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Iconic grain elevators morph into little free libraries in Innisfail

Men's Shed Innisfail and Little Free Library Innisfail look to the past to create a pair of new little free libraries for two local neighbourhoods

INNISFAIL – The town’s once impressive longstanding group of country grain elevators is making a comeback.

However, instead of being a valuable asset for economic prosperity the iconic structures could soon become a neighbourhood symbol for accessible reading and learning.

The town’s last 70-foot-tall country grain elevator was demolished more than a quarter century ago but over the past two years commemorative miniatures have been created by Town of Innisfail employees for White Rock Crossing and near the intersection of 50 Street and Hwy. 2A.

Both look nice and authentic and have a practical use.

However, two new miniatures created in partnership by Little Free Library Innisfail and Men's Shed Innisfail have a different agenda; they have been created to be quick neighbourhood stops for learning, reading and community partnership; take a book and bring another back.

But like the ones previously created they were also built to inspire reflection, admiration and respect for the past.

During the afternoon of Oct. 20, representatives of Little Free Library Innisfail and Men's Shed Innisfail unveiled little free libraries at Raspberry Park and in the Westwood Court neighbourhood.

The new little free library at Raspberry Park is a five-and-a half-foot tall by four-foot wide by four-foot-deep model of Innisfail’s long demolished United Grain Growers (UGG) country grain elevator.

The one later unveiled in the Westwood Court neighbourhood on 43rd Street between 56th and 57th avenues is a miniature of the still standing Niobe country grain elevator; a former Alberta Wheat Pool structure four kilometres north of Innisfail now owned and operated by Canada Malting Co. Ltd.

Ryan Dodd, director of grain at Canada Malting Co. Ltd., attended the unveiling and was proud of his company’s decision to sponsor the community project.

 “I've been fortunate to work in this one since about 1995. There's a lot of history in that elevator; all the guys that used to run that facility and the great farmers - the people who built Innisfail,” said Dodd, adding his company jumped at the invitation to be a sponsor of the little free library project.

Brad Watson is a member of Men’s Shed Innisfail and the coordinator of the Little Free Library Innisfail Facebook page.

He said the project received support and help from volunteers of the Innisfail Art Club and the Innisfail Welcoming & Inclusive Community Committee.

“It's a community effort. It’s important how we're engaging everyone,” said Watson.

He said the two new additions gives Innisfail a current total of five little free libraries, with another coming soon from a new separate project.

“For a small kid who comes to play at the playground, to be able to grab a book and go home and love it, that just makes me feel warm inside,” said Watson.

Johnnie Bachusky

About the Author: Johnnie Bachusky

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