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.