By Morgan Turney
There was a time - during the early 1930s - when the three prairie provinces boasted about 5,750 wooden grain elevators. Every hamlet, village, town and city had at least one grain elevator located on 'Railway Street'. A town's prosperity was measured by the number of grain elevators it had. As the years have gone by these icons of prairie life have been torn down, one at a time. Few are saved: in Manitoba, the only elevators that are safe are the five which have been preserved at Inglis.
I caught wind that the Paterson elevator at Marquette was undergoing demolition. Railfan friend, Felix Lesiuk, had been out railfanning the Carberry subdivision between Winnipeg and Portage la Prairie on Monday, September 2nd and stopping at Marquette, noticed that the grain annex, metal holding bins and the elevator office were all torn down and the backhoe on site had broken through the centre of the elevator and pulled down most of its interior. That was an obvious clue that likely the following day would see the elevator collapse.
I arrived at the site around 9:40 the next day and found the backhoe chewing away at the base of the elevator. I asked one of the workers nearby when he thought the structure would collapse. He looked at his watch, glanced up and looked at the backhoe's progress, then looked at his watch again and said, "Oh, in about 8 minutes." And 8 minutes later, down she came!
I don't need to tell you how sad it is to see these structures disappearing. It's even sadder when you witness one falling. As Felix said after I showed him my photos, "The village of Marquette is now boring."
Morgan Turney is a longtime member of the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club. He has served in various positions in the club, including three terms as President. he is currently the acting program director for the club. Morgan is the publisher of two magazines, Canadian Railway Modeller and Railfan Canada.