Ontario Barn Preservation

PRESERVING OLD ONTARIO BARNS IN THE ON-LINE WORLD: PART 1 of 5, INTRODUCTION

By Hugh Fraser, OBP Director

It should be no surprise that Ontario’s oldest barns were built where peoples of European descent first settled. However, those areas have become filled with hundreds of thousands of people since. Barns got displaced, torn down, became obsolete, crumbled from neglect, burned down, got scavenged, and were dismantled for repurposing over time. Many jurisdictions in Canada and the US have attempted to document old barns before they disappear altogether. Although a fantastic idea, this work always seems to peter out over time. As a director with Ontario Barn Preservation (OBP), I’m writing this blog as the person trying to move this initiative forward again.

The Dalziel barn, built ca 1809 in Vaughn, north of Black Creek Pioneer Village, is widely believed to be the oldest Ontario barn still standing.

This blog appears throughout November and December 2020 with the following topics that build upon each other. They explore some reasons why barn databases may have failed in the past, how OBP is trying to find ways to make it simpler, and to enlist a small army of people to do the work. If something in the blog sparks your good ideas, leave us a message by entering your comment below.

Part 1 of 5: Introduction

Part 2 of 5: What’s an old barn, and why are they difficult to document?

Part 3 of 5: Creating a consistent database

Part 4 of 5: Creating an informative database

Part 5 of 5: Creating a secure, centralized and sustainable database

Purpose of a Barn Database

Before building an old barn database, we need to understand its purpose. Here are a few:

  • Demonstrate the historical and vernacular architectural importance of barns to the rural fabric
  • Document and record the objective, subjective and observational characteristics of old barns
  • Provide researchers with information on pioneer migration and barn construction trends
  • Showcase these wonderful barns to the broader rural and non-rural population
  • Help society preserve barns in a virtual world when barns can no longer remain standing

Next time, we will explore what we mean by old barns and why they are difficult to document.

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