Six years after arsonists burned Saskatchewan’s oldest grain elevator to the ground, there is only bare ground at the former site of Fleming’s Lake of the Woods elevator.
But that will change this summer, when a steel framed structure will rise in place of the original elevator, and the familiar outline of Fleming’s historic elevator will once again dominate the small town’s skyline.
The plan is to build a frame for the replica elevator out of drill stem, and grids of 2x4s to which metal plates can be attached.
“We haven’t confirmed the size,” says Fleming Mayor Phil Hamm, who was involved with the effort to preserve the former elevator.
“We’re not sure if we can make it full size or not. We’re in the process of talking to contractors and a welder. It may have to be downsized a little because of the material we’re working with. We will put screw piles in the ground, and will weld the lengths of pipe in place.
“We’re going to attach 3x8 metal panels and will have them as close to the original color of the elevator as we can.
“The top part, the cupola, we will build on the ground, and lift it up and weld it on.”
Because of the materials being used, Hamm said he isn’t sure if the replica can be built to the exact dimensions of the original.
“If we have to scale it back from what it was, we want to keep it in proportion, so we’re going to get an engineer to assist us with that,” said Hamm. “I believe the main part of the elevator was 40x40, and it was 55 feet high. We’re going to go with the dimensions of the former elevator and just see what the contractors that are advising us have to say, taking into consideration the material we have to work with. We have an architect who is willing to provide us with some advice.
“If we reduce the size, we would have to ensure that all the proportions are the same.”
The town of Fleming owns the site where the original elevator stood and the replica will be built on the same site.
“We’ve got the plans at the town office, so we can make it very similar to the original,” he said.
“We’re going to have a ceiling put in on the ground floor. We have some museum items, we thought we would put the items in there. We think we will get more donations once people know we have someplace to display them.
“We will have electricity in the building, and we’ll finish it off nice inside.
“The building will include the drive through and the office, so it will have the appearance of what we lost.”
With volunteer work and donated equipment, Hamm believes the replica elevator can be built very inexpensively.
“We’re doing as much as possible with donated equipment,” he said. “I’m thinking it will be $25,000-35,000.”
Tony Huggard is chairing the building committee, and Clint Blythe, and Joe Tschetter are also on the committee.
Hamm said he believes the replica elevator could take shape this summer.
“We think we can do it this summer—that’s what our plan is anyway,” he said. “We want to raise a bit more money first. We’re hoping to raise about $15,000.”
The idea for the replica elevator has been kicked around for a while, said Hamm.
“Tony Huggard and Bernard Pranke have been talking about it for awhile,” said Hamm.
The idea has been discussed at joint meetings of the various organizations in Fleming, and has had strong support.
“We’re trying to have the organizations in Fleming united,” said Hamm.
“Instead of having the Communities in Bloom committee meeting with five or six people, and the Fleming Community Organization with five or six and the heritage group with five or six, we thought let’s all meet together.
“It’s been working well. We had 13 out at one meeting, and 11 out at another. It gets discouraging with five or six trying to take care of the hall and half a dozen trying to do something else.
“It’s better when the community acts together.
“Everyone in the community is getting behind this. People are very excited. I have had some people who haven’t been attending the meetings saying they will gladly help out. People think it looks barren without the elevator there, and this is a way to recognize our heritage.”
Anyone interested in helping out can make a donation to the project through the town of Fleming.
Cheques can be made to the Town of Fleming elevator project and mailed to Town of Fleming Box 129 Fleming Sask S0G 1R0