Wooden grain elevators have largely disappeared across the Western Canadian prairies.
But an elevator that was once central to life in the village of Lougheed, Alta. was recently restored to its original, vibrant look.
“The museum itself is a little village. There’s a log hall, church, two schools, an oldtimers’ cabin, other buildings and machinery—and the elevator sits across the road. You can’t miss it,” explains Janice Bishop, secretary and treasurer of the Iron Creek Museum Society board.
“It gives visitors an idea of what life used to be like for the people who came and first settled in this area.”
The Canadian Pacific Railway established ready-made farms for settlers in the area surrounding the grain elevator in the early 1900s, helping to develop the west.
Lougheed’s grain elevator was last painted white in 2001 before it was purchased by the Iron Creek Museum Society, ready for restoration.
“The new tin is very noticeable; you can see it for miles. The bright orange we chose is the original colour of the Pioneer grain elevator,” says Bishop.
“We also had a plaque put on the door listing all the grain elevator operators from 1920 to when it closed down in 2000,” she adds.
The museum sees tourists and locals in the summer and is generally closed in the winter, although it can be opened for visitors or events during the offseason.
“None of the buildings are heated, but at Christmas time we’ve fired up the woodstove in one of the schools and held a Christmas concert in the school. We trek through the snow to get there and it’s really quite fun watching the kids perform,” Bishop explains.
Enbridge is committed to improving the quality of life in communities near our operations, and our recent $2,000 grant will contribute to the cost of the new tinning and support Iron Creek Museum’s dedication to preserving history.
The grain elevator, along with seven other historic buildings and numerous artifacts belonging to the Iron Creek Museum, paints a vivid picture of how life once was out on the prairies and allows locals and tourists alike to learn about the area’s rich history.
“I’ve been here over a decade now. My family has farmed going back generations, so when I moved here it was kind of the same thing,” says Bishop.
“I became involved with the Museum Society to help develop a sense of community. You do what you can where you are to make you feel like you belong.”