Going with the grain

September 2018

The unveiling of an historical plaque sounds like it might be an event only interesting to an historian, but on a lovely summer day in late June, just outside of Western Grain Elevator (102 Kingston Street), a plaque commemorating the national historical significance of grain transshipment at the Lakehead took place in front of a large and varied crowd.

We gathered there to hear a number of speakers talk about the important and exciting role that the Lakehead (now Thunder Bay) has played in the grain industry of Canada. Robert Paterson, the President of the Friends of the Grain Elevators, whose family has had a long history in the grain and shipping industries, was one of the speakers, and he regaled us with interesting historical facts and stories.

The Friends of the Grain Elevators did the “work on the ground” to obtain this recognition by the Historical Sites and Monuments Board of Canada and Parks Canada. They are to be congratulated on shining the spotlight on Thunder Bay and its amazing role in the grain industry and the development of Canada.

The whole event created a feeling of pride in our city’s heritage. Nancy Perozzo, a hard working member of the Friends of the Grain Elevators, summed up the unveiling beautifully when she said, “You know, it’s funny, but I underestimated the emotional impact that a simple plaque unveiling could have. I saw that impact on the faces of the people here today—many of them with deep family or personal roots in our city’s grain elevator, rail and shipping industries. It was wonderful to see, and it was also so gratifying to hear the officials speak with sincerity of the pride they felt in celebrating a really significant Canadian achievement that happened right here.”

If you’re interested in becoming a member of the Friends of the Grain Elevators or would just like to learn more about the group, visit them at www.friendsofgrainelevators.org

Karen Christie is a retired high school teacher and a regular contributor to Bayview. She can be reached at kchri@shaw.ca

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