Renovations on the elevator in Sexsmith will begin this June
By Diego Flammini
A piece of an Alberta town’s past will receive some upgrades beginning this spring.
The Sexsmith and District Museum Society will start renovating the town’s last remaining grain elevator on June 3. The roof will be the first part of the elevator to receive upgrades on its way to becoming a tourist attraction.
The structure will also receive fresh paint, new windows and other structural upgrades in the future.
The museum originally purchased two Alberta Wheat Pool elevators for preservation, but one burnt down in 2015.
Keeping the final elevator intact is important to honouring the community’s history, said Florence Blais, the elevator preservation coordinator with the museum.
“Sexsmith was the grain capital of the British Empire from 1938 to 1947 for 10 years consecutively, transporting more grain than any other area in the Empire,” she told Farms.com. “It’s last elevator on what we called elevator row because at one time we had nine elevators there.”
The project also pays homage to the unique character of historic elevators.
Many modern grain elevators look similar. Keeping this wooden structure standing will allow visitors to travel back in time, Blais said.
“Because society moves so quickly and very few people consider how we got to where are today, it’s important to keep our history alive,” she said. “Everything inside the elevator is original, so visitors will really get a sense of how elevators used to run.”
The community is also contributing to the elevator project.
The Alberta Historical and Resources Foundation is helping pay for the roof’s re-shingling. The Museum Society has also raised about half of the $200,000 necessary for fresh paint in 2020. The local council is contributing a Major Capital Grant of $50,000 to the new paint.
The renovation will cost nearly $750,000 and take about five years to complete, Blais said.
But visitors will be able to start visiting the elevator in about three years.
“We want to display everything to its best capacity,” Blais said. “We’re going to be gathering stories and pictures from the farming community. There’s been talks of putting a small flour mill inside and using local wheat and grains to make flour."
Alberta Wheat Pool elevator in Sexsmith, Alta.
Jenn Tanaka photo