Nanton, Alta.’s iconic grain elevators are now provincial historic resources

Residents living in Nanton, Alta. are celebrating a decision to designate the town’s iconic grain elevators as provincial historic resources, saving them from demolition.

The threesome, two green twin elevators and an orange one, sit next to the railway.

They were decommissioned in 2002 and faced demolition, but the designation means the Canadian Grain Elevator Discovery Centre, which operates from the historical buildings, can now apply for government grants to help with restorative work. 

“We really want to hold onto the historic feel, but we want to be engaged, we want to be changing with the times,” said Canadian Grain Elevator Discovery Centre board president Leo Wieser.

“We have painting that needs to be done, we have wood work that needs to be done, but we’re also looking to do some expansion to our orange elevators. We want to get it up to a code where we can bring people in and we can have conventions and we can have events and we can do our movies inside.”

The elevators are 95 and 93 years old.

Wieser says it has been nearly ten years since work began to designate the sites as historical. 

“It’s so rare in Calgary and in southern Alberta that that buildings reach 100 years, especially industrial buildings,” said Wieser. 

The Nanton grain elevators have been designated provincial historic resources.“We might see some stuff happening this summer,” he said. “Fingers crossed, some of those grants come through, and this is going to be a 10-year plan.”

Town councillor Roger Miller says he’s hopeful tourism numbers will jump because of the designation, as the public will be keen to learn about Nanton’s history.

“We’re hoping that this will be a full-day event,” Miller said. “Come to Nanton, check out the grain elevators and the history here, and check out the downtown.” 

The facilities are run by a small group of volunteers that care for the buildings as much as possible. 

The Nanton grain elevators have been designated provincial historic resources.Lifelong Nanton resident John Berger says it would have been sad to see the elevators go. 

“These elevators have endured since the time of settlement in 1904 – 1905, and the young men and women going to war in the First World War and Second World War, and the settlers coming by the train,” said Berger. 

“The train brought life to the community and it hauled our grain away.”

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