Saturday, May 16, 2009

Hat to the Park Virtual trip

Morning Marston

Report # 20 809 Km 2691km to go

I forgot to mention, for those who may not have ever been out to the west, there are three things which distinguished every hamlet, town or city.
First, the Railway Station, 2 Nd, the Grain Elevator, and third the water tower.
Today, all three have either disapeared or have been pushed into the background for more modern conveniences. Still where they exist today, they are the point from which you can very cleary see, the town began its spread outwards. This was where the " Main Street" was strategically located so that merchants could be close to the rail line so as to receive and ship their goods. They also wanted to be handy to the famers who brought in their grain to sell and had hot fresh money in their pockets to spend. The water towers came later but their height and visability made them a perfect bill board to display the town name which could be seen for miles by any one coming that way. So when you see those three things showing up again and again in old and not so old photos, you now know why.

Also before time removes all evidence of the old wooden grain elevators, I have encluded pictures of the inside of one. This is where " few men have dared to go".
As big as they were, they contained mostly space. Except for the weigh scales and the sorting mechanism it was just a huge wooden box with compartments or bins The scales weighed the trucks when full, then weighed them again when empty to determine the weight of the grain. The sorter seperated the various types of grain into their respective bins. until the grain cars could be lined up under the auger to be filled and hauled away. With the amount of dust created in the process, its a credit to the operators that more were not burnt down or blown up.

As you can see from the name on the elevator, I have arrived at Gravelbourg, Sask. This is still a vibrant place with everything arranged as described above, and was named after Father Louis, Joseph, Pierre, Gravel who lived from 1868 to 1926, a very exciting time to be alive in western Canada. I think with all those first names, this was the only child Mr and Mrs Gravel were expecting to have but in fact he had 3 other equally famous brothers, all of whom got only one first name.
Dr Henri Gravel, Sam Gravel of the North West Mounted Police and journalist Wilfred Gravel . .

When Geoff Mack wrote the song " I've been everywhere, man", later made popular by both Hank Snow and Johnny Cash, he was looking for " Obscure places" and included Gravelbourg to his list. With a Roman Catholic Francafone foundation, a beautiful cathedral was built for the flourishing diocese. In spite of the high expectations, the demise of the railway also brought the demise of the town. Today there is a population of just over a thousand and that figure continues to decline.

More about Gravelbourg in the next report

Weather is expected to be clear and a high in the mid twenties, looking forward to that

Doug G

Thanks Doug

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