Historic barn on the move in Beaumont
The 5,000-square-foot structure will be retrofitted and used as a community hall
Adelle Madu watched with excitement as the white clapboard of her grandfather's barn creaked and moaned, pried off its foundations.
The weathered structure, which has been a landmark on the family farm for generations, was heaved onto the back of a cherry red transport truck, and moved six kilometres down the road to its new home at the Beaumont Fairgrounds.
The massive undertaking Tuesday was Madu's way of preserving one small part of her family's legacy in Leduc County. With the rapid development of rural land in the area between Beaumont and Edmonton, Madu feared the structure would be lost.
"All the farms just north of us are all gone," said Madu. "It's all houses and industrial parks, and I could see our yard was the next yard that was going to go, and the barn would just be demolished and sent to the dump.
"And dad kept it up so nice. We thought we could use it for something, to preserve the history."
Her family, the Gobeils, has deep roots in the area. They were one of many francophone pioneer families who settled in Beaumont over a century ago.
The white-washed relic was built in the early 1940s by her grandfather, Earnest Gobeil.
"He would buy all the farms in the area for his sons," said Madu. "He had about five or six farms, so when they got married, they each got a farm and paid him off."
Decades later, Madu's parents expanded the barn for their dairy operation. In 1961, they converted the building to accommodate a small chicken hatchery.
It took several days for movers to lift the 5,000-square-foot structure off its foundation, and carefully suspend it onto the back of the chassis.
Weighing 80,000 pounds, it was carried across the family's rugged farmland and local range roads before it arrived safely to its destination Tuesday morning.
"They had to build it up and then put it on wheels. And off it went through the fields, across the road, and then through another field," said Madu who orchestrated the move on behalf of her family.
All four generations of the family, along with dozens of friends, relatives and Leduc County residents came by to watch the spectacle.
"All these people are coming, so we're going to need security to guide the parking in the field so people can literally sit in their cars, with a coffee maybe, and watch the barn go by in the field in front of them."
The move comes after the family, Beaumont And District Agricultural Society and the Beaumont and District Heritage Society all signed a memorandum of understanding to preserve the old relic in January of last year.
Now that the barn has made its maiden voyage, it will be refurbished and brought up to code so it can be used by the community for a variety of uses, weddings, barn dances and educational programming for local schools.
"The big thing is helping to preserve the agricultural history of the pioneers of Beaumont, so we will be having lots of programs and events to remember the old days, as they say," said Madu.