English barns are found from New England and the mid states to Ontario, and this little barn is a pure example of one, near Washego, north of Orillia in Ontario. Richard called me up one day to inspect it, and give him some advice on how to repair this 140 year old vintage.
This region is the northern extent of farming in this area, with the rocky shield popping up its stone outcroppings everywhere. A few pockets of good land lie here and there, otherwise it’s trees, rivers, stone and more trees.
The barn is a typical 36 foot by 54 foot English style barn, which was originally built on the ground and then moved onto a stone foundation 40 years later. That’s when livestock farming became more popular, as the area residents had more cash to buy meat. It’s a 4 bent frame, all pine from the back of the farm, with hand adzed timbers and round poles for rafters. All the horizontal girts all one piece, 10 inch by 10 inch and 36 feet long. The threshing floor is three inch thick tamarack with the two bays on either side originally used for hay/straw and grain stook storage.
There was no granary built inside, but there was a separate small building next to the barn, that was built to store the grain.
The main problem with the barn was the two foot thick stone foundation. At the south east corner, water had run in from the natural slope of the land, and after many decades, collapsed about a five foot section. The good thing was that the bottom sill plate of the barn was good all the way around. This meant that the stone could be taken out without the frame collapsing, as the plate was still locked into the corner with the other sill plate and the tenon from the post above. Richard is eager to get this part fixed and is already planning on building up the foundation again with cement blocks. A few new barn boards and some repairs to the stable supports and the barn will last another 100 years.