Sunday, November 21, 2010

Historic Dinner Plate Found Under Barn Plate

I was repairing an 1880 era timber frame barn near Tara, about 20 kilometers from Owen Sound. In front of the earthen and stone ramp the rock elm bottom plate was rotten in places and I was cutting out portions of it with a chain saw. This rock elm is incredible, for even though there was over 120 years of moisture and rot in it, the parts that were not rotted were still fresh and holding.
Anyway, as I pulled out some of the rock elm, it exposed the top of the stone foundation. The foundation is about 2 feet thick, and I had it repaired by a good stonemason that summer. In the middle of this foundation, where it is mainly just loose rocks, was a circular object. I picked it up, dusted it off and it was a dinner plate! Even though it had decades of ingrained dirt on it, it was still in good condition. I found out the plate was made between 1840 to 1865 in England and probably brought over by boat by the immigrant pioneers who settled this land.
I believe it was a gesture of good luck for the barn, put there by the owners when the barn was constructed over 120 years ago. I mean, it was perfect, a beautiful cream coloured plate, with wheat grain relief on the outside perimeter, placed under the bottom plate—a plate under a plate-- --never crushed by the tides of time, wagons full of hay, horses tromping over it on top of the floor, tractors later running up and down into the barn. And maybe it was good luck, for the barn had never burned down, been swept away by a tornado, or collapsed under heavy snows.

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