History of Ellison Grain Elevator
at Coalhurst, Alberta
Coalhurst's only grain elevator first began towering above the C.P. rail siding at that station in 1928. Built by Ellison Milling & Elevator Company Limited, with a capacity of 40,000 bushel, it served the community well in the days when horse-drawn wagons and Model T Ford trucks hauled grain there, and is still serving farmers of the district. Included in the original construction was a small office, a flour and feed shed, and a small frame building constructed at the side of the office housing a Kipp-Kelly motordriven hammer mill for chopping producers' grain. The grain elevator contained 21 separate bins with each bin holding from 800 bushel to 2,000 bushel. The flour and feed shed was large enough to accommodate approximately 50 ton of product, manufactured by the Ellison Milling operation in Lethbridge and trucked to Coalhurst for distribution to the retail merchants in the townsite and to farmers in the area.
During the first part of the second Great War, a three bin wooden annex was constructed having a capacity of 42,000 bushel, which was later reduced to 28,800 bushel after the north west bin was cut off.
The first elevator manager was Edmund C. " Ed" Baines, one of the country's oldest grain buyers. He had been trained in Manitoba in the year 1901 and eventually was hired by Ellison's in 1916 at their Milk River elevator. After working a few months in the elevator at Lethbridge, he was assigned to operate the very small country elevator at Kipp, a mile west of Coalhurst. He then commenced his 21 year term at Coalhurst when the building was completed in 1928 and continued to serve customers and producers until 1949 when he retired.
Ed's son, Alfred, has a few poignant memories of his father and the community. As a young man, Alf sometimes walked across the high level bridge from Lethbridge, climbing down in a manhole when the occasional train came by when he was still on the bridge. He helped his father handle grain and sell the flour and feed. He recalls that his father never owned a car - except for 24 hours when he won a vehicle at the Lethbridge Exhibition and promptly sold it the next day. He "thumbed" his way to and from Coalhurst and was lucky to make the trip to the elevator and back to his home in Lethbridge and usually on time. Ed usually stayed in a one-roomed building on the elevator premises during the week, especially in severe weather. Alf recalls staying there at times and says the small coal stove kept it warm and cozy. The bed was comfortable and the table and chairs were often occupied by fellows who dropped in to play cards or partake of the good food sent out from Lethbridge by Mother Baines.
Alf also has a vivid memory of the coal mine explosion December 9, 1935 which mine was about a mile from the elevator, and he and his father helped bring up 16 burned bodies.
Another incident was when his father fell while working in the annex and hit the rods in the bins, breaking his ribs. Fortunately the Coalhurst hospital was not too far away.
One time the office was broken into and the safe cracked open with an ax, and everything was turned upside down. The burglars were rewarded for their efforts with a few cents in change.
A special feature of the Coalhurst elevator was the grain cleaner on the cleaning floor over the driveway scales. This was a tri-rotor cleaner powered by a 10 horse power motor. The cleaner did what we would now call a rough cleaning job for many of the producers in that area. The dust and the chaff were propelled by a fan into a cyclone and this material was collected and bagged. Some of the runs were satisfactory and some weren't, depending upon the type of dockage in the producer's grain.
After Ed Baines retired in 1949, several other elevator managers served at Coalhurst. The next was Charles "Charlie" Martin who was a very likeable Saskatchewan grain man and he handled the business until his unfortunate passing on January 17, 1964. He took pride in keeping the weeds down and running a tidy place. The insurance inspector who checked the property there made this remark, "This agent is an especially good housekeeper and has maintained a good fire guard around the premises. "
A Lethbridge man, Ed Rae, served the Ellison Company
for the next two and a half years.
H. Blaney-- Sept. 18, 1929---0ct. 8, 1929 Superintendent
W. H. McCaugherty-- Oct. 8, 1929--Jan. 3, 1930,
Sept. 18, 1929 to Oct. 31, 1936
H. Blaney--Jan. 3, 1930-- Apr. 7, 1930
G. C. McLeod--Apr. 7, 1930 --May 15, 1930
Closed-- May 15, 1930-- Jul. 31, 1930
W. Blaney--Aug. 1, 1930-- Mar. 31, 1931
Closed--Mar. 31, 1931-- Jul. 31, 1931
W. H. McCaugherty-- Aug. 1, 1931--Oct. 31, 1936
Closed --Oct. 31, 1936
Coalhurst Elevator operating year 1932-1937,
Total Receipts Bushels 104,494, Highest Receipts
Bushels 26,523 (1932-33), Lowest Receipts
Tonnes 10,330 (1936-37)
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