farm

The Story Of A House

 

The family who homesteaded this land came from Northern Ireland via Boston, Massachusetts. After living in Boston for a period, the family brought their son to the Alberta prairie. For a young man entering the 9th grade, life on a prairie farm required considerable adjustment. He lamented that chores had to replace participating in organized sports and that adapting to a new school environment was challenging, but soon adjusted to his new life and considered it a blessing.

He attended the Olds School of Agriculture and received his Diploma in Agriculture in 1928 and went on to have many productive years farming the family homestead. Some of the changes he saw throughout the years included the building of new churches and schools to accommodate a growing population, changes in farming methods as a result of some hard lessons learned from the Dirty Thirties, along with many technological advances.

After the owners passing, the land and buildings were sold at an auction sale in 1992.

Maple Leaf Barn

 

This barn was built in 1912 and only fell into disuse about 10 years ago. The builder's grandson still lives on and farms the same land that his ancestors made their living on.  Only one of the wooden cupolas still survives on the roof of this very large barn.     

What I believe to be a 1948 Maple Leaf badged Chevrolet sits in the farm yard. My research (which may be flawed) tells me the 1947-53 Chevrolet pick ups known as the Advance Design series were the last body style to carry the Maple Leaf badge. Maple leaf trucks were built in Oshawa, Ontario from the 1930s until the 1950s. Right hand drive models were made in Canada and assembled by Holden in Australia. Canada, Australia and other British Commonwealth countries put high tariffs on US built products because the US didn't import much from them.  Having a Canadian made truck allowed GM to offer trucks at a more affordable cost.

An Allis Chalmers AC5040 2 wheel drive tractor also sits on the property. These were manufactured in Romania from 1976-1980 with an original price of $9823USD. They were equipped with a 3 cylinder diesel that made 35 horse power.

Golden Hour Barn

 

The current landowners acquired this property in 1960. By that time all of the buildings had fallen out of use. By the late 1970's the house and other buildings had to be demolished after descending into disrepair due to vandalism. The shed on the side of the barn looks ready to fall but, the barn itself appears remarkably stable from the outside. It is believed that the barn was built sometime between 1905 and 1910.

 

 

Future Classics?

 

Here is another great Southern Alberta barn.  The owner tells me it is at least 100 years old and hasn't been in use for quite some time.  It is strange to see so many newer vehicles abandoned behind the barn.  I wonder if any will ever become as collectible as the vehicles we currently consider classics?  

Woodley Barn

 

With the rocky mountains stretching across the western horizon, this barn and house were built in 1912 on a scenic piece of the Alberta prairie. The current owners, the Woodleys, acquired the land in 2010. They were happy to let me take photos, creating memories of a structure that may fall after a couple of heavy snows. They gifted me a book that was found in the house titled “Our Country And Its' People” by W.D. McDougall and Gilbert Paterson . Inside the book, I found clippings containing information on some of the animals that were found in the area. I can imagine the owner studying the area before his long, difficult journey to the place he and his family would call home for generations to come. The Woodleys purchased the land from an elderly lady who didn't have any remaining family, so many of the details are now lost to time. 

W. Mays Barn

 

This magnificent barn was built in 1925 by Walter Mays, a carpenter originally from England. It was home to a half dozen milk cows. The current owners still use the barn today, mostly for calving. Their parents acquired the property in 1948-49. A pair of great horned owls roost under the hay loft peak during the day. They have returned every year for the last five years, nesting in the nearby trees. The first thing that caught my eye were the ornate cupolas on the roof. Their purpose is to provide ventilation for the fodder stored in the hayloft, preventing it from molding or catching fire. Originally cupolas were made of wood but, by about 1910 most were manufactured from galvanized steel.  

The Stories Behind The Structures

 

For many years I have enjoyed photographing old homesteads and landscapes found on the Alberta prairie and surrounding area. During this time I have seen many structures fall to the ground, never to be seen again. I have decided to gather as much history as possible on these subjects and share them with you on this blog. These historic structures are disappearing from our landscape, I feel that photographing them is an important form of preservation, meant to honour the structure's existence as well as those that built and cared for it. Barry Broadfoot wrote a book titled 'Next Year Country : Voices Of Prairie People'. One sentence has really stuck with me over the years. He says that “Every old home place in the west today is a monument to their (the settlers') determination”. If it wasn't for our forefather's hard work and perseverance we wouldn't enjoy many of the comforts that we have today.

If you own or know of any historic structures that you would like to share please contact me so that we can arrange a photo shoot.    

david@stubblejumperphotography.com