Old Barns on the Aragon Road

There are five farms with historic barns along the Aragon Road. A very large barn is located just north of the Aragon Road on Battersea Road. This was once part of the Colonel Fair “empire”. Below is the series of barns, shown in a slide show, that we will tell more about.

The Hogan barn and milk house stand at the end or the Aragon Road. On the south side of the road, Hogan built his limestone house, one of the original farmsteads along our road.

The roof and the south side of the barn, shown here, seem in good shape, however, the north side of the limestone lower wall and foundation are near collapse.

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At the north side of the barn, the siding is in poor shape and the limestone wall, hidden behind the vegetation has partially collapsed.

East and north side of the barn. Photo credit: Mark Fleming, 2020

Inside the barn top floor or hayloft. Photo credit Mark Fleming, August 2020

Just think of the history represented here in the upper structure of this old barn. Long ago, before 1878 when it was already shown on maps of the area, this barn was alive with dairy cows and their calves. The space above the stalls would be jammed full of hay to feed the cattle during the winter. The Hogans would start milking at four maybe five in the morning, process it in the milk house, and ship it to market in downtown Kingston. Over the years, the boards of the barn have weathered and shrunk. The roof is in remarkably good shape, it might have been replaced one or more times during its lifetime. Note the steel roofing material. The method for making corrugating iron was originally patented in England in 1829 and by the mid-1800s it would have been readily available in Canada. One might well assume that Hogan installed corrugated metal on his barn. The big wooden cross braces that run from the bottom to the top of the back wall give it structural strength. Note the different posts: one is square, hand-planed with a broad axe from a large pine log, two are round tree trunks. The large horizontal beam is most likely re-purposed from another barn, notice the large notch that does not fit with the post. Or the post has been replaced at some time. There are some steel cables, at the top of the photo, a modern attempt to stabilise the vertical structure.

For the names of the parts see this diagram.

There is no brace in this junction of post and beam, a sign that this is a repair job done in earlier years without much regard for structural integrity and strength.

A detail of the inside wall of the stalls. Note the severe cracking and collapse of the wall and the round broken support beam reinforced by three modern dressed floor beams.

How long will this barn adorn our Aragon Road? It takes a long time for barns to collapse. And we should be grateful to the current owners, the Keirsteads, for their efforts to stabilise the structure. We remember that family members restored the south wall several years ago as a “birthday present” for James Keirstead. It took them a mighty effort to make the wall structurally sound. To fully restore this barn is most likely beyond any modern human effort and expense. The old structure should be admired for as long as she will stand.

About a kilometre to the west we reach the Cecil and Wilma Graham farm. Wilma Graham remembered much about the farm structures and how the barn in the foreground was moved from the field across the road to up on the hill.

Graham’s barns. The photo was taken around 2000. At that time the cows were fed for slaughter, the pasture near the road was poor but often the cows would be let out to feed in the fields north of the farm house. Also Cecil Graham, and later Henry would go on their “doughnut” rounds to downtown Kingston to pick up discarded food from McDonald’s and other restaurants to feed their “organically raised cattle.”
See Henry’s story End of an Era.

Winter on the Graham Farm. Seen from the west side over the fields.

How was the large barn with the white roof and parallel with the road, relocated from the field south of the Aragon Road to north of the road? The fieldstone foundation must have been built first while the wood-clad timber-framed structure was moved over a distance of about a hundred metres, uphill. Cecil and his brother and father with the help of neighbours had logs placed under the structure and with a tractor and pulleys moved it slowly to its new site. It must have taken days of hard labour. In Wilma Graham’s words: There was a barn on the south side of the road across from the field we call Kennedy’s. The barn was moved up beside our driveway and is now called our Hay Barn. Cecil and some men and several horses dragged it across the field on large beams, like a sled, then across the Aragon Road and into the location where it is now. CLICK here for more.

