Exploring the urban ruins of Saskatoon: Photo Essay

The Parrish and Heimbecker mill is one of the city’s most iconic buildings

It’s one of Saskatoon’s most iconic buildings. And, given it’s massive cement structure, it’s also something of a landmark for the neighbourhood, a foreboding-looking edifice that is visible from all over the city.

The Parrish and Heimbecker elevator is an urban industrial monument unique in its architecture, a stone canvas for graffiti artists and, upon closer inspection, a place for pigeons to dump scads of chalky white excrement. There’s also lots of cool things to look at and climb on if you are into that sort of thing.

It currently sits in non-production, or at least something like it – the previous inhabitants, New-Life Feeds, have since vacated and moved their operations to Clavet, SK.

However, just because the building is more or less empty now doesn’t mean it will be completely abandoned, at least not if the structure’s storied history has a say. The mill has changed hands at least several times throughout the millennium.

According to documents obtained from the City of Saskatoon (which can be viewed HERE), “the present-day Parrish and Heimbecker elevator and feed mill at 515 Avenue N South stands on the site of one of Saskatoon’s oldest successful industries.”

The Quaker Oats Mill bought Saskatoon’s first flourmill, the Saskatoon Milling Company, in 1912. Business proved to be prosperous throughout the 1920’s despite a fire in 1919 that destroyed one of the elevators, which was quickly rebuilt. During the drought and depression of the 1930’s, business slowed down only to pick up again during the war, which became the Mill’s period of greatest product output. By 1963, it was reported that business had dropped by half and operations were scaled back. By the time it shut down, on July 1, 1972, the number of employees had been reduced to 125 from 250 during its operational peak. Parrish and Heimbecker purchased the plant in 1973.

There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of an official word of what fate will befall the Parrish and Heimbecker building – what exactly does one do with an abandoned, Detroit-esque, gargantuan mill fortress anyway?

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