Tag Archives: Grain Elevator

Landmarks- The Midnapore Grain Elevator

papercraftelevatorPapercraft replica of the Alberta Wheat Pool Elevator in Midnapore in front of a copy of the Midnapore I Design Brief 1975. Papercraft elevator designed and built by Jim Pearson of Vanishing Sentinels. Available for purchase at http://vanishingalberta.ca/crbst_29.html

There’s something about grain elevators. It should only be fitting that the thing which kicked off this whole project was my pursuit of memories of the old Unifeed elevator. Looking back, these old buildings are emblematic of everything I’ve discussed here: changing times, urbanization and the ethereal meaning of landmarks. And while much of what I’m exploring in these articles has been largely ignored, elevators have been exhaustively explored by a whole assortment of people: writers, photographers, artists, teachers, academics, journalists. They have appeal.

From studying old Midnapore, and specifically the feed elevator demolished in 2004, it quickly became apparent that that elevator, a landmark for everyone I knew who grew up anywhere in The Deep South in the 1990s, wasn’t always alone beside the railroad tracks. A second smaller elevator occupied the space just north of the feed elevator, where Fish Creek Nissan is now. And this second elevator was actually older and arguably more iconic. Of course the “second elevator”, having been demolished in July 1989, before me or most of my family or friends lived in area, and with no evidence of it in the area, may as well have not existed at all. For my generation, memories of “the grain elevator” were for the Unifeed elevator. So what was this earlier elevator?

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Landmarks- Empty Spaces

“There are a dozen cities where one might choose to grow old, their literary homecomings thick with temptation. Those are the places that seethe with pilgrims, where postcard racks adorn sidewalks and the same bells have rung for centuries, tours of significant sites available hourly. But those cities tastes of their own indigestion, wield a language lethargic with habit. They are complacent; their bones crack when they shift”- Requiem (excerpt), Aritha van Herk from In This Place (2011)

Is there a better description of everything the Canadian city of Calgary, Alberta is not? Dynamic, with seemingly boundless growth and aspiration, the city’s “Be Part of the Energy” campaign goes far beyond the region’s strong relationship to the oil & gas industry, to deeply reflect its identity. But beyond the reverential tone of  Requiem’s opening stanza, beyond the sense of gratitude Calgarians surely have for the economic windfall of a place which can afford to be so busy and constantly reinvent itself, there emerges a concern for what is lost and a desire to understand what is happening. As van Herk continues,
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