Five examples of new uses for old barns in Ontario and beyond

Inside the Garvey Farm. Photo via

Earlier this month we asked our readers for ideas for big red Bradley-Craig barn on Hazeldean Road.  Our readers responded in droves by email and social media.

Although the barn has heritage designation, it’s 140 years old and showing its age.  Finding a sustainable business idea for the barn (and the money to fund it) would go a long way to ensuring its long term survival.

We received a broad range of suggestions: a skating rink, a brew pub, a farmers’ market, an arts centre, a wedding venue, a new Stittsville flea market.  Several readers sent us examples of old barns that have been re-purposed as concert venues, theatres and meeting spaces.

Brian Clark is an architect based in Picton, Ontario who’s been involved in several adaptations of old barns, mostly in Prince Edward County.

“Most are now wineries and tasting rooms, private residences, bed & breakfasts. One is a summer theatre/wedding hall. Each has had its own challenges in terms of construction and building code issues but certainly well worth it in all cases,” says Clark.

He also says the projects are less expensive than you might think: “Obviously it depends on the condition of the timber frame but I have found that in most cases comparable and often less than new construction,” he says.

Here are a few examples of barns that have been transformed into something new.


North on 29. (Photo via Facebook)
North on 29, Carleton Place. (Photo via Facebook.)

NORTH ON 29, CARLETON PLACE, ONTARIO: This 150-year-old barn on County Road 29 north of Carleton Place re-opened earlier in January as a concert venue. Canadian acts like Hawksley Workman and the Sadies are booked to perform in the coming weeks.  It was previously in use as a restaurant.  More info.


Kailey Barn at the Fields on West Lake
Kailey Barn at the Fields on West Lake. Photo via
Inside the Kailey Barn at the Fields on West Lake
Inside the Kailey Barn at the Fields on West Lake. Photo via

FIELDS ON WEST LAKE, PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY, ONTARIO: This old barn is part of an event complex that includes the Fields Farm House Inn. It’s a popular spot for weddings and private functions.  This is one of Brian Clark’s projects, and is described as one of Prince Edward County’s finest barn structures. More info.

Closson Chase Vineyard by N_B_C, on Flickr
Closson Chase Vineyard by N_B_C, on Flickr

CLOSSON CHASE VINEYARD, PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY, ONTARIO: Another Brian Clark project, this century-old barn was renovated in 2002 into a new winery with a barrel room, tasting room, and staff  facilities.

Gateway Playhouse, Long Island. Photo via Wikipedia.
Gateway Playhouse, Long Island. Photo via Wikipedia.

GATEWAY PLAYHOUSE, LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK: It all started in 1941 with an empty barn and a small community group who wanted to start a theatre company. It’s been named one of the top ten summer theatres in the United States. More info.

Garvey Farm. Photo via
Garvey Farm. Photo via
Garvey Farm. Photo via
Inside the Garvey Farm. Photo via

GARVEY FARM AND WEDDING BARN, TRAVERSE CITY, MICHIGAN: This award-winning adaptation of a late 19th-century barn can accommodate up to 150 guests for dinner. They’re completely booked for 2015 and are now booking weddings for 2016 and beyond.  More info.



TELL US: What are your ideas for how the Bradley-Craig farmstead could be re-developed?  Have you seen any great examples of barn adaptations?  Add your comments below or email



4 thoughts on “Five examples of new uses for old barns in Ontario and beyond”

  1. Evermore, just outside of Almonte also has updated barns according to its website:

    “This charming venue was once the childhood home of Dr. James Naismith, the creator of basketball. Featuring an early 1900’s elegantly restored barn, with many comfortable lounging areas and bar area to host your friends and family.”

  2. I think it would make a wonderful dinner theatre/concert hall. We don’t have one in this area and I’m sure it would be a great venue for all the theatrical talent in the area, not to mention performance venue for the three choral groups in Stittsville alone.
    Stittsville/Kanata would really benefit as long as they made the rentals affordable.

  3. Any advice on funding to help restore an old barn? We are severing a lot from the family farm and have an old barn that is beautiful, but likely to cost too much to renovate. We have to make a choice and have the work done by November. I’d hate to sell it off for old wood.

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