Alberta Wheat Pool

Warwick Alberta Wheat Pool

 

In response to declining grain prices after the first world war forcing farmers to sell their crops at a loss, a co-operative was organized. Formed in 1923 with an initial 26,000 members, the Alberta Wheat Pool was the first farmer's co-operative on the Canadian Prairies. It wasn't until 1925 that the first three Wheat Pool elevators were built in the province.

The F.W. Mcdougall Construction Company who specialized in building coal tipples, seed cleaning plants, and grain elevators across Alberta and Saskatchewan constructed a 40,000 bushel elevator in Warwick in 1929. A 41,000 bushel balloon annex was added to this elevator in 1956.

Warwick's Alberta Wheat Pool elevator was built in 1929. The 32000 bushel grain elevator belonged to the Federal Grain Company until the Alberta Wheat Pool purchased the elevator and a 34,000 bushel crib annex on March 16, 1972. It remained in business until closing in November 1979. In 1980 the last acting Elevator Manager bought the elevator and moved it to his family's farm.

Kingman, Alberta

 

Francis Kingsbury opened the Kingsbury post office in 1904.  It was located in his home, one and a half miles south of the hamlet of Kingman, where he lived with his father (a widower) and two brothers.  In 1909 the post office was moved into Kingman.  As there was another post office in the province called Kingsbury,  the post office changed its name to Kingman to avoid confusion with mail delivery.  
 
Lots in Kingman went onto the market October 19, 1909, at 10:00 am.  In short time, Kingman had two general stores to serve the new residents.  The first was owned by Taje & Olson Company of Bawlf.  The second, directly across Main Street, was occupied by A. Horte and Sons (later becoming the International Store).  In February 1910 the first passenger train on the Tofield-Calgary branch of the Grand Trunk Pacific railroad stopped at the Kingman railway station.

During its first years, Kingman experienced extensive growth.  The community laid claim to a doctor's office, a real estate office, a dressmaker, a grain buyer, a farm machinery warehouse, and a restaurant, where a full course meal was had for 35¢, or coffee and pie for 10¢.  
 
The construction of a Hogg & Lytle grain elevator began in July of 1916.  The 40,000 bushel elevator was ready for business in August of that year.  In September of 1926, the Home Grain company purchased the elevator, continuing operation until it was acquired by Searle Grain Company in the spring of 1929.  1940 saw an annex added.  Sometime in the early 1970's Searle sold the elevator to the Federal Grain Company, who in turn, sold it to the Alberta Wheat Pool a few years later.  The elevator was dismantled in about 1975.

A United Grain Growers (UGG) elevator, with a 35,000 bushel capacity, was completed and ready to handle grain for the 1922 harvest.  During its first year of operation, the UGG handled 60,000 bushels.  Kingman's UGG elevator was demolished in March 1976.

Kingman's Alberta Wheat Pool grain elevator was built in 1928 with a 40 000 bushel capacity.  Two 15 000 bushel annexes were added in 1941.

By the 1960s things in Kingman began to slow down; businesses closed and people moved away.  In the mid-1960s rail service was discontinued; the tracks removed in 1978.  In the late 60's the train station was relocated to Dodds where it was used as a dwelling. Sadly, it burnt down a few years later.  The International store was the last remaining general store in Kingman, closing its' doors in 1971.

On February 15, 1977, the last grain elevator in Kingman was moved to a private farm.  It took ten days of preparations and loading to ready the 200-ton structure for transport. It was transported with a modified former WWII tank carrier.  The 8 mile move took six and a half hours.

Today Kingman has a school, post office (in the former International store building), museum, community hall, and an outdoor skating rink.  Kingman celebrates its Scandinavian roots with an annual Lutefisk Supper.  The 2017 supper saw a turnout of over 400 people.  

Some noteworthy dates in Kingman's history:
1911- Prospering with a population of 87
1912- Telephone service began
1912- Kingman's first school opened
1913- Pool hall built
1914- A. Horte and sons opened their second store
1917- Yngve Johnson bought the first tractor in the area
1919- In May fire destroyed the post office, telephone exchange, a store, and a building used by Camrose Central Creamery
1922- Garage opened
1922- Small cyclone hit the village damaging some of the buildings
1922- Barbershop opened
1923- April 11, 9:45 pm - fire destroyed the livery stable
1927- Kingman hall built. First dance held in January, 1928.
1928- Cafe built on the site of Horte & Sons store that was destroyed by fire.
1930- Manning -Sutherland Lumber Company sold to Beaver Lumber Company
1932- Progress Lumber Company builds hardware store adjoining the lumberyard
1947- A New school built
1967- Population 100 (approx.)
1988- Kingman School burned down
2006- Population 87
2011- Population 90
2016- Population 103 – and growing

 

Esther, Alberta

 

Never a large settlement, only ever reaching about 65 residents, Esther has always been known for its community spirit. People would come from far and wide to attend social gatherings, they would lend a helping hand whenever needed, and undertake projects for the betterment of their community. The area saw most of its settlement happen between 1910 and 1915. Esther is named for the first postmaster Yens B. Olsen's daughter, Anna Esther Landreth.

With the onset of the First World War, many were prosperous. 1914-1916 were booming years. Crops were good, wheat was at a premium, roads were built and school districts organized. In 1913 the Municipal District of Canmer was formed. The name was chosen because many of the settlers came from Canada and America. In late 1937 the municipality was disorganized and along with many others became what is now known as 'Special Areas'.

The late 20s and 1930s were some of the worst years the area has ever seen. Dust storms and weeds started to appear. There was drought, hail, and grasshoppers almost every year. In 1932 wheat sold for as low as 19 cents per bushel and cattle as low as 2 cents a pound. Taxes could not be paid and people were leaving in large numbers, reverting their land to the municipality. Those who stayed were able to purchase this land, often for the cost of taxes owed on it.

In 1932 the Alberta Government awarded Canmer Municipality a relief contract to build nine miles of Highway 9 north of Oyen. This helped some make it through the winter, but the Alberta government deemed it too costly of a way for providing relief.  This, in turn, brought about a direct relief program where a family of three would receive $8 a month for groceries, $15 a year for clothing, as well as coal and extra vegetables when needed. This continued until the start of World War II when work became available again.

The Second World War saw the mechanization of farms intensify. Tractors were replacing horses and combines started appearing in the district. With these machines men were able to work longer hours on their expanding acreage, often into the night.

Esther's only elevator, an Alberta Wheat Pool, was built in 1926 and closed in 1979. It was the third Wheat Pool elevator to be built in the Province and is the last one still standing. Prior to the train coming to Esther farmers made the 14 mile trip to Loverna Saskatchewan to sell their grain. The railroad arrived in Loverna in 1913. Before that Alsask, Saskatchewan was the nearest market town.

Today, many of the original homesteading families have left the area in search of other opportunities. Those who have stayed are farming larger acreage and raising cattle as means to make a living. The owner of the grain elevator and many of the other buildings remaining in Esther has made efforts to secure funding, hoping to preserve these historic structures, but has met with little success.