Last of their grain


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June 28, 2016 12:00 AM

This elevator in Rex, Sask., is one of just 440 wooden grain elevators and annexes left in Saskatchewan. It will, because of condition issues, be torn down during the winter months.

Some see them as icons of the Prairies, and not only are they endangered, but they may be on the brink of extinction.
According to Jim Pearson’s website, a man who has written several volumes on the subject, there are only 440 wooden grain elevators and annexes left in Saskatchewan as of last year.
The number of these “vanishing sentinels” as he calls them, may be reduced by one more as landowners in Rex, Sask.—about 10 miles north of the Border City—contemplate what to do with an old elevator standing on their property.
“It was a bit depleted anyway, and so the guy that actually owns the elevator, he took his generator and seed cleaning plant out and left us with an elevator to clean up and do whatever we got to do with it,” said Foster Parkinson, whose daughter and son-in-law bought the section and a half of land that’s home to the elevator.
Parkinson said it’s a peculiar situation in that his family bought the land with an elevator sitting on it, both of which used to belong to the Pioneer Elevator company.
The person they bought the property from had purchased both land and structure from Pioneer, before selling the elevator to Parkinson’s neighbour to store grain in.
The land was then sold to Parkinson’s family, but the neighbour still owns the elevator, and after an accident that damaged the building, the neighbour stopped using it for storage and left the structure to Parkinson’s son-in-law to take care of how he sees fit.
“They had an accident; there’s a sand pit over there and there used to be a track-hoe to load sand, and some guys started up the track-hoe and wrecked the elevator a bit, the entrance part, so it’s not worth any value anymore,” said Parkinson.
“My son has Facebook and some people said the wrecked elevator has neighbours up in arms, but I think somebody just suggested they’re going to lose a historical landmark, but the trouble with a historical landmark is it’s fading fast anyway because it’s depleting so bad—nobody ever kept it up.”
The elevator is so depleted, in fact, that Parkinson said he’s surprised lightening hasn’t knocked it down already.
Without any help from natural disasters, it’s up to Parkinson and his son-in-law to figure out a way to take the building down.
He said it’s close to a gas well, so they’re not sure if burning is an option and permission from Husky Oil will be necessary before anything can begin.
“We’d like it out of there, put it that way; how we get it out is another thing, we haven’t gotten that far,” he said.
“It would have to be in the wintertime when there’s lots of snow cover, and it really needs to be laid down before you can burn it because burning it standing up is a little on the dangerous side.”
So while the fate of this prairie sentinel has been determined, just when and how it will vanish has yet to be.

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