Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Only Three Twelve Sided Barns in Canada

In Canada there are only 3-twelve sided barns. (There are many more in the USA). One is in the province of Quebec in the little historic village of Mystic. That barn, which is on the front cover of my latest book, "Barn Building," has many extraordinary features. Not only has it twelve sides but it has twelve distinct roofs as well. You can see and read more about that one in my book.
The other two are located in the north, near Iron Bridge, Ontario, which is haflway between Sudbury and Sault Ste marie. Now what are two complicated barns doing up north where Lake Huron's warming affects give farmers a short growing season and the Canadian Shield, starting just north of the lake, prevents anymore farming altogether.
The three barn's construction are related, so the story goes which is gathered from a few different sources. While the Mystic barn was built in 1882, one of the workers there moved all the way to the Iron Bridge area and built this 62-foot diameter barn pictured here in 1919. One of his workers who helped, then built the 3rd 12-sided barn about 1 mile away in 1928. Amazing how these things work out and are related.
The period beginning in 1900 was a boom time for towns and farmers in this area as the last of the great pine forests growing there were being cut down to build the cities of North America. Farmers had huge demands not only for produce and meat, but hay and grain to feed the hundreds of horses needed to log the bushes in the surrounding areas. By the 1920's it was all over, most of the good pockets of pine were logged out and then the Great Depression came, wiping out demand.
Luckily both barns are still standing and I was fortunate to have been invited on the annual barn tour up there by farmer and organizer Will Samis. "Barns are our biggest antiques," Will says. He is so right. And there is an effort to save this barn and move it down the road about 10 miles to the hamlet of Sowerby as a meeting place, dance hall, art display, antique impliment display-- a kind of museum with a social flair. The owners of the barn don't farm and don't really want it and have given to the local Heritage Farm Building tour buffs. They recieved a grant from the Ministry of Culture to take the barn down, preserve all the working timber frame pieces, and put it back up.
And, I have been asked to supervise and organize this event. Oh boy, what a fantastic challenge. And here is another coincidence. My Amish neighbour, who made the windows for my house 10 years ago and has tons of building expeience, moved up to Iron Bridge last year. I got to visit with him and his family when I was there. So... I've asked him and his brothers to help with the barn, and even though they are very busy carving a new life out of this northern frontier, he wrote me a letter recently saying he would help. It's going to be a great challenge, but fun for all as well. We'll see this summer.

1 comment:

ColeNi said...

That sounds like an awesome project. Literally! Pretty cool stuff though.