How many times have you seen an old church or other old building and though to yourself, 'it'd be cool to own something like that'. Or is that just me and a few of my friends? I have seen old churches converted to businesses and homes and have seen a few for sale recently. I would totally live in one. Renovated, of course. My family does not get it. I always worry for the future of these old places. If I can't buy all the places...WHO WILL?
What about a grain elevator? How cool would it be to own a grain elevator? They are rapidly disappearing from our prairie landscape and there are only a handful of people who seem to care enough to do something about it. I know a few of these people and recently visited their elevator in the hamlet of Wrentham, AB. Wrentham is located in Southern
Alberta, less than an hour from the US
Border. It is home to a handful of residents, some old buildings, and 2
The elevator in question was built in 1925 by the Ogilvie Flour Mills Company. Not familiar with Ogilvie? Neither was I. When Ogilvie sold off their elevators to the bigger grain companies (Alberta Wheat Pool, United Grain Growers, Saskatchewan Pool, or Federal Grain) in the late 1950s, their comparatively small elevators weren't needed and many were demolished, though a few survived being used as additional storage for the larger companies. The one in Wrentham was purchased by Alberta Wheat Pool in 1958 and served as an annex for their adjacent grain elevator until it was then sold to a local farmer in 1968 for him to use as storage for his grain. It remained in his family ownership until his son was ready to retire in the mid 2000s. This set off a chain of events that lead to the elevator being purchased by the Ogilvie Wooden Grain Elevator Society (OWGES) in December of 2014.
The goal of OWGES is to raise money to preserve this unique elevator and awareness of being the last ‘Ogilvie Flour’ branded wooden grain elevator left in the
. The intention is to restore the elevator on its original site and create a working museum. Additionally, a Provincial Historic designation is pending for this wooden beauty. The once dormant Canadian Pacific Railway line to the north of the elevator was re-instated in the fall of 2016 by Forty Mile Rail, a farmer group based out of Foremost, AB that operates a grain train moving grain from province of Alberta Stirling to Foremost.
|The East and West faces read|
'Ogilvie Flour', still faintly visible.
The South face said 'Miracle Feeds',
a brand sold by Ogilvie.
|Former Alberta Wheat Pool Elevator|
There are a few buildings on 'Main Street', including the Wrentham General Store which was opened in 1923 as a gas station and garage. The second building was added in about 1927 and became the store. The inside still has many of the original features. It received it's historic designation in 1997. It is sad to see it in this condition.
|Wrentham General Store.|
|Formerly Citizens Lumber Co. Ltd.|
|Must love trucks.|
Want more?! Here are some links regarding the Ogilvie Wooden Grain Elevator:OWGES Facebook Page
Off the Beaten Path Aug 2014
CBC Article March 2015
Calgary Herald Article March 2015
Confessions of a Train Geek April 2016
Forgotten Alberta August 2016
Off the Beaten Path July 2017
DanOCan September 2017
I'd like to give a special thank you to Jason Paul Sailer for providing invaluable info about the elevator and OWGES and for answering lots and lots of questions. Also, a shout out to Cody Kapscos and Chris Doering for always answering my questions. You guys are all awesome! If it works out next time I am down there, I'd love to see inside the elevator.
Photos taken on November 25th, 2017.
There used to be a big brick Ogilvie Flour Mill in Winnipeg, in the old part of the city. Probably when it was first built, it was on the edge of town, near the railway lines, of course. I used to drive by it all the time on my way to somewhere or another. Anyway, it was empty and boarded up, of course, and it was demolished sometime in the 1990s, if memory serves me correctly.ReplyDelete
I would not want to buy an old grain elevator (all that grain dust!) but I would gladly buy an old church. I envision starting my own cult, "The Church of Debra."
