Columbia Basin Trust purchases historically valuable grain elevators
As you approach the town of Creston’s downtown core, two rare landmarks stand out: a pair of grain elevators over 80 years old. Representing a Canadian symbol that is rapidly disappearing, the Creston elevators are two of just four wooden grain elevators left in British Columbia. To ensure their existence into the future, Columbia Basin Trust has become their new owners.
The Trust is committed to helping preserve the region’s history and share it with future generations. In some cases, this means supplying a grant to help a community group or local government to conserve an important building. In Creston’s case, the best option was for the Trust to purchase the elevators.
“These elevators are priceless and so iconic for the town of Creston because of its agricultural heritage,” said Johnny Strilaeff, President and CEO, Columbia Basin Trust. “The previous owner, Ray Gauthier, put in his own labour to clean and maintain them, and now additional work must be done. We are acquiring the elevators to ensure they can be properly preserved and maintained for future generations to enjoy.”
The two elevators, approximately six storeys high, were built in 1935 and 1936 and were used to collect, store and ship locally grown wheat, barley, oats and rye. They closed in 1971 and 1982 and have seen little use or major upkeep since.
Two heritage consultants, Elana Zysblat and John Atkin, evaluated their historical value in December 2017.
“This isn’t a remote field in some remote, isolated area—this is downtown Creston,” said Zysblat. “The fact that we have two of them side by side, in such an accessible location, makes them more unique and more valuable than most grain elevators in the entire country.”
Before winter sets in, the first step will be to keep out weather and birds by replacing the roofs and windows. Additional repairs and restoration will take place once the future use of these elevators has been decided.
“There are lots of potential uses, and when the time comes we’ll engage with the community to consider the options,” said Strilaeff. “The key is to give them a modern purpose—they won’t just be part of the landscape, but actually useful.”
Ron Toyota, Mayor of Creston, is also enthusiastic about these elevators’ new lease on life. “These elevators have become a downtown Creston landmark and identity that enhances our community, and their history to the Creston Valley is considerable,” he said. “I was born and raised in Creston and these icons are significant to my memories. I believe their preservation will benefit our community immensely.”
Preserving heritage is one of the Trust’s strategic priorities. It delivers on it in ways like its Built Heritage Grants and Heritage, Museum and Archive Grants. To learn more, visit ourtrust.org/heritage.