Constructed in 1895 at Fleming, Saskatchewan, this precious grain elevator was one of several built by the Lake of the Woods Milling Company to supply its Ontario-based flour mills.

The architectural value of the elevator was in its materials and form. It was distinguished by its hip-roof which was a design variation used between 1880 and 1910, the formative years of our grain handling system. This type of elevator, with its shorter stature and narrow cupola, was superseded by the standard-plan, sloping-shoulder style which became common in the decades to follow. The constructor employed traditional wood-crib construction which consists of boards laid horizontally and nailed together.

The Fleming Grain Elevator also was significant because of its association with development of our grain handling system. The first elevators appeared on the prairies in the early 1880s following arrival of a national railway. By 1911, Canada was the world's largest wheat exporter. Grain elevators mechanised the job of loading grain cars, making the handling of grain cheaper, quicker and less labour intensive. Grain was hauled from nearby farms to the local elevator where it was weighed, cleaned, graded and loaded into rail cars, then transported by rail to grain terminals such as those in Vancouver, British Columbia and what is now Thunder Bay, Ontario.

The Fleming Grain Elevator was a significant heritage asset for agriculture and the people of Saskatchewan. It stood as the oldest standing grain elevator on its original site in Canada. The elevator was designated a Provincial Heritage Property by the Saskatchewan government in 2006, four years before its great loss as a memorable heritage asset in the province. It was burned to the ground by vandals in February of 2010, soon after having been rehabilitated by the Fleming community.

Over three thousand grain elevators once stood in Saskatchewan, anchoring the main streets of every town and village. Most have since been demolished as the industry has adopted a more centralized grain handling system that is now charaterized by high-volume, inland terminals. Despite diminishing numbers, some traditional grain elevators continue to stand as reminders of western development and Saskatchewan's agricultural identity.

Image and information: govSK