Dairy Barn

Classified Federal Heritage Building

Bar U Ranch National Historic Site of Canada, Alberta
General view of the Dairy Barn, showing the front and side façades, 1992. (© Department of Public Works, AES, PC, WRO / Ministère des Travaux publics, SAG, PC, BRO, 1992.)
Corner view
(© Department of Public Works, AES, PC, WRO / Ministère des Travaux publics, SAG, PC, BRO, 1992.)
Address : Longview, Bar U Ranch National Historic Site of Canada, Alberta

Recognition Statute: Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
Designation Date: 1993-11-15
  • 1902 to 1927 (Construction)

Other Name(s):
  • Building No. 25  (Other Name)
Custodian: Parks Canada
FHBRO Report Reference: 92-017
DFRP Number: 56498 00

Description of Historic Place

The Dairy Barn at Bar U Ranch National Historic Site of Canada, otherwise known as Building No. 25, is a substantial single-storey utilitarian structure with high side-walls and a simple rectangular footprint. The medium-pitch gabled roof is clad in cedar shingles and has a cupola style ventilator mounted on the ridge. The exterior walls are sheathed with shiplap. The wooden doors, the cupola style ventilator on the roof, the small four-pane sash windows, and other openings are all practical functional features that support the dairy operation. The colour scheme of barn red walls and white trim follows the Prairies tradition. The Dairy Barn is located to the left of the bridge crossing Pekisko Creek, situated on a flat grassy area within the Bar U Ranch in the Alberta rangelands. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Dairy Barn is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.

Historical value:
The Dairy Barn is one of the best examples of the national theme of the development of ranching in Alberta, and its importance in the development of Canada. The building is a component of the Bar U Ranch. The Dairy Barn is also associated with Patrick Burns, who purchased the Bar U Ranch in 1927 to add to his vast cattle empire. Burns who is recognized as the kingpin of the meat processing industry in western Canada during the mid-1920s, has been designated a person of national significance.

Architectural value:
The building is a good example of early agricultural style construction at the Bar U Ranch and in the region. Its value lies in its functional design and form, simple massing, common construction details, exterior finish, interior layout and setting. The Dairy Barn’s design is conventional for the period, and constructed from commercially milled lumber products, incorporating common light balloon frame walls. The ground level features a through hall plan with cattle stalls arranged along both sides, whilst above, the interior has a large loft capacity.

Environmental value:
The Dairy Barn is part of a cohesive complex of buildings arranged to great functional effect in an exceptional site and setting. The Dairy Barn contributes to the character of the Bar U Ranch.

Edward Mills, Historic Bar U Ranch Headquarters, Longview, Alberta. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 92-017; Dairy Barn (Building 25), Bar U Ranch, Longview, Alberta, Heritage Character Statement 92-017.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Dairy Barn should be respected.

Its pioneer style and good quality materials and craftsmanship as manifested in: the light timber structural system; the gabled roof clad with milled cedar shingles; the exterior cladding of shiplap; the windows, main entrance and loft access in the façade; the central ventilation cupola; the red and white colour scheme.

The manner in which the building reinforces the character and setting of the Bar U Ranch.

Heritage Character Statement

Disclaimer - The heritage character statement was developed by FHBRO to explain the reasons for the designation of a federal heritage building and what it is about the building that makes it significant (the heritage character). It is a key reference document for anyone involved in planning interventions to federal heritage buildings and is used by FHBRO in their review of interventions.

The Dairy Barn at the Bar U Ranch is believed to have been built during the period of George Lane's ownership, between 1902 and 1925. Additional columns were added to the structure to address a problem with roof deflection. In recent years, the construction of a large modern piggery and a network of corrals northwest of the Dairy Barn has changed the setting. The building is now used as a piggery. The Dairy Barn is a component of the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site. Parks Canada is the custodian. See FHBRO Building Report 92-17.

Reasons For Designation
The Dairy Barn, as a component of the Bar U Ranch complex, was designated "Classified" because of the historical associations of this building and the ranch as a whole, because of its functional design and contribution to the overall aesthetic qualities of the complex, and because of the exceptional qualities of the site and setting.

The Bar U Ranch is strongly associated with the development of ranching in Alberta. As part of the Bar U complex, the Barn is associated with numerous people and events that contributed to the development of ranching in Alberta. The structure's probable construction date, function and scale correspond with a modest commercial dairy operation. Dairy cows remained at the ranch during Patrick Burns' ownership, between 1927 and 1949, indicating that the Dairy Barn was a functioning operation during much of the ranch's middle years.

The Dairy Barn is an important building on the site. It is the product of a simple, function-oriented design and yet has a strong aesthetic impact due to its scale, massing and patina. Like other buildings at the Bar U built during the early part of the 20th century, the Dairy Barn reflects the gradual shift from log building tradition and native material use, to a reliance on external sources for form, structural design and building materials.

As part of a cohesive complex of buildings arranged to great functional effect in a simple and beautiful natural setting, the Dairy Barn contributes significantly to the character of the Bar U Ranch. The building is located within the working area of the complex, in close proximity to the bunkhouses on the south side of the bridge, and on the perimeter of grazing land lying to the north. It is also a component of the collection of pre-1927 buildings which contribute to the landmark value of the complex as one of the region's most important early ranch sites. This landmark value is reinforced by the designation of the complex as a National Historic Site.

Character Defining Elements
The heritage character of the Dairy Barn resides in its form, massing, doors, windows, exterior finish, roof shape and materials, construction materials and techniques, interior plan and layout, and setting.

The Dairy Barn's simple form, footprint and massing reflect its utilitarian function. The high side walls accommodate a large loft area at the interior. The wood doors, wood sash windows and other openings, as well as the cupola-style ventilator on the ridge are practical, functional features that support the dairy operation. All of these features contribute to the building's heritage character and to an understanding of its functional program, and should be respected in any future modifications or maintenance work.

Resting on a poured concrete foundation, the structure is built of light balloon frame construction using commercially milled lumber. Exterior walls are sheathed with shiplap. The medium-pitch gabled roof is clad with milled cedar shingles. The colour scheme (barn red walls and white trim) keeps with tradition across the Prairies and visually links the Dairy Barn to the other buildings on site.

The building's interior presents a characteristic barn layout, with a centre hall flanked on both sides by open cattle stalls. The interior plan, layout and features are integral to an understanding of the buildings function, and merit preservation.

The Dairy Barn's open setting and its proximity to Pekisko Creek and to the bridge were deliberate choices based on the original function of the building. The open access and circulation from the barn to the bridge should be protected.