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Preserving Ontario’s barns

Preserving Ontario’s barns

Ontario Barn Preservation wants to keep as many vintage barns standing as possible

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

An Ontario non-profit’s mandate is to preserve historic barns in rural communities.

Jon Radojkovic, a timber-frame barn builder from Sullivan Township near Chesley, and Krista Hulshof, an architect near Stratford who specializes in repurposing old barns, started Ontario Barn Preservation in March 2019.

“I connected with Jon and the two of us were aware of some American organizations like ours, and we wanted to start one,” Hulshof, who serves as the organization’s vice-president, told Farms.com.

Radojkovic is the organization’s president.

Keeping these old barns upright is important because they’re looking glasses into history, said Hulshof.

“These are our heritage buildings in the rural landscape,” she said. “They’ve been called the cathedrals of the fields. The craftsmanship is beautiful. They might all look the same from the outside but, on the inside, they tell stories of the farmers who built them.”

Modern barns can be erected fairly quickly using today’s tools and technology.

But a closer look at an old barn identifies the hard work that went into building the structure at the time, Hulshof said.

“You see these barns with a beam that’s 60-feet (18-metres) long, and you realize that beam was once a tree. Someone, not some machine, chopped it down, trimmed it to a square and used it to support a barn.”

The organization is in the early stages of putting together a directory of barns.

The more barns that can be explored and added to the directory, the more information the organization can collect, Hulshof said.

“We can study the types of settlers and the types of construction. We can study how different communities settled in different areas and why some barns are built in certain ways,” she said.

People who have barns on their properties who want to be part of the directory can upload photos and information about the barn directly to Ontario Barn Preservation’s website or contact the organization on its Facebook page.

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