Grain elevators a significant part of Sexsmith's story: historian
Although the grain elevator destroyed by fire in Sexsmith last Tuesday was slated to eventually be brought down, it’s still being considered a loss of a historic landmark.
Historian David Leonard moved to Sexsmith in 1947, when it was at its peak as the grain capital of the British Empire and led all inland terminals in exports with nine grain elevators.
He argues the elevators are not only a symbol of the town, but also the Canadian Prairies as a whole.
“For years and years, going through Alberta and Saskatchewan and the rural areas, you’d always see these little rows of elevators dotting the skyline; in fact, you could probably judge how big a community was by the number of elevators it had.”
Only 118 still exist in Alberta, when there once were more nearly 1,800.
Leonard argues that major losses to fire are not new to the town, as three other grain elevators were burned down between 1959 and 1962, along with the curling rink.
Most recently, a fire destroyed the old lumber yard building and most of the Catholic church in 2009.
Leonard is hopeful that the elevator adjacent to the one lost will be preserved.
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