It’s hard to miss the construction of a new grain elevator. The sheer size of the structure almost instantly changes the skyline in a rural area. Neighbours, farmers and motorists watch with curiosity from a distance as the structure takes shape.
If you go back almost a century, the construction of a new elevator was a more common event, as the number of grain elevators in Western Canada peaked at over 5,700 in the 1930s. Since then, particularly since the 1990s, there’s been a shift toward much larger, more efficient concrete and steel grain terminals. The number of elevators in use in Western Canada has fallen to just a few hundred.
Over the last two or three years — partly related to the end of the Canadian Wheat Board’s single desk — there has been some renewed investment in building grain handling facilities. With the CWB itself looking to become a private grain company, it’s in the middle of constructing at least four new elevators in Western Canada (possibly more). Other companies, including Viterra, Cargill, Richardson, and P&H, are also in the process of building new facilities or expanding existing elevators.
The video and photos below offer a closer look at how a concrete grain elevator is built, specifically CWB’s 34 thousand tonne facility just south of Winnipeg at Glenlea. RealAg’s Kelvin Heppner visits with Rori Bouchard, the senior project manager with FWS Group, the company contracted to build CWB’s new elevator network: