Buildings on new foundation
Longview: Historic buildings getting a face lift for May
Wednesday, Apr 12, 2017 06:00 am
Two century-old buildings on a ranch south of Longview are getting a much-needed facelift this spring.
Now serving as a source of education, the slaughterhouse and implement shed at the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site were lifted off their foundations last month and new cement bases were poured.
Both are original buildings of the Bar U Ranch, which operated from 1882 to 1991 and opened to the public as a National Historic Site in 1995.
“The foundations were not in very good shape,” said Mike McLean, Bar U Ranch special projects officer. “The slaughterhouse has been in five major floods over the last two decades. It definitely needed some remediation on it.”
He said both buildings’ original foundation were sandstone.
The buildings are among 35 historic structures located on 150 hectares of land.
The slaughterhouse, on the north side of Pekisko Creek next to the corrals, is one of the early buildings at the Bar U Ranch, said McLean.
It was where cattle and pigs were slaughtered to feed the many men and women who worked on the ranch and represents the self-sufficiency of ranching life, he said.
The implement shed housed various machinery used on the ranch from steam engines in the early days to tractors, said McLean. The building was constructed in the early 1900s and was added to in 1916 and again midway through the century, he said.
McLean said the implement shed never had an adequate foundation and being located on a hillside made it susceptible to moisture.
“It’s very important to get them in shape and preserve them for future generations,” he said.
Once the buildings are placed on their new foundations, McLean said exterior improvements will be made including new siding, windows and paint.
Remediation to the two buildings cost $951,000 and is part of $4 million worth of refurbishing and preserving slated to be done to four historic buildings at the Bar U Ranch by Parks Canada as part of the Federal Investment projects announced in 2015.
Parks Canada is investing $3 billion over five years to support infrastructure work to heritage, visitor, waterway and highway assets within national historic sites, parks and marine conservation areas across the country.
“It’s very exciting for the Bar U,” said McLean. “Being the only national historic site in the country that commemorates ranching and preserves the buildings that represent this culture, it’s wonderful to see this happen.”
Once the work is complete, McLean said the buildings will better represent their roles in ranching life at the Bar U.
Plans are being made for better exhibits in the implement shed to show the progression of horsepower to machinery, he said. Previously, a portion of the building was used for storage.
“We stored our hitch wagon and the west end of the building was used as a classroom with student activities and paraphernalia for the site,” he said. “Most of the building was not open to the public.”
The slaughterhouse also had a limited display, said McLean, including a large cast-iron tub used for processing hogs, the remains of a stone hearth for boiling water and some tools used for animal processing.
“Probably in the future, and again this is very much in the planning stages, we will better show its function as the slaughterhouse in the Bar U,” he said.
The horse barn and bunk house will have future remediation, said McLean.
McLean said regular maintenance and inspections are conducted on the buildings and machinery.
“We are always planning to make sure that we can preserve these buildings,” he said. “Sometimes it takes a lot of experts to come up with a solution as to how to proceed.”
Travis Webber, national historic site and visitor experience manager, said maintaining historic sites is part of Parks Canada’s mandate.
“Our role is we are guardians of national parks,” he said. “We protect them in order to present them and connect Canadians with their history and what it is to be Canadian. We are hoping a visit to the Bar U Ranch and its heritage buildings is going to help Canadians build a piece of their Canadian identity. The steps we are taking right now is to protect them for the future.”
The implement shed and slaughterhouse are expected to be back in place and the majority of remediation work completed for the May 15 opening of the Bar U Ranch this season. The ranch will remain open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Sept. 30. Admission is free in 2017.