Bell Farm (Indian Head, Saskatchewan)

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Bell Farm
General information
Status Reconstructed
Architectural style Round Barn
Town or city Indian Head
Country Canada
Coordinates 50°32′N 103°40′W / 50.533°N 103.667°W / 50.533; -103.667Coordinates: 50°32′N 103°40′W / 50.533°N 103.667°W / 50.533; -103.667
Construction started 1882
Renovated July 24, 2010
Demolished April 2008
Diameter 20 meters, 67 feet (20 m)
Technical details
Structural system Limestone

Bell Farm is a heritage farm built in 1882 by Major Bell on ten miles (16 km) square or 60,000 acres (24,000 ha) at Indian Head. [1] The Bell Farm Barn is amongst the ten top most endangered sites by the Heritage Canada Foundation.sp[2] The round structure consisted of a silo which could be used also as a lookout tower. The silo had a capacity of 4,000 bushels of oats and 100 tons of hay. The surrounding area could house 36 horse and an office.[3] Having the silo centrally located greatly reduced labour involved in livestock feeding and resulted in a stronger facility than the rectangular structures.[4]

The first settlers moved into the district in 1882, a few months ahead of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The farming operations were so huge and out of the ordinary that, on many occasions, the passenger trains would stop and let the passengers watch the harvesting operation becoming the area's first tourist attraction.


The first buildings constructed were the 16-room, two-story stone house measuring 34 by 40 feet (10 m × 12 m) with a Template:Onvert wing. Four stone and two frame five-room cottages, complemented the main dwelling along with an ice house, a cow barn, and a chicken house.[5] The farm was divided into 200-acre (0.81 km2) portions with a foreman supervising each section. Houses and buildings were built at each area with phone lines connecting the entirety. The phone lines between the 23 cottages on the farm was one of the first two phone lines in the North West Territories.[6] In 1886 the Bell Farm owned 45 reapers, and binders, 78 ploughs, 6 mowers, 40 seeders, 80 sets of harrows and seven steam threshing outfits to plant and harvest 5,000 acres (20 km2) of Red Fyfe wheat, oats and potatoes crop. The Bell Farm was a mixed farm enterprise, and the livestock of 1886 comprised 200 horses, 250 cattle and 900 hogs.[1] Wooden grainaries on wheels, grain elevator and flour mill also complemented the Bell Farm.

Major Bell erected a twelve thousand dollar building for an Agricultural College to bring in Dr. Tanner, a noted professor of agriculture. The building was all that materialized from this plan.[1]

Bell Barn Society[edit]

Dave Aldous began a campaign to save the Bell Farm when the mortar holding the stones of the Bell Farm House decayed, and the farm house collapsed. A letter from Dave Aldous reached Frank Korvemaker, a provincial heritage official. Korvemaker wrote a book on stone buildings, Legacy of Stone:Saskatchewan's Stone Buildings By Margaret Hryniuk, Frank Korvemaker, and Larry Easton, and from there went on to establish the Bell Barn Society to preserve this historic barn.[3] Korvemaker has had experience with the Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation and was instrumental in preserving the Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site.[7] Margaret Hryniuk, Frank Korvemaker, and Larry Easton contacted the barn's owner, Dan Walker in 2005.[8]

The Bell Barn Society of Indian Head was founded in 2006 to raise public awareness, and financial support to restore the Bell Farm Round Barn. The campaign received $50,000 from James Richardson International (JRI)[9] towards rebuilding the Bell Farm barn and establishing an interpretive centre for Western Canadian Agriculture.[10] JRI, a Winnipeg company, recently celebrated 150 years of business in Canada. The effort has been supported by the Heritage Canada foundation, the Saskatchewan Architectural Heritage Society, United Empire Loyalies, local historians, schools and businesses.[11]

In April 2008, the 126-year-old stone farm was dismantled rock by rock. The ground has been leveled to reconstruct the building and engineers will be consulted for depth of piles needed for support. 5 acres (2.0 ha) of land was acquired from the RM of Indian Head. The town of Indian Head will own the reconstructed site, picnic, and parking facilities.[12] A sheet metal roof with 30 square air vents for light and ventilation,[5] surrounds an 8 sided cupola in the center which was the upper extension of the silo and look out tower.[13] The original barn had a unique herringbone pattern wood frame on trusses extending from the center to the stone walls.[5] Reconstruction of the barn alone is estimated at $1 million.[14] An 1883 Bell Farm cottage has been preserved at the Indian Head museum.[15] The provincial and federal governments won't commit to designating the barn with heritage status as it won't be re-constructed on its precise original site.[13] The original site of the Bell Farm will be preserved with the lower one foot of the original building for archaeological findings.[8] The roof and north wall had already collapsed due to a heavy snowfall during the winter o 2005-2006.[11][13]


  1. ^ a b c Hawkes, John (1924). "79: Gigantic Farms and Failures". The Story of Saskatchewan and Its People. 2. Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Company. Archived from the original on 19 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-30. 
  2. ^ Wray, Erin (July–August 2006), "Vanishing History", Canadian Geographic 
  3. ^ a b Burton, Randy (October 7, 2006). "Rich History Sparks Preservation". The StarPhoenix. CanWest. Archived from the original on November 10, 2012. Retrieved 2011-05-30. 
  4. ^ "Efficiency of the Round Barn". Eighteenth Biennial Report, 1911-1912. Kansas State Board of Agriculture: 139–142. 1912. Archived from the original on 20 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  5. ^ a b c Leik, Charles; Dan Walker (April 2001). "The Bell-Walker Barn". The Barn Journal. Archived from the original on 20 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  6. ^ "Bell Farm House". Bell Barn Society. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  7. ^ "Save the Barn". Indian Head - Wolseley News. 34 (18). August 8, 2006. p. 1. Archived from the original on August 12, 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  8. ^ a b Korvemaker, Frank (Autumn 2006), "There is still time to Save the Bell Barn", FAÇADE, Saskatchewan Architectural Heritage Society, p. 21, archived from the original on 2011-09-05, retrieved 2011-05-31 
  9. ^ Petrie, Ron (August 18, 2008). "History stands in ruins". The Leader-Post. CanWest. 
  10. ^ "News Releases". Richardson International. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  11. ^ a b Rhodes, Veronica (August 16, 2006), "Residents to Discuss Building Fate", The Leader-Post, p. A7, retrieved 2011-05-31 [permanent dead link]
  12. ^ Korvemaker, Frank (October 2006). "The Bell Barn Project is a Go". FAÇADE. Saskatchewan Architectural Heritage Society. p. 21. Archived from the original on 2011-08-12. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  13. ^ a b c Rogers, Diana (November 23, 2006), "Society anxious to restore barn", Western Producer, p. 86, archived from the original on August 12, 2011, retrieved 2011-05-31 
  14. ^ Johnstone, Bruce (July 24, 2008). "Campaign to save historic barn gets cash boost Winnipeg grain firm adds $50,000 to fund". The StarPhoenix. CanWest. p. A4. Archived from the original on November 10, 2012. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  15. ^ "Indian Head". Museums Association of Saskatchewan. 2010. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 

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