What normal person travels over two hours for a cup of tea and a slice of pie? Well, let me tell you about a place where the tea and pie are WORTH driving over two hours for.
I took a Sunday drive out to Acadia Valley because I heard there was an amazing elevator museum and tearoom there. Now, if you’ve never been to Acadia Valley before, the one thing you don’t have to worry about is rush hour traffic! It’s a wonderful hamlet just south of Oyen on Highway 41 and north of the Red Deer River. Coming from Duchess, I hit some of the construction headed up to Dinosaur Provincial Park, but by the time I hit the Triple Nickel (Highway 555), it was nothing but blue skies, white sage and yellow canola fields.
But back to the purpose of this trip.
Grain elevators were prairie sentinels dotted across the landscape and a landmark for thousands of rural communities. In Acadia Valley, that towering structure still beckons visitors from afar in its latest role as a prairie museum. You can take a guided tour where the knowledgeable staff will tell you about this particular elevator’s history, and how these giant grain storage and transfer stations operated. This is one of a very few wooden grain elevators still standing in Alberta, and visitors have access to several parts of this amazing place. You can even run your hand along the grain-worn wood; feeling the history firsthand.
Also on-site is an out building furnished to show how everyday life would have been for people nearly 100 years ago. It’s an old wood grain bin that would scarcely hold a modern truckload today, but serves as a reminder of how things once were.
Speaking of things celebrating a century of history, the Teahouse itself is an Aladdin home. These were catalog houses that one ordered through the mail. Think of it as the ultimate IKEA project. The Teahouse itself was thought to be originally ordered in 1917, and is still standing strong. Rooms throughout the house are like a trip back in time, decorated in stunning detail to reflect a simpler time. You might be surprised how the master bedroom compares to a typical home today (especially for people who love lots of closet space – that was at a premium 100 years ago!).
What impressed me most about my visit was the level of community spirit. Hundreds of items were donated by local families to fill the museum and Teahouse. Items like grain cheques from the 1940s, specialized tools handcrafted by a talented blacksmith, and household goods whose brand names have long since disappeared from the store shelves. The museum and teahouse rely on local residents as staff, so your visit helps drive the economy of Acadia Valley. In return, you get an authentic experience from someone whose relatives most likely donated their family treasures to this unique and special place.
Top Tips for your Visit
1. Bring Cash – The Teahouse doesn’t accept plastic payment – no debit or credit cards here, but the sign on the door says cash is welcome. Don’t forget to tip and sign the guest book!
2. Give Yourself Time – The grounds are full of agricultural equipment to discover, plus the Teahouse and elevator are full of interesting antiques furnished by area locals. I’d say give yourself about two hours to comfortably tour around – and enjoy some delicious treats!
3. Bring the Kids – Especially if you have a child obsessed with trains or farm machinery, they’ll love the chance to get up close to these items. You can even go inside a caboose on site!
4. Don’t Forget the Camera – Do I really even need to recommend that point? Of course you’ll want a selfie!
The Prairie Elevator Museum and Teahouse is open through July and August from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.