The general store is still standing

The general store is still standing

A look at the history of Botha’s elevator

Children ages 3-11 years of age, are you ready for a great month of excitement?

Children ages 3-11 years of age, are you ready for a great month of excitement? Botha Summer Playground programs start this coming Friday, July 4, starting at 9:30 a.m. sharp until 12 noon at the Botha Hall. Hopefully you’re registered already for this exciting month that we just entered, if not please phone Jaimie Wahl at 403-742-5926 or contact her at or feel free to message her at the “Botha Summer Playground Program” a.s.a.p. on Facebook. Your child doesn’t want to miss any of the fun activities that are about to happen.

The schedule is also posted on this program on Facebook too, so everyone can see the upcoming activities. Friday, July 4 and Monday, July 7, are “In- House” activities that, besides the indoor activities that are planned, they will be going to the playground, then Tuesday, July 8, they will be having a “Field Trip” day, which includes going to Stettler for a great time. So make sure you get in touch with Jaimie right away to get registered or for more information. This program is a great way to spend some time while the children are away from school for the first month.

Bingo evening happens again Tuesday, July 8, starting at 7:15 p.m., so grab your bingo dobbers and come out for one great evening.

Coffee is on and ready to enjoy at 10 a.m. every Wednesday morning at the Botha Seniors’ Centre. So make sure you plan this on your agenda for the summer months, as they would love to see everyone attend. This is an older tradition for Botha, as in the General Store here in this little village years ago, had a spot on their counter where friends and neighbours sat and enjoyed coffee and also visiting each other as they purchased items at the store, which we will discuss later in this column.

Botha is in the process of doing some construction on the roads that run east and west of the General Store, Village Office and post office at this moment, which were in desperate need of repair, so make sure you slow down and watch for them working there. There are “Road out” signs posted, so please take note of these signs.

So let’s look back at the history of the General Store (which is still standing today) and also the elevator history. In the spring of 1945, J. Morley Groves and his brother, Melvin C. Groves bought the Botha Store from Joe Johnson. The two brothers also were grain buyers at that time. After they purchased the store, they made some big changes to this building. The original store had the west part of the building sectioned off for living space, with about an eight-foot wide long staircase, running from about the middle of the store to the back of the building to the second storey. The brothers removed and replaced the staircase to a different position, and then they only used the second floor for storage, with the main floor being the store itself.

At that time, this little active store carried a lot of items besides groceries. They also carried salt blocks, chicken feed, kerosene, cleaning fluid, etc., besides blue jeans for everyone, coveralls, boots, dress shoes, rubber boots, face towels, sewing items, silk stockings and a lot more items, too many to mention. There was something for everyone. The store also had a meat counter and a cooler, so they were able to hold and sell several types of meat. Apparently, they also sold the best cheese around the country at that time, which a lot of people even from Stettler came out to purchase. The cheese was displayed on the counter for everyone to see easily. They were always pleased and very happy for all their faithful customers and the coffee was always on, so people could come and sit and have a great visit with their friends and neighbours.

During Morley’s spare time, he built several granaries and hayracks for various farmers around the country. He also ran a lumber market, which was closed down about eight years later, so he was a very busy man.

Mel and Morley were in the store business for about 30 years. In 1974 they sold the business to Bill and Ida Cross. After that the store had several owners.

Now let’s look at another and one of the most important businesses in Botha, the elevators. The first grain was shipped directly through the grain cars located on the train which brought the tracks through. Riggs and White were the first to do this. C. H. Baird, manager of Canadian Grain and Produce, had shipped 20 carloads of grain by January 1910.

The Botha farmers formed a company in 1909 which was operational by November 22, 1911, where the Alberta Wheat Pool stood. Mr. MacKay (Jack) ran the Botha Farmers Elevator from its opening in 1912, until it was purchased in 1927 by the Alberta Wheat Pool. At this time of purchase, the elevator was moved east of the original spot and operated there until the early ‘30s. The Botha farmers then closed up shop and it was taken over by the Peacock Grain Company, which turned over and sold it to the Midland Pacific.

The second elevator was built by the Alberta Grain Company in 1911, but today things have really changed as the tracks are mainly gone and the railway has been pulled out, which means we also lost all the elevators they used at that time, unfortunately.

So let us all remember the railway and all the elevators around the country and be able to hand these stories down to our younger generations as time goes on.