The Grain Academy that has been a fixture in Calgary’s Stampede Park since the early 1980s has found its new home at the Pioneer Acres of Alberta museum in Irricana.
“The Grain Academy has found a good home here,” said Shelly McElroy, Pioneer Acres’ curator and general manager.
The exhibit features artefacts and exhibits documenting the production and transportation of grain from the early pioneering days to modern times.
According to McElroy, the exhibit had been set up on the second floor of Calgary’s BMO Centre since 1981. Pioneer Acres' staff were first approached in September 2019 to see if the Irricana-based museum would be the right fit.
Not long after, a decision was made to grant Pioneer Acres the exhibit.
Jim Anderson, the former executive director and curator with the Wheat Pool Grain Museum Society, said renovations and upgrades to the BMO Centre meant the Grain Academy’s lease was terminated this year.
“There wasn’t any more room for us on Stampede Park,” said Anderson. “That is why it had to come to an end.”
After receiving notice, Anderson said the society approached roughly a dozen different organizations to find a new home for the exhibit. He added the process of finding an ideal spot lasted more than a year, and that Pioneer Acres was the “most friendly” choice for the society.
“We went out and had a look at the facility where they were going to put the Grain Academy,” Anderson said. “It was a pretty good spot, so that is where we decided to go.”
The Grain Academy takes up the front half of one of Pioneer Acre’s buildings. The exhibit features a restored boxcar from 1906 and a dissected working grain elevator, along with many tools and other items used in the early days of Alberta’s agriculture production.
McElroy said without all of the volunteers that were involved to help make the transition from Stampede Park to Pioneer Acres, the acquisition could not have happened.
“It must be thousands of hours donated,” said McElroy. “We had people that had a lot of expertise. It is built to last.”
McElroy said the opening was initially delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Grain Academy is now up and running for everyone to see.
“This has been a feel good story for us,” said McElroy. “ Everybody worked so hard, and we all knew it would come together.”
Visitors can see Pioneer Acre’s newest edition and everything else the museum has to offer from Thursday to Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum is located just north of Irricana, off Township Road 274.