Historic Sites of Manitoba: Canada Malting Malthouse and Grain Elevator (1051 Coulter Avenue, Winnipeg)
At the core of this facility in west Winnipeg is the grain elevator from a former malthouse, a facility for malting barley for the brewing industry, built in late 1905 for the Toronto-based Canada Malting Company. Based on designs of the local architectural firm of Darling, Pearson & Over, the five-storey white brick structure contained machinery for producing up to 400,00 bushels of malt per year. Track frontage on the Canadian Pacific Railway facilitated the arrival of barley used in the malting process, and the shipment of malted barley to customers.
Malting took place over a period of 15 days using a pneumatic system, the only one west of the Great Lakes in Canada, to achieve higher speed and greater cleanliness than traditional malting systems in use at that time. Thirty-five men oversaw the operation and electricity to run the machinery was provided by a steam-powered generator in the basement. Barley from the grain elevator was transferred to the fourth floor of the malthouse where it was deposited in four 1,000-bushel tubs and soaked with clean water for 48 to 100 hours depending on the season. The moist grain was then allowed to germinate, turning starch in the grain into sugar over a period of eight days while pure, moist air blew over it, in four 1,800-bushel tanks on the main floor. The germinated grain was then dried for 48 to 72 hours in a fired kiln on the third floor then matured for two to three months in the grain elevator, at which time it was ready for delivery to brewers.
A 1911 plant expansion was designed by James Stewart and Company of Chicago. Additional concrete bins were added to the elevator in 1927 and 1936. Purchased by the Australia-based All-State Grain Company in early 1986, the bins were used by its subsidiary Elders Grain Company for storage and shipment of all types of grain. Equipment in the former malthouse was removed and the space was converted into a commercial facility for rearing fish (rainbow trout, arctic char, and kokanee salmon) under the name of the Elders Aqua Farms Limited.
In April 1990, the entire facility was sold to the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool. Grain handling and fish farming continued under the Pool’s AgPro subsidiary until the aquaculture project was closed in 1994. The grain elevator continues in operation, under the Viterra name as of 2007.
Photos & Coordinates
“Warehouses and factories,” Winnipeg Tribune, 16 December 1905, page 17.
“Canada Malting Co.’s plant,” Manitoba Free Press, 6 December 1906, page 17.
“Malting factory credit to city,” Manitoba Free Press, 11 July 1907, page 51.
“Many permits issued this week in Winnipeg for substantial houses,” Manitoba Free Press, 28 May 1927, page 36.
“Grain company growing fish,” Hamiota Echo, 5 July 1988, page 15.
“Wheat Pool deal with Elders includes Winnipeg terminals,” Winnipeg Free Press, 6 April 1990, page 18.
“Sale saves Winnipeg fish farm jobs,” Winnipeg Free Press, 9 August 1990, page 20.
We thank Peter Flengeris (Viterra Inc.) for providing information used here.
Page revised: 7 July 2019
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