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Gwen Tuinman

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nostalgia

Preserving Heritage Barns

The view of rustic barns is one of the greatest pleasures of a countryside drive. They stir fond childhood memories of my grandparents’ farm and inspire my storytelling. I am fortunate to live in an agricultural region dotted with this historic architecture. After a windstorm felled a neighbouring barn, I began to reflect on the life expectancy of these treasured buildings.

I recently enjoyed a conversation with Jon Radojkovic, president of Ontario Barn Preservation (OBP). Along with board members and regional representatives, he devotes himself to documenting and protecting Ontario barns constructed prior to 1959.

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The Auction Barn

Last fall, my husband and I moved to a rural one-acre property in Ontario’s Kawartha Lakes region. Farmers fields surround us and from every direction we see where the earth and sky meet. At night, stars are visible in the natural darkness and howling coyotes often lull us to sleep.

We also found unexpected pleasure in a local auction barn nestled on a nearby sideroad. About once a month, a blend of antique and contemporary pieces is auctioned off. Visiting there is a writer’s field trip. I’m always on the lookout for artifacts I might incorporate into my novels or short stories. We’ve seen Model-T Fords, Persian rugs, rustic cross-country skis, 200-yr-old furnishings, dishware, and collectibles.

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A Woman Looking Through a Window

Wouldn’t it be interesting if instead of writing our signatures, we were called upon to “sign” our names with a simple drawing of our choice? An image that represents us more accurately than an assemblance of letters? I know exactly what my drawing would be. A woman looking through a window.

In my mind, I carry so many snapshots, from over the years, of me looking through windows.

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