Wednesday, November 9, 2011


This 107 year old timber frame barn, now owned by Dan Weirmeir, is said to be the highest barn in former Bentinck Township, West Grey, Ontario, at about 40 feet high.
The four bent, 52 foot by 60 foot barn had an overhang on the south side which was closed in by Richard Weirmeir, who bought the Lot 15, Concession 11 NDR farm, located about 6 kilometers east of Elmwood, in 1960.
Robert Weirmeir, Richard’s son and Dan’s father, remembers helping to lay the first steel on the high pitched roof over top of the original cedar shingles about 40 years ago.
“It was real scary on the north corner as it was so high,” he said so he preferred nailing the steel on the south side where there was an “L” addition. “You had a 50/50 chance of bouncing off the addition,” Robert laughed.
At the beginning during the 1960’s and ‘70’s Richard had a mixed operation, like many of the local farmers. They built some stanchions in the high stables and milked six to ten cows and shipped cream. In the spring wiener pigs were bought, fattened all summer and sold in the fall. Beef cattle were grazed and housed in the stables during the winter. Pigs and cattle were sold at the Keady auction. Sometimes, Robert remembers, cattle buyers came by the farm with fat wallets, offering $250, $275 and even $300 per beef cow, all in cash, with $100 bills being counted over and over again until a deal was struck.
Everyone in Richard’s family, one son and two daughters, and his wife Helen (Halliday) helped with farm chores. Cows were milked by a simple ¾ inch vacuum pipeline and a portable milker, grain was bucketed down from the granary in the mow, through a chute to the pigs and cows below. Dan and Robert both remember the large high mow, full of square bales of straw on one side and hay on the other, being above the eaves of the barn.
Richard, who was a Bentinck councilor and deputy reeve for many years, did custom haying and combining with his Massey Harris Super 92 for many years. He would cut and bale first-cut hay for local farmers, then came the grain combining and then second-cut hay. “He was away a lot, and in between all that he would do our hay and grain,” Robert said. The 102 acre farm had “good land,” Robert says, with only about 3 acres of bush and 3 acres of rough land and the rest workable. Fields were divided into 4 and 6 acre parcels, and each field had different crops. “Farming was prosperous in the “70’s,” Robert remembers.
Originally inside the barn, there were two tracks for hay carriers, one at the peak and another on the north side, where the ramp came in. What is somewhat of a timber frame mystery is that all the outside bottoms of the posts of the barn have a four foot section beautifully scarf notched in as an extension. Looking at some of the timbers inside, there are used ones for the top plates, some girt connectors and the posts themselves. Since this barn wasn’t built until 1904, a previous barn on the farm could have been taken down and the timbers re-used. Perhaps the posts of the previous barn, or another in the area that was taken down, were too short and those extensions were notched in to allow a higher timber frame structure to be raised.
The roof rafters are round, signifying an earlier built barn, but could have been re-used from a previous one. The queen post timber frame, where the top of the bent has a long brace to meet the purlin, has timbers with sawmill and hand adzed marks, again indicating new and re-used timbers.
The main concrete ramp into the barn has a cistern underneath it which was filled by rainwater or by a pump from the well. This watered the cattle and pigs inside the stables. On the cement lid of the cistern are initials “W.W.” and the date, “1931.” Farmer Wilfred H. Wright owned this farm from 1922 until 1958 and was proud of the ramp and cistern he built.

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