06
Jul
09

A Drive In The Alberta Countryside

Which way to go ????

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I’ve lived in Alberta since 1979, and I’m no farm kid, but I can’t remember the crops ever being this short. Normally by this time the wheat fields are knee-high and swaying back and forth in the prairie breeze; but not this year. All the crops we drove by were no taller them six inches! Farmers who were smart and purchased crop insurance will be covered for part of their crop. Those farmers who didn’t get crop insurance will be out thousands of dollars and may have to pack it in, period. Experts in the weather say this could be the start of a cycle in the prairies of no rain and extreme drought.

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Farmers are selling their cattle right now, due to no crop or food to feed them this year. One farmer I heard on the radio said he couldn’t bring himself to drive out and have a look at his cattle because he was sure they had been losing weight.

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The Stettler Steam Train company purchased the P&H elevator in Stettler a few years back ensuring its survival. Sadly, not many of the wooden prairie elevators have survived the changes to the new grain handling system, which is huge concrete inland terminals. One inland terminal replaced 20-35 wooden elevators. Now farmers have to drive their grain not to their local elevator/town, but 35-100kms to their not so local inland terminal. Many towns depended on the tax revenues from the elevators and they too have disappeared. Once numbering 6600 elevators across the prairies, fewer then 400 stand as a reminder of our past heritage. Many that are still standing are in rough shape and time will surely not be kind to them and the numbers will drop to possibly a couple 100.

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Legacy Junction Inland Terminal near Camrose…..ugly!

inland terminal

A Cargill Inland Terminal in Vegreville.

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Meeting Creek has one of the only metal clad Alberta Pacific Grain elevators left in the prairies; a rare sight.

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Red elevators are also very hard to find in Alberta, possibly fewer than 20 exist in the whole province.

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This elevator was moved to a farmer’s farm probably 30 years ago from one of the neighboring towns near Ryley. It surely would have disappeared had it been left in town.

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Mundare Elevator

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The Bardo elevator to me is possibly the best elevator in Alberta. It was shut down in the late 70’s and has stood the test of time and somehow all of its out buildings, the office, grain spouts and the drive shed are still intact.

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Only 10 of these “Buffalo” grain elevators were ever built by the Alberta Wheat Pool company.

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Two black birds take a coffee break on a wire in Meeting Creek.

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1 Response to “A Drive In The Alberta Countryside”


  1. July 8, 2009 at 5:03 am

    Enjoy your time home with Heidi.
    Will follow you when you continue.
    George Z.(Pier 21 Halifax).


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