105-year-old grain elevator’s fall captured on photos, video

If a 105-year-old grain elevator falls in the middle of the city, very early on a weekend morning in the spring, does it make any noise?

According to the buzz being generated in both traditional and social media this week the answer is an explosive “yes.”

The elevator in question was owned by the Parrish and Heimbecker company and since being built in 1910 it had stood tall over the southwest corner of Saskatoon. Until 6 a.m. Saturday June 20, that is.

At that precise moment some 22 pre-drilled holes, each packed with a total of about 25 kilograms of explosive, were detonated in a carefully calculated order designed to fell the elderly structure in a precise direction and with minimal collateral damage.

The plan appeared to work to perfection, if you’ll pardon the use of the word “perfection” to describe the destruction of yet another prairie icon.

One hundred and five years worth of dust was still thick in the air and the explosively displaced pigeons that called the structure home had not yet even found a new roost before the first posts were released to social media.

Commentators on local radio stations said it had been 50 years since the last building in Saskatoon had been razed using this same technique. The prospect of such a unique occurrence had, predictably, drawn a fair-sized crowd, even at that time of the morning.

These are, after all, city folk…

My colleague Robin Booker was there to capture the action from the crest of a nearby hill. Robin describes it as a mad scramble to reach the site and set up his gear, having just returned home from the Farm Progress Show in Regina late the night before.

You’d never know it from the crisp stills and fascinating video he captured of the elevator’s final moments. If you haven’t seen either yet you can check out Booker’s fine work here.

Not surprisingly, this page has been the most-visited on the WP website over the last few days.

Perhaps even more interesting is the reach Booker’s photos and video of the demolition have garnered.

Thanks to the modern marvel of website analytic tools, we’re able to determine, with considerable accuracy, where people visiting our site are from. People visiting that page have come primarily from Canada and North America. But the page has also been viewed from Europe, Asia, Oceana, and Africa.

It’s sad to see that something of such size and apparent strength can be knocked to the ground with the push of a button and the assistance of only a microwave full of explosives.

Sadder still that it seems folks are more interested in watching them be blown up than remain standing.

Contact paul.yanko@producer.com

The Parrish and Heimbecker elevator in southwest Saskatoon is felled using explosives early on the morning of June 20, 2015. | Robin Booker photo

The Parrish and Heimbecker elevator in southwest Saskatoon is felled using explosives early on the morning of June 20, 2015. | Robin Booker photo

About the author


Stories from our other publications