I imagine it was all the same Ogilvie company? LOL I think an old schoolhouse would suit me best if I was to convert something to a house. The Church of Debra would be an interesting place!Delete
Hey, here's a link about the Ogilvie Flour Mill in Winnipeg:ReplyDelete
Apparently the empty building had a major fire in the late 1990s (that's what I must have been thinking of) but the actual remaining brick ruins were not demolished until 2005. There's a cool video of the implosion on that website.
Wow! I watched the video. It reminded me of when the General Hospital in Calgary was demolished like that. I watched it live on tv, it was 1998.Delete
those trucks were back in the glory days of Ford Blue, now it's mostly a tractor thing for the colorReplyDelete
Hey Adam, I sure don't know much about old vehicles. I imagine those old timers will just rust away.Delete
Nice. Great post as always.ReplyDelete
Thanks BW. I know where I want to go next..Delete
Love this post, Jenn. I hope these old elevators and buildings are preserved for all to see.ReplyDelete
Thank you Marie! I wish they could all be saved. It's too bad that even though the store has historic designation, it has been subject to vandalism and not been treated they way it should be.Delete
I was at Wrentham with Jason Paul Sailer back in 2016 - as you know, you linked to my post - and it's great that they have saved that old Ogilvie. There are a couple of Ogilvies left in Manitoba but they are rare.
Hey Steve! I don't recall ever seeing an Ogilvie before. Glad I saw it, stopped in Skiff also.Delete
The story seems to be.. that the elevators that are not in use are massive liability risks and so very expensive to insure. So for the the last 20 years or so the owners have been compelled to demolish them. There are one or two dedicated companys enthusiastically tearing them down for the valuable barn wood salvage. At the rate they have been coming down it is amazing to me that there are any left even now. Truly a non reversible, terrible shame.ReplyDelete
I agree Frank, sad to see these disappearing.Delete
Indeed. Liability is a major concern for us (OWGES) and making it work when the majority of your income comes from membership fees is tough.Delete
Great post, Jenn! Sounds like OWGES has their work cut out for them and I wish them luck.ReplyDelete
Thanks Michael, I hope they get the money they need. I'd sure like to see the store fixed up too.Delete
Hi Jenn :) I would love to buy an old farm building, church, barn or even a grain elevator to renovate into my home. I think it's important to hold on to the old buildings for historical purposes and keep the history alive. Great post!ReplyDelete
Hi Rain! I just wish a historical designation came with money to fix them up.Delete
Interesting story and background on these grain elevators and buildings. Even though they have historical status obviously they are not monitored for their continuing decaying conditions. I wonder if they have representatives that go out, check on them and then write up a report of the buildings condition. Maye that's asking too much and they don't have any money in reserve to cover those expenses. Just a thought. :)ReplyDelete
Hi Bill, I would say one other than interested citizens checking on them no one really does. Too many are just left to deteriorate.Delete
Great stuff and thanks for the shout out to the OWGES group Jenn! It's a fine looking old building. I worry for that store.ReplyDelete
Thanks Chris, I want an inside tour next time lol! I realllly hope that store doesn't just fade away.Delete
I've always wanted to buy an old church or old barn and make it a our home. We lived in an old walnut drying building that was turned into a residence. It was fantastic. The kitchen was big enough to play basketball in! Bedrooms were huge, both upstairs and downstairs, and it sat on 20 acres! We wanted to buy it but the owner wouldn't sell. Now the house is gone and the acreage is paved and host to a massive RV sales lot. Very sad!ReplyDelete
I love that you shared the history of Olgilvie with us. I hope you win the lottery and save the old buildings!
Hi Toni! That sounds fantastic, such a shame that the owner sold out to an RV lot! Just this morning I saw a listing for a former 2-room schoolhouse....if only!!Delete
Thanks so much for the shoutout to my blog posting and to OWGES. At times it seems like saving an elevator is an impossible task but the first step is in finding a group of people willing to try and that is what we have.ReplyDelete
Of course! I was glad to be in the area and hopefully next time I can meet up with Cody or Jason to see inside. Keep up the great work!Delete