What’s happening at the Bradley-Craig farm?

(The Bradley-Craig historic barn in Stittsville as it sits in February 2021 with front doors removed in preparation for foundation restoration work being completed by Richcraft Homes. All photos: Kerry Reimer)

The Bradley-Craig farmstead is located on Hazeldean Road – Stittsville’s long-standing historic landmark with its 147 year old red dairy ‘bank designed’ barn. Norma and Eldon Craig were the last to reside at the farm – Norma was born and raised there. She and Eldon, along with their two children, carried on the farming tradition on the settled land of her ancestors over 200 years ago. In 2010, the distinguished barn was designated heritage by the City under the Ontario Heritage Act and is on the City’s Heritage Watch List. Chaired by Mayor Jim Watson, the Heritage Matters Task Force, monitors the List.

(The doors have been removed on the Bradley-Craig barn for foundation restoration work being performed by Richcraft Homes. Notice the missing front boards as well.)

A short synopsis – with the passing of Eldon, Norma sold the farm to Richcraft Homes. A deal had been made between Richcraft and the City to move the barn to Saunders Farm. At the time, Richcraft strongly stated that “the barn would be out of context in a commercial development, and would be difficult to incorporate into a retail format.” If the barn was moved the Heritage status would have been lost. Not meeting their timeline to move the barn in 2018, Richcraft decided to retain the barn in its present location.

Since that time, Stittsville residents have kept a close watch on our beloved barn as it deteriorates before our eyes. Richcraft were charged a pittance of $1,600 for not complying with property standards bylaws in 2018. How could a development company let this happen to a local historic landmark?!

(Several of the barn boards have been removed due to deterioration and to allow for restoration work.)

This past week, there has been some movement at the barn. We noticed and others have also with reports to both Stittsville Central and on the Friends of the Bradley-Craig Farm Facebook page. Calls to Richcraft went unanswered. Residents have expressed dismay that the doors are literally left ajar hanging by their hinges, with others reporting that the doors have been left open, boards removed and left piled in the yard.

With these comments being made, Councillor Gower noticed and responded on the Friends of the Bradley-Craig Farm Facebook page on which he wrote, “I saw your (Mandy Hambly) note today on FB about the condition of the barn at the Bradley-Craig Farm. Here’s what I know – feel free to share. I checked today with the City’s heritage staff, who advise that the barn doors have been open due to ongoing foundation restoration work happening inside. Richcraft has been doing this work in conjunction with a heritage architect and with the required permits from the City.”

The Councillor went on to say, “Staff will be doing another check-up this week to review. (I also hope to be able to do a site visit once COVID shut-down restrictions are lifted.) The barn remains a designated building under the Ontario Heritage Act and is on the City’s Heritage Watch List. This means that a by-law officer inspects the building regularly for any damage or potential issues. Residents can also call 3-1-1 or contact my office with any concerns and we can send an inspector to have a look. Thanks for your continuing concern about this important building!”

Stittsville Central reached out to Marguerite Evans, a descendant of the original homesteaders, the Bradley family. Marguerite told us, “if Richcraft, in conjunction with a heritage architect, is now doing something constructive in terms of restoring the deteriorating foundation, repairing doors, and replacing barn boards, then it sounds encouraging. I appreciate that Councillor Glen Gower is following up on restoration work.”

Marguerite added, “we look forward to hearing from Richcraft as to the current plans for the Bradley/Craig farmstead, in particular, the heritage designated and rare, iconic, bank barn.”

(One set of the Bradley-Craig barn doors taken just before the farm was sold and they still had paint. Photo: Marguerite Evans)

This leads this editor back to Jackson Stitt, our first postmaster and for whom our village was named in 1854. Jackson Stitt eventually departed the village and his descendants scattered throughout Canada and the United States.

Two of Jackson’s descendants own companies that specialize in the preservation and restoration of heritage barns. Sam Stitt III, a specialist in heritage barn preservation, owning Great Lakes Barn Preservation, and Mark Stitt, owning Stitt Barn Preservation and well known for his barn restorations. The Stitts may very well be the experts for Richcraft to contact to oversee the restoration of our own Bradley-Craig barn – notably because of their Stittsville connection.



3 thoughts on “What’s happening at the Bradley-Craig farm?”

  1. Myself, Councilor Gower, and Marguerite were present when the heritage designation was REMOVED from the barn. This is called de-designation. Did it get re-designated without my knowing? Hope so.

  2. In answer to Karen Prytula’s question, this was the motion passed 27 January 2016.
    So the heritage permit for demolition expired in 2018 and the barn was never de-designated.
    David Jeanes

    That Council:
    1. Approve the application to demolish the barn under the Ontario Heritage Act;
    2. Issue the heritage permit conditional upon the following:
    a) The barn must be relocated/rebuilt within 2 years to Saunders Farm in Munster;
    b) The property owner must submit a detailed plan for the recording, dismantling, storage and reconstruction of the barn to the Planning and Growth Management Department for review and approval prior to the demolition and removal of the building;
    c) The Bradley-Craig farmhouse will remain as a designated property and there are to be no alterations or changes to the status of the house on the property; and
    d) That staff be directed to work with the applicant through the site plan control process to develop an interpretation strategy to commemorate the site’s history;
    3. Approve that once the barn has been demolished and removed, staff be directed to prepare an amendment to by-law 2010-247 to remove the barn from the Statement of Cultural Heritage Value and Heritage Attributes.
    CARRIED with Councillors J. Leiper, C. McKenney, and T. Nussbaum dissenting.

  3. I’m really saddened at the greed and lack of imagination that developers have. They have so much money and the people power and opportunity to make an interesting legacy and impact, but instead keep on building crowded rubber stamp neighborhoods and retail that leave no character or appeal in their wake. What they do now is what we will have to live with for decades.

    There’s so many cool things that can be done with heritage properties. Imagine a huge 2 level restaurant in this restored barn, with all the interior beams exposed. People would come from across Ottawa to see it.

    Or a big daycare! Restored barn full of jungle gyms and kids playing and some green space for them outside. With all the people moving here, we’re going to need more daycare space anyway.

    Possibility are endless.

    The old farmhouse nearby is also really cool. I hope they allow it to stand and do something cool with it. I’ve seen others turned into spas or stores.

    We don’t need another shiny big box store or Dollarama. We need cool and interesting things that make this locality local to us and make it fun and interesting to live here, both visually and practically. Losing the flea market was tragic, it was so fun to explore that place… now it’s just more houses… eventually, what is going to be available for us to do other than shop at the same big name stores that are available anywhere else in Ottawa? Snore.

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