeg. It was definitely dark by this time, so I set up my tripod and took a long exposure photo to record the elevator there.

I had considered stopping at Clearwater, but by the time I got near to it, it was quite dark and I was very tired. Onward to home.

Further Reading

You can read the railway-related parts of my grain elevator tour over at Traingeek.ca.

Thanks for reading!