Sunday, July 23, 2017

Ode to the Meadows, Man. Wood Elevator: The Only Things Left Are the Memories

At one time, there were over 5,700 wooden elevators in Canada's prairie provinces.

Called prairie giants or sentinels on the prairies, they handled the grain that helped make Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta a bread basket for the world.

And not only that; the elevators were the social hubs for the area’s farmers, a place to not only take a load of grain, but also to grab a cup of coffee and catch up on the local news.

For residents of those town, the loss of the elevator was more than just economics—it was a real punch in the gut.

It said the town was dying, or soon would be.

Or, as one person said to me: “First it’s the elevator, then the post office, then the school, then the churches. Then what’s left?”

Those classic old elevators have mostly been replaced by modern concrete throughput elevators—giant facilities that can handle large strings of hopper cars and hold many more bushels of grain.

Today there are only 500-600 left, by one estimation, and only half of those are in operation.

The most recent one to be destroyed was at Meadows, just to the west of Winnipeg on the CPR mainline.

For Canadian Railway Modeller Morgan Turney, its destruction is yet another sign of changing times. He wrote to following ode to the Meadows elevator.

Remembering Meadows

I don't know what it is about the name 'Meadows;’ perhaps it conjures up memories of a very peaceful place.

There isn't much there. A few farms nearby and a homestead just across the street from the Meadows road sign.

But it had a Paterson wooden grain elevator, the first one you came across driving westward down Rosser Road.

Rounding a gentle curve just past Rosser, there were two things you could count on seeing. One was an African-type tree (it looks like it's from the plains of the Serengeti) in the field on the right hand side of
the road.

And in the distance straight ahead, the Meadows elevator.

It served as a familiar landmark to anyone taking the back roads and following the CPR's Carberry subdivision on a railfan adventure toward Portage la Prairie.

Sadly after July 20, 2017, that 'African' tree is all that's left.

Many of us will miss the Meadows elevator. It was the last one standing on that route after Marquette (another Paterson elevator) was pulled down on September 3rd, 2013.

How sad is it that we destroy our iconic history so willfully. So thoughtlessly.

Meadows is gone—forever. All that's left are the photographs.

And the memories.

Photos: Morgan Turney. 

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