Heritage Highlights: Corn boom changed MB agriculture

The corn dryer model was built in 1994 by Peter N. Kroeker, grandson of Peter Kroeker of Winnipeg. The corn dryer model can be seen on display in the Winkler Heritage Museum where it is on loan from Kroeker Farms Ltd. (SUPPLIED PHOTO)

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The corn dryer depicted here, the first in Western Canada, played a pivotal role in weaning Prairie agriculture from its dependence on grain. It led the way to row-crop diversification.
The original building was erected by Abram A. Kroeker, a teacher-minister-entrepreneur who farmed seven miles southeast of Winkler, Manitoba.
In 1932, Kroeker and his young family planted forty acres of corn. As the first farmer in the province to grow commercial corn, it was not easy to break with tradition and acquired the necessary equipment for the switch to row crops.
Abe Kroeker and his oldest son, Walter, adapted for local conditions a system of corn drying used at the University of Wisconsin. What resulted in 1936 was the structure depicted here, Canada’s first corn-drying kiln. That foray into commercial corn drying became the occasion that same year to formerly organize the A. A. Kroeker & Sons farming corporation, known today as Kroeker Farms Limited. The project was a great success. One farm periodical of the day observed that as a result of the innovative methods used by Abe Kroeker “corn is no longer a gamble…it is an investment.”
Within a decade, the corn dryer was surpassed by newer technology, but the stage had been set for other new applications – by sunflowers, sunflower oil processing, sugar beets and potatoes. Kroeker’s corn project had assured the development of a row-crop farm economy in southern Manitoba.
All information is taken from the write-up that is with the model.

Heritage Highlights, supplied by the Winkler Heritage Society, introduces readers to the people, places and things that still impact us today. The Winkler Heritage Museum is located in the Southland Mall and is open Tuesday to Friday, 12 to 4 p.m., Saturdays 10 am – 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. t Thursday evenings. The Archives located in the Winkler Centennial Library are open Wednesdays from 3 to 5 p.m.. For appointments call archivist Ed Falk at 204-325-8929. The Stones and Stories binders are on display at both locations. Come for a visit! One way of showing support for the Winkler Heritage Society (Archives, Stones & Stories and Museum) is by becoming a member of the Society. Forms may be picked up at both the Archives and Museum.

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