Ag Museum hopes to hold on to history
This water tower and the grain elevator behind it have been designated heritage buildings by the Rural Municipality of North Norfolk. They are located at the Manitoba Agricultural Museum. (Supplied photo)
Part of being a museum is holding onto history and providing a place for it to be preserved and remembered.
The Manitoba Agricultural Museum is working to do just that with two of its buildings: a Canadian Pacific Railway water tower and Manitoba Pool grain elevator. Both were designated heritage sites by the Rural Municipality of North Norfolk in April.
“It ensures a level of protection for these buildings because they have unique prairie architectural features,” said museum board chairwoman Gloria Sims. “That’s representative of our past and it can be maintained for our future generations.”
The water tower is one of the last remaining remnants of the first water system in the RM of North Norfolk. It is also one of very few railway water towers left in existence in Western Canada, making it worthy of protection on its own.
The grain elevator is the oldest known existing elevator in preservation in Western Canada and the only preserved elevator with the unique early three-quarter cupola-style architecture. (As grain-handling architecture and engineering evolved, grain companies moved away from this early design and the “standard plan” wooden elevator with full width cupola emerged as the industry norm.) There are no examples of this early elevator design in preservation.
The museum wants to redo the roof on both structures.
“We’re going to be looking for outside grants. There’s a provincial grant that could be applied for. We’re hoping to have enough money in place to start next year,” Sims said.
The water tower was originally built in 1900 in MacGregor and was used to help provide a suitable water source for the CPR to resupply their steam engines before the Manitoba Escarpment climb.
The tower is 54 feet high and consists of two separate structures. The inner tub, capacity 40,000 gallons, is elevated in the upper part of the structure and is made entirely of wood. The outer shell serves as an insulated cover for the water.
The elevator was built in 1905 along the CP railway tracks in Austin and was used for 33 years by the Western Grain Flour Company. The Manitoba Pool co-operative bought it in 1938 and it remained in use until 1975.
Sims said the Manitoba Ag Museum continues to add to its collection of agriculture-related objects.
“It’s a growing museum. We have a lot of artifacts,” she said.