Halton Hills and North Halton newspapers
Restoring a bit of history
Independent & Free Press (Georgetown, ON), 28 Jul 2006, p. 7

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Back from a week's vacation, I discovered I physically work harder while on vacation than I do while at the office. But I figure it's a good thing, giving the brain a rest and letting the muscles take over. Last week I was a barn carpenter. The barn at home is a big building, measuring 54 by 96 feet. The peak of the roof is 40 feet from the ground and the eaves are 30 feet high. Doing any work to the barn is always a big job. And after 126 years braving the elements, the old barn doors were in dire need of replacement. Two winters ago, both doors blew off their track, and I had to enlist my daughter and son-inlaw to help me push them back up in place and wire them to the old track-- in the middle of a raging snowstorm. Consequently, the past two years the doors have been wired shut making the barn virtually useless. For those who don't know, leaving the doors open on a big old barn is a recipe for disaster, especially if it becomes windy. High winds can create a high pressure area inside the barn, and if the conditions are right, that pressure can blow the roof (or the barn boards) right off the building. The time had come to replace the old doors and make them functional again. The two original doors, each measuring 12'., 8", x 7' 6" wide were made of 11"-wide pine boards. I looked into the options available, and decided, in the interest of maintaining the barn's originality, I'd replace them with the same. With a load of help from my brother-in-law Ray, we removed the old doors and took down the original track, replacing it with a new one. Tuesday morning, a truck loaded with 11"wide rough cut pine boards arrived and we were ready to start building those doors. We created a jig on the barn floor, nailing down a `square' of 2x4s, and laid the boards and braces in place, before screwing them together. Two days and lots of sweat later, Ray and I stood back and surveyed our handiwork. The doors hung on a new steel track and silently rolled back with the ease of a baby carriage. It was a moment of quiet satisfaction. I remarked to Ray how times had changed, as we'd used cordless drills to screw the doors together, as well as Skil saws and an electric impact wrench to set the lag screws into the header beam. My forefathers would have stood in disbelief. At the same time, Ray reminded me we also used the old hammer and hand saw, not to mention a crowbar to lift the doors into place. I guess some things never change. Caring for an old barn can be a daunting task, and if one takes a drive in the country, it's common to see how quickly those majestic old abandoned buildings collapse with neglect. As I survey my barn, I can only imagine how stately it must have looked 126 years ago, with its new pine lumber glowing in the sunshine. But after last week, it's once again standing proud, its new set of doors in place to protect its interior from the ravages of Mother Nature. People have mixed emotions when I talk of restoring the barn. Some are supportive, while others think I'm nuts, throwing money away. But I'll persevere. I feel that barn is a little piece of history-- and it's only right to preserve it.. Unfortunately, as I look around at other old stately buildings around town, falling victim to the wrecker's ball, I come to a sad conclusion. I'm certainly in the minority. (Ted Brown can be reached at tbrown@independentfreepress.com)

Ted Brown
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28 Jul 2006
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Restoring a bit of history