Classified Federal Heritage Building
Bar U Ranch National Historic Site of Canada, Alberta
(© Department of Public Works / Ministère des Travaux publics, (A & E Services--CPS, WRO), 1992.)
Longview, Bar U Ranch National Historic Site of Canada, Alberta
Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
1909 to 1910
Building No. 3
FHBRO Report Reference:
Description of Historic Place
The Feed Mill at Bar U Ranch, otherwise known as Building No. 3, is rectangular, a single-storey building with high side-walls and a medium pitch gabled roof. A windowed tower structure projects from the eastern slope of the roof and a garage wing projects from the eastern side of the building. Access doors are on each elevation. The exterior wall surfaces are red with white trim and variously sheathed with bevelled siding and shiplap. The Feed Mill is the first building encountered upon entering the headquarters site from the public road. It is located on a flat grassy area in the rangelands in the foothills of the Rockies. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Feed Mill is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
This building is an excellent example of the national theme of ranching in Alberta, and its importance in the development of Canada. As part of the Bar U Ranch Complex, the Feed Mill is associated with numerous events and people that contributed to the development of ranching in Canada. It is believed that the original structure was built to process and store grain for the horses in the nearby Stud Horse and Mare Barn. As the ranch developed, the gas powered mill was added. The structure is also associated with George Lane, a prominent Alberta cattleman who was hired at Bar U Ranch in 1884 to serve as the ranch foreman and who ran the ranch between 1902 and 1925. An elevator system for transferring grain to storage bins was installed during Patrick Burns subsequent ownership, reflecting his interest in efficiency and economy.
The Feed Mill is a very good example of the agricultural building type used at ranches in the Prairies during the early 1900s. Its value lies in its functional design and form, simple massing, common construction details, and exterior finish. The building incorporates good quality materials and craftsmanship. The Feed Mill’s functional design is characteristic of the buildings erected at the Bar U Ranch and complements the other early structures in the vicinity. Built of heavy construction to withstand the outward thrust of the grain, the exterior of the mill clearly reflects its functional purposes as exemplified by the head tower which houses the elevator system.
The Feed Mill is part of a cohesive complex of buildings arranged to great functional effect in a simple and beautiful natural setting. The Feed Mill contributes greatly to the character of the Bar U Ranch. This landmark value is reinforced by the designation of the complex as a national historic site of Canada.
Edward Mills, Historic Bar U Ranch Headquarters, Longview, Alberta. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 92-017; Feed Mill (Building 3), Bar U Ranch, Longview, Alberta, Heritage Character Statement 92-017.
The character-defining elements of the Feed Mill should be respected.
Its agricultural building type and good quality materials and craftsmanship as manifested in: the distinctive profile provided by the medium pitch gabled roof and projecting tower structure; the light timber structural system; the external horizontal bracing beams and connecting cables; the elevator system; the distribution box within the tower; the feed mill and bins; the exterior cladding of bevelled siding; the interior walls of shiplap; 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
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 Feed Mill at the Bar U Ranch is estimated to have been constructed ca. 1909-1910, as part of the second phase of development (ca. 1902-05 to the 1940s). The building has been modified and added to several times over the years. It was built as a conventional rectangular-shaped granary, and had a gas-powered feed mill added to it by 1927. An elevator system with a tower structure was added after this date. The Feed Mill 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 Feed Mill, as a component of the Bar U Ranch complex, was designated "Classified" primarily for its historical associations, and also for its environmental values and architectural qualities.
As part of the Bar U complex, the Feed Mill is associated with numerous events and people that contributed to the development of ranching in Alberta. It is believed that the original structure was built to process and store grain for the horses in the nearby Stud-Horse Barn and Mare Barn. As the ranch developed, the gas-powered mill was added. An elevator system for transferring grain to the storage bins was installed during Patrick Burns' ownership, reflecting his well-known interest in efficiency and economy.
The Feed Mill sits on a flat, grassy area at the base of the valley's eastern slope, close to and in direct line with the Stud-Horse Barn. It is the first building encountered when entering the complex and is distinguished by the large head house which projects through its roof. As part of a cohesive complex of buildings arranged to great functional effect in a simple and beautiful natural setting, the Feed Mill contributes significantly to the character of the Bar U Ranch. The Feed Mill 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.
The Feed Mill is the product of a simple, function-oriented design and yet has a strong aesthetic impact due to its scale, massing and patina. The evolutionary nature of the building's design is characteristic of many buildings on the site.
Character Defining Elements
The heritage character of the Feed Mill resides in the utilitarian nature of its materials and construction, its form, the history of its use as evoked by interior features and fixtures, and its setting.
The Feed Mill's general form and architectural detailing is typical of light timber framed agricultural outbuildings. The structural system should be respected. Features specific to this building type include the shiplap siding, which provides a tight finish against water, wind and vermin; the concrete engine base, which gives evidence of the power source located in the mill by 1927; the large head house on the main building's roof; the interior elevator; the system of hopper-bottom bins; and the wales-and-cabling support system added to the building early in the Burns era. All of these features contribute to the building's heritage character and should be protected in any future modifications or maintenance work. Structural deficiencies, such as wood decay, foundation weaknesses, lower-wall rotting and roof sagging should be addressed with sound conservation practices which maximize retention of original fabric.
The grain handling and feed processing operations were accommodated through a number of interior fittings and fixtures, including grain bins and hoppers, a sub-floor grain hopper and access pit, and an elevator/bucket conveyor, gerber spout and prime mover. These are integral to the function of the building and to its heritage character. Patina reflects the use and history of the building, particularly the grain-washed walls of the bins and the evidence of graffiti within the central passageway. Windows and door openings were deleted or added as internal uses evolved. All evidence of this evolution should be respected. The Feed Mill's colour scheme (red walls and white trim) is in keeping with tradition across the Prairies and visually links it to the other buildings on the site.
Any development should seek to retain the functional quality of the site and respect existing patterns of access and circulation. Any changes to circulation or access should consider historic patterns related to the movement of grain tanks, wagons and motorized vehicles. The relationship of the Feed Mill to the complex's entrance and to the Stud-Horse Barn is important to its heritage character and should be protected.