One group in Sexsmith is preparing to restore a piece of the town’s history. The Sexsmith and District Museum Society will begin fixing up the town’s last remaining grain elevator on June 3, 2019. Volunteer Florence Blais says the group saved the elevator at the last minute from being torn down.
“It all started when Alberta Wheat Pool was going to tear down the elevator in Sexsmith and the museum society wrote a letter asking if they could purchase it to fall under the historic resources that are already being taken care of by the museum society. They did get the letter three days prior to the demolition of the elevator.”
For improvements to the outside of the building, Blais says they are looking at a cost of $650,000 to $700,000. Through fundraising and a matching grant from Alberta Historical Resources, the group has enough money to put a new roof on. That phase of the project will start in June. Phase two which will be painting the exterior of the building will take place in the summer of 2020.
Sexsmith was the grain capital of the British Empire from 1938 to 1947. This is one of only four original elevators left in northern Alberta. One elevator in Sexsmith burnt down in January 2015 and a second one was demolished in March of that year. Blais says its important to keep this last piece of history alive.
“Farming has been a staple in the County of Grande Prairie for many years; for over 100 years. Being the capital of the British grain empire as well as commending all of the farming and ranching families from the area. It has a great historical significance. The essence of the Town of Sexsmith, it is one of the icons we have left in the region.”
Blais hopes to have the exterior as well as the interior cleaning done in three to four years. When that is complete, around a year later, the elevator will become a museum.