Inglis Grain Elevators National Historic Site, the best remaining example in Canada of a vintage grain elevator row.

© Jostein Hauge/Shutterstock

Inglis Grain Elevators National Historic Site

Top choice in Manitoba

For a glimpse of the vanishing past, make the detour to tiny Inglis. A stunning row of five 1920s grain elevators – the sentinels of the Manitoba prairie – are being restored to their original splendor. Inside the creaky interior of the Paterson elevator, exhibits capture the thin lives where success or failure rested upon the whims of commodity brokers.

Inglis lies 20km north of the Yellowhead Hwy (Hwy 16) near the Saskatchewan border.

Barn-red, brilliant white or tractor-green; striking yet simple; function and form: characterizing prairie landscapes like the wheat they hold, grain elevators were once flagships of prairie architecture.

They were introduced in 1880; by 1930 more than 7000 of the vertical wooden warehouses lined Canadian train tracks. Their importance was invaluable, as the prairies became 'the breadbasket of the world,' and their position next to the railway lines revolutionized the loading and sorting of grain. Meanwhile, their simple aesthetic inspired Canadian painters, photographers and writers, who gave them life. From the 1970s onwards, however, these unique wooden constructions were mostly replaced with generic concrete edifices.