Restoration work has started on the last remaining grain elevator in Sexsmith. The Sexsmith and District Museum Society plan to fix up the building and turn it into a museum. Project Head Florence Blais says the first phase of the project started on Monday.

“Heritage Roofing started the replacement of the shingles on the roof. They do have the one side off on the west side of the elevator but of course, we’re getting the rain now so weather permitting we’re hoping that that’s completed by the end of the month.”

After the roof is done, Blais hopes to have the outside painted next year as they are still trying to raise the money for that phase.

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. As the last one left, Blais says it’s important to keep this piece of history alive.

“It is part of our heritage [and] it’s a staple of the community. Grain farming has been here for over 100 years and we need to be prideful of where we came from and why we are here today.”

The total price tag on a project like this is currently sitting around $750,000. Between grants and donations, Blais says the group has raised just over $300,000. The full project is expected to take four to five years to complete.