The Changing Prairie Landscape

Prairie Skyscrapers

 I went for a drive today…to see for perhaps the last time, that which led me to Saskatchewan.

In March of 2002 I began work for Pioneer Grain near my hometown in Manitoba. They sent me west to Saskatchewan 7 months later, where I would spend my remaining years with the company working in an “old” wooden grain elevator. Old…being less than 30 years old. Pioneer owned 2 of those wooden elevators in Morse. They were built by different companies but were built around the same time, sometime in the 80’s. It was an experience, and I’m afraid, one that not many young people will be able to experience anymore. There were 3 of us there,each of us helping out in all areas, from buying the grain and selling the chemicals to cleaning the boot and loading the rail cars. Those elevators had character, and you got to know them pretty well.

Last week I discovered they would be tearing those “old” elevators down. It made me sad for a couple of reasons. First, for sentimental reasons, was that it was where I met my husband…as he hauled in a load of grain in his old International cab over.  And secondly, because it felt like it would be destroying a piece of history.  Every little town in the prairies used to have at least one grain elevator.  And it almost seems as if it’s another nail in the coffin for a town once the elevator is taken away.   The farms are getting bigger, the distances to haul to the elevator are getting farther and the rural populations are getting smaller.  All this reminds me of something one of my college instructors said over 10 years ago – that in the future, big corporations would be buying the farmland and the farmers would become managers of the land they once owned.   As these old prairie skyscrapers continue to be replaced by the bigger terminals, spaced further apart, it makes me wonder if the future’s closer than we think!


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