DOUGLAS FIR: How the heck did it get to Ontario

Most would agree that old barns are pretty neat and that some barns have withstood the test of time, especially in Ontario. Ever wonder how they decided what lumber to use? Well, in short, most barns built in the 1800s were simply made up of the wood that was found on the farm property. It was easy to access, no purchase necessary, shorter distance to move it, and usually came with ample supply that likely needed to have been cleared away for crops, anyway. So, how do you explain old barns that contained Douglas (Doug) Fir? Doug Fir is native to the Western coast of North America, not Ontario. So, you may be wondering… How the heck did Doug Fir get to be used in barns all the way over here, almost 140 years ago?

Well, as the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) reached completion in 1885, connecting Western Canada to Eastern Canada, lumber was being carted from British Columbia all the way across to the St. Lawrence River where it would then be sent off on ships to Europe. Through the years of this carting process, Ontario Farmers located close to those railways slowly gained access to the lumber that was being shipped off, and began using it for the building of farms. So, over time, more and more barns that popped up contained pieces of Doug Fir.

What’s the advantage to Doug Fir? Why not simply continue to use the local/Ontario native lumber for barn development? The Doug Fir that came from the West Coast was significantly taller than most wood that could be accessed in Ontario. This meant that barns could be built larger and facilitate larger farming operations.

Not everywhere in Ontario was able to benefit from the carting of large lumber. Old Doug Fir barns are almost exclusively found within 20 km from the CPR rail corridor. Not only was it very circumstantial to build barns with Doug Fir, but also left us, here today, with the ability to repurpose those old, tired barns. Nostalgic Wood offers clients the opportunity to gain a piece of Ontario Heritage in their dwellings by creating unique flooring and pieces with the limited supply of Old Doug Fir that was used for barns all those years ago.

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