Dick Hunt's Blog

February 3, 2014

Grain Elevators On the Prairies

Filed under: Current — Tags: , , — Dick Hunt's Blog @ 1:08 pm

Grain Elevators On the Prairies
by Dick Hunt, Monday,February 3rd, 2014.

In the early days in Western Canada, Grain elevators became landmarks wherever there were railroads to transport Grain over long distances. They have largely become almost extinct with the improvement of roads, the development of large trucks to transport grain and very large Concrete elevators for storage and transshipment. Various towns across the west have undertaken to rescue and restore some of these landmarks of history. I began to haul grain into each of three of these facilities into and out of Endiang Alberta and adjacent communities in 1936, when I was 16 years of age. In harvest time I hauled grain from the threshing machine when our equipment did custom work for many neighbours over a period of about 30 days each fall. That often kept me driving hard and shoveling grain at top speed each load at the machine to keep ahead of the non stop stream into the wagon.
In Endiang there were three elevators; The Alberta Wheat Pool, the Searle and the Alberta Pacific. I used the ones appropriate for the customers our neighbours patronized. When I drove up the ramp into the elevator, the Operator by hand motions guided me to the right position to enable the hydraulic lift to engage the front wheels and tip the truck to dump the load out of the small opening at the rear of the grain box. That grain was graded according to quality and lifted by endless belt and steel “cups” to be transported to the top of the elevator, then to be dumped into the correct “bins” through pipes that could be swung into position by the operator below. The positioning of the Truck was such that the truck could be weighed when loaded and then when unloaded to determine how many bushels of grain had been brought and careful records were kept.
At the Ranch we too sold grain to those grain companies, but only our wheat.The barley and oats that we grew always went into granaries at home for feeding to our Livestock – cattle and horses. We normally fattened about 450 two year old steers each year for shipping to market in May or June. We also “wintered” our own young cattle from the previous two years of calves to grow them to maturity for marketing. Normally we had over a thousand head of cattle the year round. Dad bought cattle over our own cattle scales from neighbours for fattening. He also bought feed grain from neighbours at market price. All in all, I spent a lot of time and energy shoveling grain each year, up to 200,000 bushels most years. When I finally went to Calgary to join the R.C.A.F. in July 1940, Dad gave me a signed cheque with instructions to have a grain auger shipped home to be installed on the truck to replace me.
At the end of the War, having been married to Ruth Brandon in Calgary while still in uniform, we went back to the Ranch and into partnership with my eldest brother Wilfred. I simply melded into Ranch life and back behind the wheel of the same truck, using the same “Scoop Shovels” and loading grain, but now with a loader to help me. After ten years, during which Ruth and I and our young family became very active in our country Church, the Lord called me to full time ministry in the Anglican Church, I was Licenced as a Lay Minister, we went off to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan for further training and I was Ordained on May 30th 1957. Our Bishop, George Calvert asked us to go to St. George’s Parish in Stettler Alberta where my parents had been married on February 3rd, 1913, with the words, “Dick, we call that Parish the hardest Parish in which to minister in this whole Diocese. I want you to go up there and see what you can do with it. And don’t let it kill you.” He was right. And I am still alive! And in my 94th year.

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