Around 1981, this granary in what is now the Municipality of Swan Valley West was featured in a Manitoba Co-operator series on rural buildings. The original caption for the photograph is given below.
The age and well-preserved state of this farm building south of Swan River are obvious to the observer. What is not so obvious is the fact this has been designed and built as a granary, not a barn. Built in 1901 for A. J. Cotton, the granary is 50 feet by 36 feet and 28 feet high. The sliding doors at both ends of the two-storey structure allowed team and wagon to drive through for unloading. Grain was stored on the second floor as well. Local spruce trees provided all the building materials needed, except for cedar shingles which had to be brought in from outside the area. Located a few miles northwest of Kenville, the lumber was milled at private sawmills in the Porcupine Mountains to the north. The main timbers are six inches square, with two-inch and 12-inch joists spaced one foot apart, all resting on a durable hemlock foundation. The twin cupolas provide some ventilation but are mainly for decoration. As much as 8,000 to 10,000 bushels of grain normally could be stored in the huge double-sheeted granary, if needed. In 1915, an estimated 15,000 to 17,000 bushels were crammed wall-to-wall, ceiling to floor. Grain for the second level had to be bagged first, then raised from the wagon through one of three openings to waiting hands above. Oats were usually stored upstairs. Cleaning equipment was eventually located in the upper level. Sometimes forgotten in warm reminiscences is the fact that what you shoveled in, you also had to shovel out – in the good ol’ days. The granary is still used by the same family of grain producers. Allan B. Cotton, son of original homesteader A. J. Cotton, has retired nearby, while grandson John and great grandson Edwin now handle daily farm operations. Small wonder that the region is known to local residents as Cotton Corner.
The building is no longer standing, having been demolished in the spring of 2011.
Cotton Granary (circa 1981)
Source: Bob Hainstock
Cotton Granary (2010)
Source: Amy Cotton
Site Coordinates (lat/long): N52.02791, W101.47350
denoted by symbol on the map above
Historic Sites of Manitoba: Manitoba Co-operator Rural Buildings Series
Historic Sites of Manitoba: Cotton Barn (Municipality of Swan Valley West)
Memorable Manitobans: Almon James Cotton (1858-1942)
We thank Amy Cotton and Tod Rudge for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Bob Hainstock, Ed Ledohowski, and Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 13 May 2020
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