BRADLEY-CRAIG BARN: Just what does heritage designation mean anyways?

Red Barn. Photo by Joe Newton.

(ABOVE: “Red Barn” – Photo by Joe Newton.)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Earlier this week, we published an editorial calling for ideas to re-purpose the Bradley-Craig barn on Hazeldean Road. It’s the big red barn that’s been a landmark in our area for over 140 years.

We’ve received dozens of comments on our site, via Twitter, and on Facebook, including some great examples of similar barns that have been succesfully renovated for different uses across North America.  We’ll share those later this week.

Also thanks to Joe Newton for sharing some incredible photos of the old barn, like the photo at the top of this page.  You’ll see more of his work in the coming days.


 

The Bradley/Craig Farmstead demonstrates the development of farming methods and the parallel evolution of farm buildings, from simple log structures, to large, timber frame barns and elaborate farmhouses.  Built on land originally settled by Joshua Bradley in 1821, whose family became leaders in the community, the farmstead was a model for dairy farms across the region.

The barn is an excellent example of a monitor roofline dairy barn that was large enough to store the hay required by a large dairy operation.  It illustrates improvements in farming techniques and the parallel evolution of farm buildings in the late 19th century; as the scale of farms increased, larger timber framed barns were built which incorporated labour saving innovations such as ramps for unloading hay, and rope and pulley systems for moving the hay into the “mow,” the area of the barn used for hay storage.  The barn was constructed by a local builder, John Cummings, with the help of apprentices and neighbouring farmers.  Cummings was a prominent craftsman in Goulbourn, having built a number of significant buildings and barns in the township.  This is the last known example of a barn built by Cummings.

Excerpt from a City of Ottawa report about the heritage value of the Bradley-Craig farmstead.


 

Bradley-Craig barn. Photo by Joe Newton.
Photo by Joe Newton.

 

The Bradley-Craig barn and the farmhouse and surrounding property have heritage designation.  Under Ontario’s Heritage Act, the City of Ottawa can use designation to “recognize and protect properties of cultural heritage value or interest through individual designation”.

Heritage designation helps protect historically significant buildings, but ultimately their survival depends on how motivated the property owner is to maintain and preserve the building.

Richcraft bought the property in 2007, before it was designated.  They applied for subdivision and zoning approval in January 2014, and shovels hit the ground in 2014.  Richcraft expects to start serving the land in 2015, pending approvals.

Development of the land is starting in the south end of the property (near the Trans Canada Trail) and proceeding north. The farmstead will be part of a second phase of development.

People who own buildings with heritage designation can’t make changes without approval from the city’s heritage department and City Council, and changes are supposed to respect the historic aspects of the building.

Heritage designation also means that if a property owner wants to demolish a building, there are more layers of bureaucracy and approvals required before a permit will be issued.

“There are no special obligations for maintenance under the Ontario Heritage Act, however, the City’s Property Standards By-law sets out minimum standards for properties designated under Part IV or V of the Ontario Heritage Act,” says Lesley Collins, a planner with the City of Ottawa.

“These standards include maintenance and repair of heritage attributes. There are additional standards related to vacant heritage buildings,” she says.

Another city official told StittsvilleCentral.ca last year that there were concerns about the condition of the barn.

The city maintains a list of vacant heritage buildings in Ottawa that are monitored on an ongoing basis, including the Bradley-Craig barn.  Collins did not know of any immediate safety concerns.  In May 2014, the city’s property standards department issued an order to require the dairy barn be secured to prevent entry.  That issue was fixed by the property owner.

Kevin Yemm, a planner with Richcraft, told StittsvilleCentral.ca that the house and barn are both structurally sound and that they are regularly maintained.

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The city’s Built Heritage Advisory Committee approved the Bradley-Craig farm heritage designation in 2010. The minutes from that meeting make for an interesting read. Some highlights:

In 2006, the property was sold to a developer, and in 2007 the Department wrote to the new owner, communicating its interest in designation.  There was no response to this letter.  Staff did not proceed with the designation out of consideration of the former owners, now tenants, who were elderly and interested in avoiding public attention.  In addition, the building was not threatened.  The proposed designation was noted in the Fernbank Community Design Plan in 2009, and at the time, the owners were again notified of the City’s interest in designating the property.

The owner of the property has expressed concern about the inclusion of the barn in the designated parcel because of concerns regarding the future use of the structure.  Heritage staff made an inquiry through AGORA-L, an electronic network of heritage professionals and ordinary citizens, administered by the Heritage Canada Foundation, and an informal group of heritage planners in Ontario looking for successful examples of the adaptive re-use of barns.  Many examples were found across Canada, including theatres, restaurants, wineries, private houses and retail stores.

In the spring of 2009 staff were informed that the tenants would be moving out soon.  As a result of the change in status of the farmstead complex, staff has initiated the designation of the complex to ensure its protection for future generations.  Coincident with the receipt of that information, the new owners of the property contacted the City regarding the farm, stating their objection to the designation of the barn, but not the house.

At the committee meeting, representatives for the developer (Richcraft) argued against heritage designation for the barn, suggesting that “the Craig barn may be inappropriate for designation because it is no longer used as a dairy barn, and would therefore most likely remain unused amidst new development.”

One solution  presented was to move the barn to another area, perhaps south to a new park in the Fernbank development. They also asked for a three year grace period to “market the property and look for a tenant in the absence of a heritage designation.”

Former city councillor Gord Hunter suggested that the Bradley-Craig farm and other heritage buildings could be moved and grouped together as a “campus” of historic buildings in another location, like an Ottawa version of Upper Canada Village.

City councillor Shad Qadri is on record as supporting the heritage designation: “From a Community perspective, he suggested there were many uses that could be had on this property in the future, and proposed that designating the property would not close the door on future development or uses for the barn.”

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As for the future of the building, Kevin Yemm from Richcraft says the the future function of the farmstead has not been determined.

“Richcraft will work within the guidelines of the Heritage Act and the Planning Act when developing the site,” he says.

Yenn says that Richcraft is willing to consider any reasonable idea for redevelopment of the site. He would like to see something that is sympathetic to the existing heritage.

“Renovations, land value and leasing have to be considered,” he says.  “We hope to find a way to integrate the buildings into the planned mixed use function as outlined in the Fernbank CDP (Community Design Plan).”

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TELL US: What are your ideas for how the farmstead could be re-developed?  Are there other historic buildings in the area that you’re concerned about?  Add your comments below or email feedback@stittsvillcentral.ca

 


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5 thoughts on “BRADLEY-CRAIG BARN: Just what does heritage designation mean anyways?”

  1. When reminiscing about the farm, in the late 1990s, I used ride my bicycle from Kanata to Stittsville to play tennis and one day on my way back to Kanata, as I approached the farm, this golden lab or retriever came out of nowhere and started chasing me down Hazeldean Road – it scared the crap out of me! After that, I paced myself so that I had enough energy near the end of my ride to outrun the dog – it became a daily challenge for me. Good times. 🙂

  2. Such beautiful pictures depicting this farm. I wonder if this farm has anything to do with my Grandmother, who was a Bradley (Ruby Bradley, only child) from the Stittsville area. She married William Alexander from Stittsville and their homestead is still on Abbott Street !!

  3. Yes we have been around for 2 centuries and are still around. I am not related to the original Joshua Bradley, but my own ancestors did marry into this family. …I just can’t remember which ones. I visited the property when I was a teenager, one of my friends lived there…too distantly related to be called cousins. I have only ever lived a few miles from it at any given time….

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