Description of Historic Place
The Esterhazy Flour Mill is a Provincial Heritage Property located at 517 Smith-Dorrien Street in the Town of Esterhazy. The property features a heavy timber-frame flour mill and wood-crib grain elevator constructed in 1906-1907, a wood-frame office and storage facility, two wood-frame sheds, a wood-frame engine room, and metal-frame oil storage shed.
The heritage value of the Esterhazy Flour Mill lies in its status as the oldest and most intact timber-construction flour mill in Saskatchewan. Constructed in 1906-07, it features most of the original equipment, furnishings and interior special arrangements from its operation as a flour mill. These features, combined with the timber construction, combine to make the Esterhazy Flour Mill a unique example of an early 20th-century flour mill in Saskatchewan.
The heritage value of the Esterhazy Flour Mill also lies in its materials and form, particularly the conjoined but distinguishable flour mill and grain elevator. The wood-crib elevator portion of the facility displays an unusual roofline with an offset cupola, a design feature common to early prairie grain elevators. This type of elevator, with its shorter stature and narrow cupola, was superseded by the “standard plan” sloping-shoulder style which became common in the decades to follow. The adjoining flour mill is of post and beam construction. The large heavy timber beams running throughout the structure were required to support the heavy milling equipment and flour storage. The Esterhazy facility contains much of its original equipment, which was designed to mill the harder, protein rich grains grown in Saskatchewan. The hardwood flooring in the milling area, a refined material in contrast to the industrial atmosphere elsewhere in the mill, could be easily cleaned and signifies a level of hygiene necessary for food production.
The Esterhazy Flour Mill is also significant because of its association with the development of agriculture and the prairie economy in the late 19th and early 20th century. Local flour mills such as this were vital industries in small communities and provided an important market for locally grown grains. Farmers hauled their crop to the local mill, where they exchanged it for flour, bran and other milled products. A portion of their crop was also sold to the mill for cash. For early settlers, proximity to a flour mill was an important consideration when choosing a homestead. Mill towns also attracted other business which in turn provided services to the local farmers. As the export of flour became more expensive in relation to raw grain, small community-based mills such as this were rendered obsolete and supplanted by Ontario-based milling facilities. Nevertheless, community-based mills were one of Saskatchewan’s earliest agricultural processing ventures.
Province of Saskatchewan, Notice of Intention to Designate as Provincial Heritage Property under The Heritage Property Act, July 26, 2004.
Province of Saskatchewan, Order to Designate as Provincial Heritage Property under The Heritage Property Act, February 8, 2005.
The heritage value of the Esterhazy Flour Mill resides in the following character-defining elements:
- those elements reflecting the building’s use as a flour mill, including grinders, sifters, bucket elevator, bagging machines, pulleys, and signage;
- those elements reflecting the building’s form and design, including the crib construction of the elevator, cupola, heavy timber structure of the flour mill, the wood-frame structure of the office and storage sheds, the hardwood floor of the mill, and the wood paneling in the office;
- those elements which speak to its status as the oldest timber-construction flour mill in Saskatchewan, including its orientation on original site.