For a glimpse of the vanishing past, make the detour to tiny Inglis. A stunning row of five 1920s grain elevators – the sentinels of the Manitoba prairie – are in the process of being restored to their original splendor. Inside the creaky interior of the Paterson elevator, exhibits capture the thin lives where success or failure rested with the whims of commodity brokers.
Inglis is 20km north of the Yellowhead Hwy (Hwy 16) near the Saskatchewan border.
Barn-red, brilliant white or tractor-green; striking yet simple; function and form: characterizing prairie landscapes like the wheat they hold, grain elevators were once flagships of prairie architecture.
Introduced in 1880, more than 7000 of the vertical wooden warehouses lined Canadian train tracks by 1930. Their importance was invaluable, as the prairies became ‘the breadbasket of the world’ and they were built next to the railway lines, which revolutionized the loading and sorting of grain. Also, their stoic simplicity inspired Canadian painters, photographers and writers who gave them life, but from the 1970s onwards, these unique wooden constructions were mostly replaced with generic concrete edifices.
The Roblin Review
By Ed Doering
Not only did Lonely Planet rate Canada its number one destination for 2017, the world’s leading travel media company has put the Inglis Elevators in the Top 10 list of sights to see – at number 7 – in the country.
Lonely Planet also puts the historic row of elevators in the top spot in Manitoba, ahead of attractions such as the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, the Forks, the Assiniboine Park Zoo and the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
It also lists a visit to the Inglis national historic site as the province’s #4 experience.
“It’s a bit of a mystery as to how that happened but it’s huge for us, obviously,” said Judy Bauereiss, chair of the Inglis Area Heritage Committee, the board responsible for the national historic site.
“It’s definitely something to celebrate and something we can be proud of,” she said.
Bauereiss says the site had its best year ever in 2016 in terms of visitors – more than 800 small tours translating to more than 1,000 individuals.
She says there’s no indication from the site’s guest book that any of the visitors represented Lonely Planet.
Bauereiss noted visitors have come from almost every province in the country – most of the tour groups were made up of people from Quebec, something she found a bit surprising; eight or nine US states; and 14 foreign countries, with an increase of visitors from Germany.
“For us it’s hard to believe (our visitor base) is as broad as it is,” she said. “The other thing is that the board has worked very hard during my tenure so we will take some credit for getting the word out.”
With Lonely Planet helping to get the word out, Bauereiss thinks the site might see even more next year.
“I would certainly hope so,” she said.
She also hoping the designations will help with fund raising for the board’s five year site revitalization plan.
The board is currently in year two and is looking to repaint the Reliance elevator, and possibly a second, this summer.
“I hope this would enhance our grant applications,” she said.
Bauereiss says everyone is looking forward to what next season will bring.
She says everyone on the board, and in the community, is pumped about the publicity from Lonely Planet.
“We have a very hard working board… it’s nice to see that hard work pay off,” she said.
Lonely Planet has been publishing travel guides since 1973 and each year ranks destinations based on quality of ravel experiences offered.
Results are published in the annual Best in Travel series – the 2017 edition featuring Canada, hit the shelves Oct. 26.
“Canada is always popular with us,” said Lonely Planet’s Canada destination editor Alex Howard, “but there’s so much happening in 2017 that made it number one.
“It’s the country’s biggest birthday party in recent memory with the sesquicentennial next year, and they won’t be shy about celebrating. Now is the time to start planning a trip.”
Lonely Planet also cited a weaker Canadian dollar – giving visitors “plenty of pocket money to spend on Canada’s exciting fusion food and mysteriously underrated wine”; as well as “the wave of positivity unleashed by its energetic new leader Justin Trudeau,” as some of tis reasons for naming Canada number one this year.
“We are honoured to have been selected as Lonely Planet’s Destination of the Year for 2017,” said federal small business and tourism minister Bardish Chagger. “Of course, this recognition doesn’t mean our work is done; it should encourage us to keep this momentum building. Our tourism partners from coast to coast to coast are working hard to provide travelers with unique and unforgettable experiences. There is something for everyone here. The year 2017 is also our country’s 150th anniversary, and we couldn’t think of a better time to invite the world to discover Canada.”
More than 14 million international visitors chose to explore Canada between January and August 2016, including a record breaking 2.5 million overseas arrivals this summer.