Description of Historic Place
The Gilbert Plains Beef Ring Building is a small wood-frame structure on a rural lot near Gilbert Plains. The municipal designation applies to the one-storey building and its grounds.
The Gilbert Plains Beef Ring Building, small, unassuming and purposeful, recalls the innovative ways by which prairie pioneers confronted their environment. Essentially a small slaughterhouse, this structure, completed in 1923, facilitated the co-operative efforts of a rural community to ensure a supply of fresh beef in times before refrigerated storage was available. Each week during the summer a member of the Beef Ring supplied a steer to be kept overnight in the holding stall, killed and butchered in the compact but ingeniously equipped main room and then shared. The utilitarian building thus belies its internal inventiveness: like the inclusion of a holding stall separate from the killing floor, the large wooden built-in hoist for lifting the carcass, a metal ring embedded in the concrete floor to secure the animal before slaughter, and the row of large nails along two walls, each numbered, where the members' portions of beef were placed in sugar sacks. This local undertaking, which at its peak included 24 families, operated until 1951 when improved services, notably rural electrification, made it unnecessary. The building, strategically situated on the Russell Trail (a locally important settlement route), has been carefully restored and is now a local landmark.
Source: Rural Municipality of Gilbert Plains By-law No. 2006-04, September 26, 2006
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Gilbert Plains Beef Ring Building site include:
- its rural location on the Russell Trail south of Gilbert Plains, surrounded by agricultural fields
- the building's placement, facing north, close to and readily visible from the road
Key elements that define the building's straightforward exterior character include:
- the vertical emphasis evident in the tall narrow rectangular one-storey form, of wood-frame construction under a moderately pitched gable roof, with a lower gable-roofed extension on the southeast corner
- the functional features, such as open windows fitted with heavy screens, the narrow ventilation shaft centred on the roof, the separate entrance to the holding stall, etc.
- the simple materials, such as horizontal wood siding with plain trim, wood shingles, exposed rafters, etc.
Key interior elements that define the building's character and slaughterhouse function include:
- the two-chamber layout, with the main volume abutted by the holding stall
- the simple finishes and materials, including exposed studs and rafters, a rough concrete floor and walls strengthened by concrete on the lower portion
- the large wooden built-in hoist, consisting of a wide wheel on an axle suspended about two metres above the floor on stout posts and controlled by thick ropes wound on a lower crank, also of wood
- functional details such as the metal ring in the concrete floor, the row of large nails along two walls, etc.