Do you have a barn? Does it have history? Tell me about it!
I have written on several occasions about the barn on our property. It is the most exquisite barn (in my humble opinion). For me, the barn was the reason we chose this little piece of heaven.
When we purchased our homestead, it was a horse farm. The previous owners owned three horses with plans to double their stables. When we walked into the barn it smelled of horses – grains, hay, oak planks. There is no other smell that evokes a 100 images in the time it takes to breathe. I’m no equestrian, but I closed my eyes thinking, yes, this is home.
Touching the wood and hardware on the half door to this wondrous edifice inspired images of awe. I had never been in a building so grand or old (well, not on this side of the continent.) It had been recently whitewashed downstairs and the owners were in the midst of building four more stalls. It was in pristine shape – you could have eaten off the floors. Beautiful.
Upstairs housed hay and straw. It was timber-frame construction with 20-foot ceilings. There was a rope swing dangling from the main rafter and my inner child begged to swing from it. Pigeons flew in and out of the window at the very top. They seemed surprised by our visit. Feathers floated from above like large snowflakes. Splats of pigeon poop decorated every flat surface.
Then there was The Room. Ernie Severn, who once owned this property, had built a workshop of sorts just before he passed away. A huge sliding door allowed for large pieces to be brought in easily. A screened door allowed access when the big door was not in use. Inside housed counters, electrical outlets, hooks and pegged walls.
For me, this room was the deal maker! I loved it. It spoke of quiet summer days and nights of reading, writing, baseball games on the radio and my favourite music playlists beguiling me. I looked at my husband and nodded a desperate “yes” with my eyes (okay, so I can’t play poker!)
In the months after we took possession, I heard a story from a gentleman who told me that our barn was the oldest barn in Dufferin County, and my chest swelled with pride. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but my inner voice told me it was a keeper and I’m glad I listened.
The Quinns, who owned the barn a very long time ago, had more land back then, grew tobacco and employed many of the locals. When Ernie and Olga took possession, Ernie was fully ensconced with auctioneering and used it to house antiques in need of TLC and antique cars. They would have corn roasts with his car club buddies, turning the place into party central!
Fast forward 40 years – my husband and I organized a 50th birthday party for a couple of friends. Some 120 people, square dances, DJs, and a live band later, we had made our mark on the Town Line!
It was only after meeting Olga that I heard about their dances and realised we were drawn to this place, probably by Ernie (who passed on several years before), to bring some life back into the old gal! It is by far the greatest party palace I have had the joy to be part of. Mind you, so is our house, but again, I think that goes back to the great karma that the Severns left behind. It just needed to be uncorked!
Records show the barn was standing as far back as 1898. It is rumoured to have burnt down prior to that and rebuilt. Local entrepreneurs Joe and Jim Penelton repaired the building as required. Their signatures are everywhere on the property. The log barn, the house. It is steeped with history and tradition. It radiates everywhere.
Though we don’t house animals in the barn, we endeavour to keep the integrity of the edifice in good working order. My husband chinked the stone foundation a few years ago. We installed new eavestroughs and replaced barn boards when bad weather or angry pigeons kicked them out! Six years ago we lived in Ernie’s room for three months while the house was being renovated. Now that was a camping trip to remember! There isn’t an inch of that barn that I have not inspected, touched, scented or embraced. I love this barn. I could live in it forever.
Do you have a barn? Does it have history? Tell me about it, invite me over to see it, I’d love to tell others about it. These barns are becoming extinct before our very eyes. If we do nothing else, let’s honour their history before they and we disappear.