A small detail of a map that showed the CLERGY LANDS and the different farms around the mid-1800s. The Hogan farm is about two hundred acres, the Corrigan farm is much larger while the Ghaham farm is still relatively small. It would later be enlarged by buying smaller fields from the neighbours. The numbers in large font such as 40 for Hogan and 37-39 are the original two hundred acres plus lots the British government had surveyed. The road that meanders from bottom left to the middle of the map on the right is the Aragon Road, a “forced” road, or original cow path connecting the fields and farms. The straight road at the left from south to north is part of the grid laid out by the government, it is called the Fitzpatrick Road. The one along the top of the map is the extension of Unity Road.

The Shortell Farm was located on the west side of the Fitzpatrick Road, at what was once the Thomas Dowling Property, seen here at the left on a detail of a larger map. For the deeds and maps section on this site CLICK here. John Hogan’s land is clearly shown, including the limestone farmhouse on the south side of the Aragon Road. Below the large holdings of Dennis Corrigan is the Graham farm. Wilma tells about how the land grants for the workers on the Rideau Canal were small, 42 acres for a labourer or retired soldier. Some people sold their grant and moved on and through that process farmers would accumulate land. At least two hundred acres would be desired for a meaningful farming operation. CLICK HERE FOR MORE where Wilma talks about buying the Jas Kennedy, sub-lot 23, land, and the moving of the barn.

The photo below shows the site of the Shortell farm. The current house and a modern steel barn that were built on the site are hidden behind these dense trees. The Shortell farm had a beautiful red barn that burned down. CLICK HERE: Dollie Vallier recounts an interesting story about the Shortells.

 

Moving to the west along the Aragon Road we come to the Draper farm.

The Draper farmhouse. There is a large barn which we hope to photograph and show in this post. The Quintin’s lived here for a long time but the property was sold in 2019 to Graig and Sonya Young.

Further to the west just before the cluster of bungalows from the 1950s, there is a large barn with a farmhouse that belonged for a long time to the Lockett family. The house has been built onto and is stuccoed. A feature that shows Colonel Fair owned this property before the Locketts. Wilma Graham told us that originally this red brick farm house was identical to theirs.

 

The barns on the former Locket property. This was part of the Colonel Fair “empire”. The roof seems in good shape. Note the cattle feed storage silos to the right of the barn. Click for more here.

Fair was a rich man with roots going back to the early settler farmers in the Glenburnie area. He had made much money in insurance and international business which took him frequently to Singapore and the Far East. While he was able to accumulate money in the years between 1920-30, leading up to the great economic depression, the local farmers, affected by the hard economic times, might have needed to sell all, or part, of their properties. Fair was thus able to assemble large tracts of farmland, about 3800 acres. More about Colonel Fair later in this post.

Inside the barn, we see the timber-framed construction which was so common for these rural buildings. This is a relatively long and narrow barn.

 

Just a reminder of the parts that form the structure of a barn.

Next, just off the Aragon Road on Battersea corner Mapel Ridge Drive, formerly Bur Brook Road extension to Battersea Road is the farm of Cecil Grahams’ brother.

The barns are all in good shape except the little log-build tool shed. This farm, originally the property of one of the Graham brothers was inherited by Cecil and Wilma Graham. After they died, John Turner became the new owner.

Henry kept a large flock of sheep here.

See also Wilma remembers.

Looking north from the Aragon Road one sees the white and green barns of the former Colonel Fair farm, see slide series below. These barns were among the largest in Ontario at the time of their building. Marjory Allen recalls the history of the Hemlock Farm.

A few kilometres to the north, On the Paterson Road a large century farm owned by the Carey family recently acquired the Graham farmstead and now they cultivate the fields all the way from the Paterson Road to the Aragon Road. This land is assigned Class A farmland to be preserved under Ontario legislation.

In closing we present a slide series of different barns some almost gone, others in pristine condition. Many historic barns are no longer maintained and left to the forces of nature. Others are lovingly kept up either as buildings on a working farm or as a historic extension to a hobby farm, or equestrian centre. Here are some examples from around our area including the Kingston Mills Road, Paterson Road west of Battersea Road, Orser Road, and the village of Wilton.

To go back to the INDEX click here

One thought on “Old Barns on the Aragon Road

  1. These are SO beautiful and should be preserved. Memories of a bygone era.
    I am told that there are grants available in Quebec for this sort of thing.
    Not sure what money might be available in Ontario if any.

    Like

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