In the 18th and 19th century, the migration of agricultural settlers created the need for barns. There was even a time when Ontario was giving away land to those who would clear and farm the land. Of course there were many stipulations for a new settler to ultimately own the land. Local communities would gather to help a local resident build a new barn (a.k.a. barn raising). There were many types of barns depending on the use.
Almost all of the barns built in the 1800's and early 1900's were made from locally felled trees. Farmers were great at utilizing materials within their grasp, as transportation was difficult and time consuming. Barns in Ontario usually have two giant doors opening up to the threshing area, where the seasons crops were processed. Lower levels were used mostly for livestock.
At the close of the season, the threshing floor is usually filled with farm machinery. During the autumn and winter, hay is lowered by chute to the cattle and other livestock below. The stalls where the animals were housed usually had wooden doors on tracks or hinges. Often in the livestock stalls you would see evidence where horses/cattle would nibble and rub against the wood adding character to the wood cladding.
Unfortunately, many of these majestic barns are aging and starting to fall down.
It’s sad to see barns leave the face of the landscape, but there are times when these great structures must come down due to poor condition, safety hazards and non-use. The barn board is hanging off, the timbers are falling down and the threshing floor has collapsed to the lower level. Some of these barn structures can be very dangerous if in ill repair.
Barn removal can be very dangerous, and it takes a specialized team to dismantle them safely and correctly. If the barn dismantling is done without care for the materials it can render the material useless. If the barn dismantling is done with proper care, there can be an abundance of reusable wood materials.
The barn board used in these antique barns are mostly from local old growth trees which were cut by the settlers while clearing the land to set stage for a new generation of farmers. The siding of these barns "barn board" or also known as "grey board" and "brown board" were milled mostly from pine and hemlock, as was the threshing and most of the structural members.
The siding of barns can vary greatly depending on the overall exposure of the individual wall, taking into consideration wind exposure and age. Walls in full sun tend to have more silver grey barn board then walls with full shade. Walls with full wind exposure have a greater chance of having deeper wear grooves in the early/late wood from wind-blown dust (Mother Nature’s sandblasting). These exterior boards are referred to as Grey Board. Brown board is the back side of the grey board (interior of barn) which has not been exposed to the external elements. The boards of the barn are usually butted up against each other as close as possible.
Barn boards can be used for many applications such as feature walls, ceilings, cladding, doors, table tops, accent pieces, shelving and much more.
When barns are being dismantled, there are often other treasures found within such as doors and hardware. Many of the finds from the early barns are all hand crafted materials, such as mortise and tenon doors, hand hammered metal hinges/latches/knobs.
Copyright © 2012 Urban Tree Salvage