A Small Town Has Faith

by Laureen on April 5, 2012

Val Marie Elevator (Photo: Robert Berdan)

In 1927 the Val Marie Elevator was one of a proud army of approximately 3,300 Saskatchewan crib-style wooden grain elevators. By the close of 2009, the list of known such elevators in the province had declined to approximately 420. Now the Val Marie Elevator stands as sentinel against the loss both of a way of life and the memory of what that life meant. And there’s a group of Val Marie people led by local resident Maurice Lemire, whose father was the first elevator agent, who are determined not to let the village’s elevator follow the rest of its kind as time and neglect work their destruction. The first step in the process of regeneration is to restore the elevator’s exterior.

But preserving an elevator isn’t cheap. Re-shingling the roof with wood shingles, just like the originals – with the Elevator at over 80 feet high, this re-shingling is a big job. Even finding someone who can get up there is hard. Then, replacing the siding that’s too worn out to save, and re-painting anything salvageable. After that will come the interior, and then plans for further development. Maybe one day the Val Marie Elevator will stand as a monument to the way of life it helped create and sustain, and as an attraction for visitors to the region that will help sustain the Village itself.

To date, this small community of about 100 people has raised over $25,000 toward restoration costs. But another $30,000 is needed. The Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation has promised a matching grant of $10,000 to help with the roof, after the total amount of $20,000 has been spent on the project. With donations of materials and time and services and faith, the lower roofs have been shingled. It’s going to be expensive to get people up on those 80-foot heights to finish the job. So the Val Marie Heritage, Culture & Youth Elevator Committee is bent on raising enough money to get it done.

Cut to the deal of the year. For only $50, you can buy a ticket on a beautiful cabin, built by volunteers, framed in wood from the old Elevator Annex that had to be torn down in 2009/2010 for safety reasons, and with a new metal roof, cedar flooring, and wood log exterior (plus under-gable siding from the Elevator wood.) There are other prizes too: a $290 gas barbecue donated by Evans Bros Home Hardware and a $100 gift certificate from Pioneer Co-op, both in Swift Current.  But that cabin – it’s a beauty. Imagine it on your lot at the lake, or in your big back yard, or as a gift to your grown kids. What a piece of heritage it will be.

This community has so much faith. Imagine being part of that faith. Then go to the Village of Val Marie website for more information on getting a ticket for yourself. Go now.


Fiona Woods April 5, 2012 at 10:38 am

Beautiful video! Beautiful structure. Like a gigantic piece of sculpture in that space. Would the cabin ship do you suppose??!

Laureen April 5, 2012 at 10:56 am

The video is a nice glimpse, isn’t it? Unfortunately, I think you’d have to take the cabin apart to get it to Ireland! But if you want it in your Canadian back yard, it could go on a truck 🙂

Jill Robinson April 6, 2012 at 9:54 am

I’d love to win that cabin! What a great idea.

Laureen April 6, 2012 at 12:38 pm

I will send you good cabin-winning vibes!

judith April 9, 2012 at 7:24 pm

I want a piece of that!

Laureen April 9, 2012 at 7:30 pm

It is rather nice, isn’t it? Good vibes to you too!

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