All my Grandparents homesteaded there and my parents farmed in that area until we moved into Swift Current when I was in grade 4. I completed school in Swift Current but in 1976 my wife and I moved back to Orkney and I was the Elevator Manager there when the Paterson Orkney elevator first opened. I ran it for the first three years that it was open so I have many fond memories about living and working there. (My wife is originally from Masefield just east of Orkney.)
There is some interesting history behind that elevator. The Sask Wheat Pool owned all the elevators on that branch line and told the Orkney area farmers that they were shutting down the elevators in Orkney and that they would have to haul their grain to Bracken and Val Marie. The farmers formed a committee and tried to get the Wheat Pool to keep the Orkney elevators open but the Pool refused.
The committee was lead by a very determined and smart group of farmers. The farmer's discussions with the Wheat Pool became very bitter and heated because they felt the Pool was being heavy handed when dealing with them. So the farmers boycotted the Pool and refused to haul them any grain anywhere and they started to load their own grain cars. They also approached Paterson Grain to build an elevator there, the Pool never thought that it would happen but after some analysis of the business potential Paterson agreed to build an elevator in Orkney.
The day the elevator opened...July 31,1976 there was large grand opening celebration and dance...it was quite a day! The theme of the day was "Orkney...the mouse that roared"! The elevator looks old and tired now but when it was new it was the largest and most modern elevator that Paterson grain had. The first week we opened we set a company record for the most grain handled in one week and the elevator was full in 5 days. The Pool elevators stayed open for a while after we opened...we bought over 150,000 bushels of grain and they bought one small truck load. Farmers hauled to us from as far away as north of Val Marie and west of Climax just to make a point to the Pool.
The Orkney elevator handled the most grain in the Paterson elevator system for years and was one of the larger grain handling facilities in Sask. by volume during the first years of operation. On some very busy days we had up to 30 trucks lined up waiting to be unloaded. That elevator was a thorn in the Wheat Pools side for years after it opened.