Our Barns: Our Stories – A thesis on the Bradley-Craig barn

Bradley-Craig Barn on Hazeldean Road. Photo by Barry Gray.
(Photo: Barry Gray)

In 2017, Carleton University student, Darby Ace, was working on her Master’s degree in architecture. She had already achieved her bachelor’s degree in architecture, federal government experience in heritage conservation, and came from a farming background. It was Glen Gower who put Marguerite Evans (a Bradley descendant and strong advocate for saving our Bradley-Craig barn) in touch with Darby. It was exciting to learn, today, that the topic of Darby’s Master’s degree thesis was the use and integration of heritage properties into modern architecture and suburban development. It was Marguerite who shared Darby’s thesis with Stittsville Central.

Some integral observations Darby made when introducing her abstract should be respected and seriously considered by all developers in new subdivisions where heritage structures currently exist:

  • Heritage buildings can act to inspire architects to think outside of the box and to raise the bar on suburban design;
  • Historic barns provide a unique opportunity to give a new sense of identity to the evolving suburban culture;
  • This project will explore the technical, conceptual, and contextual implications of adaptive reuse of a barn in a suburban environment; and
  • The Bradley-Craig Farm at 590 Hazeldean Road, Stittsville, Ontario will serve as a case study for this research and adaptation.

Chapter 2 of Darby’s Case Study – Bradley-Craig Barn starts out as follows: “The Bradley-Craig Farm at 590 Hazeldean Road, Stittsville, will serve as a case study for my research. The history of this farm dates back as far as 1824 and remained in the same family until 2006 when it was sold to a developer. The intangible cultural heritage of this farm is extensive and strong, from first settlement, to agricultural development, and local crafts-persons. As suburban commercial and domestic development consumes the area, this remarkable structure, and the stories it holds, are at risk of being lost forever. Preservation of the farm will not only serve as a reminder of the rural heritage of the town of Stittsville but will also preserve the diminishing art of traditional timber craft.”

(The timber craft as seen in the Bradley-Craig barn)

Darby’s assessment of the barn and her thesis documentation suggest that as of 2018, although in need of repair, the barn was still in reasonably good shape. She was able to meet with staff from Richcraft and was given permission to access the barn.

The passion for many in Stittsville to have the ‘Bradley-Craig Barn’ kept in place and integrated into a new subdivision can set tears flowing. To actually read this 52 page thesis and see how this heritage building has been thoroughly researched, with a re-purposed use being realistic, is what Stittsville residents have been pronouncing for many years. A few years ago, our hopes of preservation upon hearing the news that the barn would be moved to a different location and reconstructed were sadly dashed. Perhaps now, Richcraft, the current owner of this heritage farm, will realize the potential of all the structures on the property, but make the correct choice to sincerely make Stittsville’s barn a recognized landmark for all to take pleasure in.

Early 1890s photograph of Bradley-Craig barn, south side. (Photo: Donated by Mrs. John Clifford Bradley to the Goulbourn Township Historical Society photographic collection)

Take the time to access and read Darby’s thesis which is available at the Carleton University Library and now available on-line at:  https://curve.carleton.ca/1141d50c-8aa7-47e9-a6ed-6f774b83e632

**Editor’s Note: How appropriate that this should land in our emails during Heritage Month.


4 thoughts on “Our Barns: Our Stories – A thesis on the Bradley-Craig barn”

  1. I am humbled by your kind review of my research and thoughts. This project became very close to my heart and I truly hope that the ideas I have put forth may force consideration of the many possibilities for adaptation of the Bradley-Craig Barn and reintegration of this incredible piece of architecture into the community.

    1. The Bradley-Craig barn is an important piece of Stittsville’s heritage and I’m sure that residents will appreciate your thorough research indicating that the building can be re-purposed. We thank you for your undertaking and sharing. Your thesis only further iterates what we have been pushing back on for several years. We don’t want to lose our heritage!

  2. I savoured every word of your thesis Darby!

    I am a local barn stalker, and she is my favourite, by far.

    Your renderings of a future community gathering spot in the barn excited me much like a kid in a candy shop.

    I hope the architects working for Richcraft also read your thesis.

    Please join “The Friends of The Bradley Craig Farm” Facebook Group if you have not already.

    The pride and joy of Stittsville!

  3. Hello Darby. Your thesis was a great read and offers validation for maintaining the heritage of barns and homesteads. Great to see architectures role in respecting history while repurposing property.

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