George Payette could be Canada’s last known grain elevator repairman
By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content
George Payette is quite literally one in a million. Or in his case, one in 30 million.
The 55-year old from Roseisle, Man.could be the last known grain elevator repairman in Canada.
“There’s not many other guys out there that’ll work on grain elevators,” he told CTV Winnipeg. “I like the challenges of fixing them.”
Along with two employees, Payette maintains 103 elevators between Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
He’s been in the grain elevator repair business for almost 40 years and, as the elevators age, the demand for his services increases.
Payette recently completed a roof repair on a local farmer's elevator.
“We had to start repairing (the 92-year-old grain elevator) because it was starting to leak on the roof, so we had George come and put a new roof on it,” Murray McKinney, who farms near Waskada, Man., told CTV. “That cost about $30,000.”
Fewer grain elevators are in use and that’s mostly attributed to advancements in agriculture, according to Gordon Goldsborough, a member of the Manitoba Historical Society (MHS).
“Agriculture changed,” he told CTV. “As a result the elevators have changed, too.”
In the 1950s, Manitoba was home to more than 700 grain elevators. Today, there are less than 200, according to the MHS.
The MHS is documenting the remaining grain elevators in the province through its This Old Grain Elevator initiative, a collection of photos, locations and ownership information of various Manitoba elevators.
The oldest grain elevator in Canada, according to the MHS, is in Elva, Man., built around 1897.