Our latest barn repair project took us to a remote area in the Kawarthas, where patches of good farm land are rare, and pioneers who came there 150 years ago on the Monck Colonization Road, had a hard scrabble making a living from the land.
After the initial log barns, and there are still some there, small timber frame barns were built. They remain pretty well as they were built to the present day. This is because there was never any extra money to construct additions, the land and weather just didn’t yield any extras.
The wonderful thing about this area though, is that the human touch to the land has stayed static. The few farms are mostly going back into wilderness but unfortunately most barns have fallen down. That is why this barn, 30 feet by 50 feet, is so special. The older owner wants it repaired, not for her to farm, but to retain the historical evidence and beauty of the pioneer structure, for others to enjoy once she has departed.
The timber frame is small, 8 inch by 8 inch posts, smaller connectors, and round poles for rafters. There is a beautifully built quarried stone foundation that has been repaired and originally built with flat volcanic and colourful granite stones. The Canadian Shield pops up here and there, with the barn built into, not earth, but an outcrop of bedrock. The fields are mainly grown up in first trees-- dogwood, poplar with tall wild grasses and weeds, and huge ash and soft maples, as well as northern oaks, marking the original fields.
We took off the old cedar barn board, furrowed and thin with age, splintering into shards, and nailed on new pine. In the stables, we took out the rotting 15- year old cedar posts and installed new, and patched the mow floor with two inch hemlock. On a nailing girt, with the tenon broken, we added an ash spline and finally jacked up a centre post with a built-in ladder. Good for another 100 years.