PORTAL 52 - Week 17: Prairie Portals
The small town of Nanton, Alberta, is located along Highway 2, a 45-minute drive south of Calgary. It is a unique place to visit, a portal in its own right. Stepping back in history is as easy as crossing a threshold; the town boasts numerous antique stores, as well as the Bomber Command Museum, a veritable graveyard of WWII-era planes and artifacts. Even if one merely drives through the town without stopping it is possible to witness history, as these grain elevators stand tall beside the now defunct section of the Canadian Pacific Rail line, right beside Highway 2.
When the Nanton grain elevators ceased operations in 2001 they, like many before them, were slated for destruction. Some Nantonites formed a historical society with the goal of preserving just one, the tallest of the towering prairie icons. Their efforts proved worth it, and they managed to save three of the elevators, along with several other structures.
From left to right, (or North to South along the rails) this painting shows the twin elevators painted in the distinctive green colour of the Alberta Wheat Pool, the easily recognized Pioneer owned elevator and annex clad in orange paint with yellow rooftops, a small old coal shed, and the white seed cleaning plant in the distance.
The historical society not only managed to fundraise enough money and find the volunteers to restore these portals to the past to their former glory, they also created the Canadian Grain Elevator Discovery Centre, so that the knowledge of our agricultural history can be shared and enjoyed by all. Check out their website at