MARY'S GENEALOGY TREASURES
When the rail lines were extending south and east of Lethbridge,
stops were planned about twelve miles apart. Since the trains
were run by steam, they had to take on water at these stops.
In 1908, one stop eleven miles south east of Lethbridge, was
built. It was named after E.H. Wilson of the Alberta Railway
and Irrigation Company.
A telegraph and express office was built. Homes and offices
for the crew who worked on the railway were built by the
C.P.R. Mail had to be obtained in Lethbridge, but parcels
could be sent to Wilson by train.
Farming had become a very viable industry, and so in 1908
a grain elevator was built at the new station of Wilson by
the Cardston Milling Company.
The Nicholas Bawlf Grain Company was formed by Nicholas
Bawlf and his son William. In 1918 the company owned
more than a hundred elevators. One of the elevators was
at Wilson Siding. Another Company Bawlf owned in Alberta
was the Alberta Grain Company. It merged with the Alberta
Pacific Elevator Company to form the Alberta Pacific Grain
Co. Ltd. John I. McFarland was a track buyer for the Bawlf Co.
in 1898. When Bawlf took over Alberta Pacific Co., John
McFarland became General Manager. (The McFarland Block
in Lethbridge was named after him.)
In 1914 the Ogilvie Flour Mills Co. built a grain elevator at
Wilson. The company had 18 men at work erecting a 35,000
bushel up-to-date grain elevator. It was erected as quickly as
possible so it would be ready to handle the fall crop.
The grain at Wilson was fairly good considering the fact that it
was a very dry year. The fact that the Ogilvie Company was
rushing their work on the elevator, showed the faith they
had in the methods farmers were to farm and the faith they
had in the milling interest in the district. For several years
these companies took care of the grain grown in the district.
Grain was hauled to the elevators in grain tanks pulled by
four, six or eight horses. A few farmers by the late 1920's
had trucks to haul their grain.
At first the elevator operators lived in the office adjoining the
elevator. Later on the companies built houses for the grain
elevator operators, and their families. One of the early elevator
operators was Raymond Poole, who started working for the
Ogilvie Grain Company.
In 1923 the Alberta Wheat Pool was formed. When the Pool
Elevator was built at Wilson, Raymond Poole became the
operator, a position he kept until the early 1940's when he
left to farm a few miles east of Wilson Siding.
Wilson Siding of years gone by is slowly disappearing. The
express station, and the telegraph office are gone. Trains
changed, and when steam engines were no longer used,
the water tower was removed. The C.P.R. no longer has
section men living at Wilson.
Elevator companies also changed through the years. Bawlf
and Ogilvie disappeared. Another grain company, the Alberta
Pacific, succeeded the Bawlf, but it too is gone.
Today, 1994, the Alberta Wheat Pool is the only company doing
business at Wilson Siding. When the Pool Elevator closes its
elevator, the once busy train stop will no longer exist.
Through the years interesting things have happened at Wilson.
In the early thirties, when dust storms were everywhere, the
Hutterites from the Allenby Colony were hired to clean the
dirt out of the engine room of the Bawlf Elevator. When times
were hard during the depression, some farmers hauled their
grain to the Ogilvie Elevator and exchanged it for flour and
A young couple started a small convenience store in their home.
This venture was short lived as improved roads made it easy to
get to Lethbridge.
About 1944, a kindergarten was operated by Mr. and Mrs
Barkling in the station.
People remember terrible snow storms that completely blocked
the tracks and stranded people in the train between Wilson
and Stirling. Neighbours came in bobsleds to take them to
nearby farm homes until the train could move again.
Sometimes the farmer thought he was being cheated and
in some cases he was. The agent had to operate the elevator
under the instruction of the owner of the company. He was
the agent of the company, paid by the company and worked for
the company, not for the farmer. Consequently, the agent
wasn't always trusted and there were arguments. The agent
was a source of news. He knew the yield of crops in the
district, the grade the grain was registering. He was able to
advise the farmer on the price of grain and the time to sell.
At certain times of the year, the elevator agent was a very
busy man. In the fall of the year, during the rush of harvest,
operator took in grain all day, did the paper work and
worked into the night loading the grain into boxcars. The fact
that the operator often lived in a company dwelling not far
from the elevator was an advantage at busy times.
In wintertime things certainly slackened off a great deal.
Sometimes the elevator got to be a favorite gathering place for
people of the community - for a game of rummy, crib or poker,
or just a good visit.
The Alberta Wheat Pool, a farmer owned and controlled grain
handling organization was formed in 1923 and the Wilson AWP
elevator was opened in November 1928 with R.D. (Ray) Poole
as the agent. He remained as agent until June 1948 when he
was replaced by C.R. (Ralph) Bechtel. The travelling
Superintendent (traveller) was W.D. Anderson of Lethbridge.
The elected Delegate for the District for 1928-29 was T.B.
Dunham and he was replaced by Redd of Raymond who held
that position until 1958. The District Director was C. Jenson
of Raymond and he was replaced by A.T. Baker of Nemiscam
In the earlier days of grain handling elevators were spotted
along the railways using the rule of thumb "A farmer should
be able to travel to the elevator with a load of grain and
return home the same day."
The person in charge of the grain elevator was known as the
Agent and he issued grain storage tickets, bought and sold
grain, ran moisture tests, passed on local gossip, and a host
of other duties. During winter or on rainy days it was not
unusual to find several local farmers sitting in the office cussing
the weather or settling the affairs of the country. Because
the earlier elevators were built to handle wagons or small trucks,
the equipment was somewhat different than that of present times.
Power was supplied by a one cylinder motor which was started
by pulling on the flywheel and was cooled by a large tank of
water kept in the back of the agents office to keep it from
freezing in the winter.
Amajor difference between then and now, was that after the vehicle
on the scale was weighed, the elevator agent cranked up the
front part of the platform while the rear end of it would drop down
the 'pit' so that the grain ran out of the rear of the wagon or truck.
With horse drawn wagons it was necessary to unhook the back
team of horses to keep them from being hoisted with the front of
the wagon box. This process was often upsetting to 'spooky'
horses and the agent often had to lead horses onto the scale
platform and help to calm them.
The Wheat Pool is still operating in the same location but now the
facilities are much larger and the equipment is very different.
Another change is that the employee in charge is now known
as The Manager.