New Brunswick

Doak House barn to be rebuilt

A historic barn in Doaktown will be rebuilt to honour its place in the province’s history.

Reconstruction of the barn is scheduled for 2017 and will see it featured as tourism feature

The original Doak House barn was first built in the 1820s. (Government of New Brunswick)

A historic barn in Doaktown will be rebuilt to honour its place in the province's history.

The original barn, built by the Doak family in the 1820s, was demolished in June after structural damage and rotting deemed it too dangerous for further use.

The provincial government recently issued a tender for the reconstruction of the barn, which it will fund along with the Atlantic Salmon Museum.

Plans are to turn the new barn into a tourism feature, said Valerie O'Donnell, who manages the Doak House historic site.

"The plan is to build it as a replica of the old barn but there will not be any animals kept in it anymore," she said.

The new barn will be used as a welcome and interpretation centre.

Visitors can learn about the site's history and the story of the Doak family. There will also be a space for demonstrations on everything from weaving, to wool-dyeing and spinning, said O'Donnell.

"We also hope to have an area where we can have some artifacts and some history and some genealogy on the Doaktown history," she said.

Doak family

The Doak family arrived in New Brunswick from Ayrshire, Scotland in 1815.

Robert Doak, his wife and two children were on their way to Kentucky, when a storm on the Atlantic forced their ship to dock in the Miramichi Harbour.

O'Donnell said the family had worked in the lumber business in Scotland and decided to stay in New Brunswick after discovering the province had its own thriving timber industry.

Doak first worked as an innkeeper in the Miramichi area but eventually moved upriver with his brother and father to start a sawmill. Their new community, then known as Betts Settlement, would later become Doaktown, based on the family's successes.

"They stayed there all their lives," said O'Donnell.

Original furniture

The last heir of the family, Margaret Doak, died in 1979. She left the family property to the province to be used as a museum. The property also contains the family home, a milk house and a local school building dating back to 1822.

The property reopened as a historical site in 1984. O'Donnell said it still houses a lot of the original furniture that was brought over from Scotland.

"It's all set up as if they were there doing their house keeping back in the 1860s," she said. "They have their butter-making things there and their looms and all their dishes."

Plans for the reconstruction of the barn include new barrier-free washrooms, a kitchen and a community room. The town also wants to keep one side of the barn open to house local markets and community picnics, said O'Donnell.

A construction contract has not yet been awarded but the province hopes to see the project completed in 2017.

With files from Shift New Brunswick