Historic Sites of Manitoba: Harrison Mill and Grain Elevators (Holmfield, Municipality of Killarney-Turtle Mountain)
Brothers William Salt Harrison (1856-1926) and George Harrison (1865-1938) arrived in southwestern Manitoba in 1878 and built a flour mill and sawmill at Wakopa. When the settlement was bypassed by the newly arrived railway, in 1885, the Harrisons sold their sawmill and moved it to the western end of the Turtle Mountain, and built a grist mill and elevator at Killarney. They built an elevator at Holmfield in 1892, selling their Killarney holdings in 1897, and consolidated their business activities at Holmfield.
In 1897, the Harrisons built a flour mill to process grain into flour for local farmers, that has been operated by three generations of the family. A large stone warehouse was added a year later. Originally powered by steam, the mill was converted to diesel engines in the 1930s then electrical current in 1947. An associated workshop enabled the Harrisons to make repairs on site, and they did mechanical work for others until dismantling the shop in 1955. In the 1940s, the family purchased a lumber business, and built a new lumber yard adjacent to the mill in 1962. They phased out the lumber business in 1972 but continued to mill grain until the late 1990s. The facility is believed to be the oldest mill in Western Canada.
Two grain elevators were built at Holmfield, but not at this site, in 1928 by Federal Grain Limited. They were moved here after being sold to the Harrison Milling Company in the late 1940s. The mill remains the property of the Harrison family although it has not operated since the 1990s.
1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.
Death registrations [William Salt Harrison, George Harrison], Manitoba Vital Statistics.
By the Old Mill Stream: A History of the Village of Holmfield & District by the Holmfield History Book Committee, 1982, pages 15-18.
“Holmfield mill old, but it’s no museum,” Winnipeg Free Press, 28 September 1990, page 2.
A History of Grain Elevators in Manitoba, Part 3: A Selected Inventory, Manitoba Historic Resources Branch, 1992, page 49.
“Their hearts are in Holmfield,” Winnipeg Free Press, 3 July 2001, page A10.
We thank Errick Harrison and Jean McManus for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 23 March 2019
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