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Manitoba History: Review: Bob Hainstock, Barns of Western Canada: An Illustrated Century

by Tom S. Mitchell
Brandon University

Manitoba History, Number 14, Autumn 1987

This article was published originally in Manitoba History by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make this online version available as a free, public service. As an historical document, the article may contain language and views that are no longer in common use and may be culturally sensitive in nature.

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Barns of Western Canada: An Illustrated Century. Bob Hainstock. Victoria: Braemar Books Ltd., 1985. 144 pp., ill. ISBN 0-919749-05-4.

Bob Hainstock, editor and publisher of the Manitoba Co-operator, has designed this history of barns in Western Canada to “increase public awareness of this great cultural legacy.” The book’s principle strength is the fine selection of more than two hundred photographs drawn from every region of the west including British Columbia. These photographs (the majority of which were taken by Hainstock) illustrate regional variations in barn architecture due to climate and materials, and the influence of the architectural heritage of various ethnocultural groups which settled in the west. The text is informative and clearly written for a popular audience. (Readers interested in a more thorough discussion of barn architecture in Manitoba should consult the various publications of the Manitoba Historic Resources Branch dealing with the architectural heritage of the various planning districts of the province.)

The chapter organization of Barns of Western Canada reflects Hainstock’s concern with how time, geography, and various architectural traditions have informed the barn construction of western Canada. The commentary in each chapter is richly illustrated with photographs, the majority of which are in colour. “Barn Notes,” the final chapter, includes concise yet informative annotations for many of the photographs contained in the book. These annotations are compelling examples of how the study of historical architecture can provide a novel access to the history of a region. Barns of Western Canada is an attractive and useful contribution to the small body of literature currently available about the rural architecture of western Canada.

Barn, Mennonite Reserve, built in 1881.
Source: Archives of Manitoba

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Manitoba Co-operator Rural Buildings Series

Page revised: 8 December 2014

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