Come Explore the Fully Restored Silos & Barn!
Join Us in the Next Phase of Building Oustanding Interpretive and Educational Displays
Since 2015 VHEMI has been been working with our membership, the Province of New Brunswick's Tourism, Heritage and Culture Department, The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and Parks Canada to raise funds to enable the restoration and conservation of the iconic Van Horne livestock barn. The barn was designed and constructed in 1899 by Edward Maxwell and Sir William Van Horne and unfortunately, over the subsequent 115 years, the cladding of the building deteriorated and it was found that water was leading to timber decay in a number of areas. Based on a Historic Assessment Report conducted in the Fall of 2015 the work was focused on repairing existing damage, halting further deterioration and at the same time restoring the main features of the barn to their original design.
Two of the many character-defining elements of the barn on Ministers Island are the twin silos with asymmetrical and unique ventilators. After a storm in February of 2016 the silos were damaged as illustrated in the photo to the top left. We immediately launched fund raising activities and in December 2016 the work on the silos was completed. In May 2017 Phases 1 and 2 of the restoration were completed as captured in the photo to the left and center. In June of 2018 all of the structural internal and external repairs were completed under the superivsion of the Province's Department of Transport and Infrastructure and the barn now truly reflects its original splendour and magnificence. (See bottom photo and slideshow on this page.)
With the final restoration work now completed from the top to the bottom of the barn, we are welcoming the public to explore and learn more about the innovative aspects of animal husbandry and farming practiced by the Van Hornes. A special feature of the barn is now the spectacular stairways in the silos which provide access to both the upper and lower floors. Visitors are now able to marvel at the 'shipbuilding' workmanship of the interior structure and then descend to the milking stalls and calfing pens in the lower levels. Interpretive displays of farming equipment are now being assembled with more pieces on their way, particularly if you happen to be harbouring some period pieces and are open to donating them.
The Next Phase - Opening the Doors!
With increased safe and usable common space, it will now be possible to provide a wider range of offerings such as agricultural displays; musical performances and festivals, artisan workshops and community events. We will be expanding our interpretive and education programs particularly given the increased interest in school tours. Our visitation numbers are increasing and every year, with the barn restored thousands of visitors will get a glimpse into the history of Canada and a leading figure of Canadian business, the Canadian Pacific Railway and the arts and culture of his day.
Making it Come to Life!
While we have some engaging real-life horses on the pastures in the summer months we would like to 'animate' certain areas of the barn with some life-sized animal models. Having a full dairy herd of Dutch Belted cattle and a team of Clydesdales has certain appeal but right now we think some 'Madame Toussaud' type experiences would be a little less work in terms of clean-up. It will require some special fund raising activities to make this all come together but you've done such a great job to date we look forward to you helping with this next step.
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