The Anderson barn is a rare and superbly preserved example of a classic southern Ontario-style bank barn, scores of which were constructed across southwestern Manitoba during the late 19th century by settlers from Ontario. Telltale design features include tall, rectangular massing with a steep gable roof; post-and-beam framing; vertical board-and-batten siding; diamond-shaped loft windows; fieldstone masonry stable level walls; and a large loft access ramp.
Its builder, Scottish-born William Anderson of Elora, Ontario settled on the site just northwest of Brandon in 1889 and the property has remained in the Anderson family to the present time.
Constructed in 1903, the barn retains most of its original elements that made it a state-of-the-art livestock facility in its time. In the stable level, these include a three-bay plan with cattle stalls in the central bay, horse stalls in the west bay and pens for pigs, calves and fowls in the east bay. Also present are wooden feed troughs throughout, wooden chutes connecting to the feed grain storage bins in the loft; old-style “split” exterior barn doors, harness racks and even nameplates over each of the horse stalls.
The loft level retains a complete and functional hay-sling apparatus used to lift loads of hay from racks and deposit them strategically throughout the loft. There is also a feed grain processing and storage area, an in-ground concrete silo attached to the south side and root cellar under the ramp. The concrete and wood-frame addition for sheltering pigs and chickens, built around 1914 on the barn’s west end, reflects major changes in farm building construction materials and technology on the Prairies during the early years of the 20th century.
As one of the best-preserved southern Ontario-style barns remaining in the Brandon region, the council for the Rural Municipality of Elton designated the Anderson barn as a municipal heritage site on November 6, 1989. Since that time, with technical and financial support from the province’s Historic Resources Branch, owners Frank and Bessie Anderson undertook a series of restoration and repair projects, which included repointing the masonry stable walls.
After their recent retirement to Brandon, this family labour of love has since been taken over by son Bill Anderson and wife Frances who have repaired and reshingled the barn’s large gable roof and completely rebuilt portions of the fieldstone stable walls. A current project is the complete replacement of the board-and-batten siding on the east wall.
The Anderson barn, together with several other early post-and-beam farmyard structures, shelterbelts and a creek-fed duck pond, is a rare and excellent surviving monument to the municipality and region’s southern Ontario agricultural origins. Additional information can be obtained online, at: www.gov.mb.ca/chc/hrb/mun/m033; and www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=5084