Friday, 18 August 2017 05:11

Val Marie preserves its strong history with visual symbols

Written by  Andrea Carol
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 Cathy Legault, town administrator stands in front of the Val Marie Municipal Heritage Elevator and next to one of the towns original fire trucks. Cathy Legault, town administrator stands in front of the Val Marie Municipal Heritage Elevator and next to one of the towns original fire trucks. Andrea Carol

The iconic grain elevators of Saskatchewan are monumental in presence and are visual symbols of farming in the bread basket of the world.


These elevators dominated the landscape for decades and are now threatened with extinction.
These prairie cathedrals — a declaration of agricultural strength and harvest — were the first step in grain trade and exportation nearly a century ago.
In 1923, French architect Le Corbusier wrote, “grain elevators and factories, the magnificent first-fruits of the new age.”
Numbering as many as 5,758 in 1933, many of these grain elevators are being disassembled and railway lines abandoned.
The Canadian Pacific Railway crossed the province in 1884 and was completed in 1885. In June 1924, the CPR constructed a railway from Climax to Val Marie making possible the birth of the village.
Val Marie was incorporated as a village in 1926 and was linked to the rest of the country by rail. The Alberta Pacific (a.k.a. Municipal Heritage) elevator was built in 1927 and still stands today.
In front of the elevator, adding to the historic scene, sits one of the towns original fire trucks.
“One of the original fire trucks was found by our mayor, Roland Facette in somebody’s junk pile. He won’t tell me whose junk pile,” Cathy Legault, the town administrator, says with a laugh. 
“The 1941 grain truck was converted to the town fire truck by the local machine shop. The mayor dragged it home and fixed it up.” she adds.
Residents of Val Marie refused to allow their historical grain cathedral to disappear and came together to restore it.
The cultural and historical landmark can be found on Centre Street in the small village.
The first step in the process of regeneration was restoring the elevator’s exterior. Val Marie, a community of approximately 137 people raised a substantial amount of money required for restoration costs.
Morris Lemere, an outstanding resident in the village, spear-headed many of the fundraising efforts.
Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation has awarded the community a grant in support of the rebirth of the historical elevator. 
The Foundation invests in communities across the province and its mission is to foster conservation of the heritage resources that embody Saskatchewan’s heritage for the benefit of present and future generations.
Val Marie is home to some awesome parts of the province’s heritage.

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