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Historic Sites of Manitoba: Motheral Barn (RM of Louise)

Around 1981, this barn at NE2-1-10W in the vicinity of Snowflake in the Rural Municipality of Louise was featured in a Manitoba Co-operator series on rural architecture. The original caption for the photograph is given below.

They don’t come much bigger or more handsome than this turn-of-the-century, L-shaped barn that straddles the Canada-US border near Snowflake. George Motheral left Plattesville, Ontario for Manitou in 1880. His son Isaac continued to Snowflake and began farming there in 1897. Three years later this large 80-foot by 80-foot barn was put up by friends and neighbours under the supervision of a master carpenter. The 12-inch square beams had been cut and milled near Altamont and then skidded across nearly 25 miles of snow-covered fields and roads. This massive system of beams was mortised and pegged, with the square nails used only in exterior sheeting. In its day, the Motheral barn was considered one of the biggest and most modern in the area. With 32 horses working the fields in teams, and another 30 or more head of stock in the main barn, the large loft was called upon to shelter sufficient feed for an entire winter, including 6,000 bales. The loft had an Ontario-style earth ramp to allow full wagons into the upper area. The lower level featured individual stalls for livestock, as well as front and rear passageways, for cleaning and water in front of each animal. A 40-foot by 24-foot pig barn was also built on the north (right) side of the barn. One of the features of the main barn that still attracts visitors along Highway No. 242 is the four large gleaming cupolas that have not required paint since being installed nearly 80 years ago. As part of the “King Ventilating System,” these enormous cupolas were at one time attached to ventilating shafts that served more than 14,000 square feet of floor space. They were later disconnected because of interference with the hay mows. In 1933, Isaac’s sons Ralph and Lloyd took over the Motheral farm and, in 1968, Wayne took over from his uncle and father Ralph.

In 2000, Wayne Motheral’s son Brad took over operation of the family farm. By early 2010, the barn had become seriously deteriorated and restoration costs were excessively high. A difficult decision was made to demolish the building. After thorough video documentation of the barn’s interior and salvaging of the metal cupolas on the roof, it was torn down on 30 March 2010. A large farm workshop was constructed on the site.

Motheral Barn

Motheral Barn (circa 1981)
Source: Bob Hainstock

Motheral Barn

Motheral Barn undergoing demolition (March 2010)
Source: Wayne Motheral

Motheral Barn

Former barn owner Wayne Motheral beside metal cupolas from the barn (no date)
Source: Wayne Motheral

Site Location (lat/long): N49.00916, W98.70328
denoted by symbol on the map above


We thank Wayne Motheral for providing information used here.

This page was prepared by Bob Hainstock, Ed Ledohowski, and Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 22 February 2015

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