Sask. backs reconstruction of landmark barn

The Saskatchewan government has pledged $100,000 toward efforts to rebuild the oldest major farm structure in the province.

The province on Tuesday announced $100,000 toward the Bell Barn Society of Indian Head’s $1 million plan to reconstruct the barn and redevelop the site around the Bell Farm Barn.

“We have now achieved more than 95 per cent of the $1.3 million needed for the project,” Bell Barn Society chairperson Frank Korvemaker said in the province’s release. “With these funds, we can confirm that the project will be completed on time for a grand opening in 2010.”

The round stone barn, built in 1882 just north of Indian Head, about 65 km east of Regina, is considered to be Saskatchewan’s oldest major agricultural structure. Last February the barn was again listed as one of Canada’s top 10 endangered places by the Heritage Canada Foundation.

The barn was dismantled in April last year due to its “deteriorating condition” and is now being rebuilt elsewhere within the original Bell Farm yard.

Named after Major William Bell, the barn was the only structure remaining on the farmyard where Major and the Qu’Appelle Valley Farming Co. established the first corporate farm in Saskatchewan.

The corporate farm, according to the province, was originally an experiment supported by the federal government of Sir John A. Macdonald.

“Although the corporate farm only operated until 1889, the mythology of this farm has lived on in history books and through people of the Indian Head district,” the province said Tuesday.

The society plans to develop the Bell Farm yard site into an interpretive centre for western Canadian agriculture.

Winnipeg grain company Richardson International last year put up $50,000 for the project and pledged another 50 cents for every dollar pledged by other grain companies operating in Saskatchewan, up to another $50,000.

The society has also previously gathered endorsements from former Saskatchewan lieutenant governor and former Liberal leader Lynda Haverstock as its honorary patron, and actor Eric Peterson (Corner Gas, Street Legal) as its honorary chairman.

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