Packed with all kinds of family fun, the Stettler P&H (Parrish and Heimbecker) Elevator Pancake Breakfast is set for May 26th.
Events kick off at 8 a.m. at the elevator and continue through to 1 p.m. with everything from a threshing demonstration, flour and breadmaking and a rope making demonstration as well.
Everyone is welcome and admission is by donation.
The elevator itself, which is in amazing condition thanks to the dedicated efforts of members of the P&H Elevator Preservation Society, closed back in 2003.
“P and H ran it, and they had run it since 1920,” said Stan Eichhorn of the Society.
“They had always owned it – it had never changed hands grain company-wise or anything else,” he added.
But with the end of once-thriving grain elevator era, the site’s future was looking bleak.
“In 2004, they were looking at demolishing it.”
At that point Eichhorn, who has a strong passion for helping to preserve local history, obtained the elevator, and in 2005, the P&H Elevator Preservation Society was launched.
“There was quite a bunch of them in Alberta at one time, but there is today only one left standing besides this one,” he said. “So there’s this one here and one in Three Hills.”
“In western Canada, there used to be over 5,500 grain elevators. In Alberta, there were over 1,700,” he said. “Wheat was king when the prairies opened up,” he said, adding that at one time, there were more than 300 grain companies in western Canada.
Years back there would have been at least six standing in the Stettler community. Essentially, they were built about eight miles from each other down the track across the region.
“That was roughly the distance that a team of horses from outlying areas could make it to an elevator in a day with a load of wheat and back home again comfortably,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Eichhorn said the mandate of the Society is to preserve the heritage of the elevator and elements of the history of grain growing agriculture in the area.
Members also regularly showcase antique farm equipment, and demonstrate to visitors a bit of what life was like in those early days.
“So the Society has been going since then – we are going into our 14th year. Thanks to all the hard work of people like Oliver (Bull) and his wife MaryAnn and others, it’s kept going,” he said.
“MaryAnn is in charge of our snack bar over on the train property, which will be opened about 57 times for every (Alberta Steam) train that heads out.”
Proceeds from this also go to support the ongoing work of the Society.
Looking ahead, the elevator complex will also be open for tours on Alberta steam train days and most other days of the week during the summer months.
Threshing demonstrations will be featured on a number of occasions through the summer as well.
Ultimately, an important part of the Society’s work is to help educate the younger set about this aspect of local history.
“We have school tours booked for May and June. We are expecting 200-plus students to visit and tour the elevator complex.”
Folks are also encouraged to drop by for coffee at the elevator Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 to 11 a.m.