Architecture #1: Interesting barn trusses

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Blog entry by Woodcanuck posted 06-22-2010 07:57 PM 2637 reads 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Architecture series Part 2: The boathouse, wooden wheels and giant grinding wheels »

A couple of years ago, the family took a roadtrip out to the east coast. I stumbled across these pictures and thought I’d share them, just for the curiosity they present.

While visiting a heritage site called Ministers Island in New Brunswick, we explored the buildings on this site (the summer cottage of Sir William Van Horne, engineer behind building the railroad across Canada).

The buildings on the site were built around 1892, though the original settlement on the island was about 100 years earlier by an Anglican priest (thus the name).

Ok…enough history lessons.

The thing that really intrigued me was when we went into the barn…which is impressive in size alone, but even moreso because of the way it was constructed.

The only skilled workers available in the area at the time were boatbuilders, so this is who Van Horne commissioned to construct the buildings. The result is that the truss architecture in the barn is very unusual and if you know what to look for, you will see dramatic similarities between the truss structure of the roof and the construction of a large turn of the century ship. The boatbuilders knew little of building construction, so they relied on their knowledge of boatbuilding to frame up the barn.

Here are a couple of pictures….they don’t do it justice, but it’s unusual to look at and impressive to see in person. Certainly not something you’ll find in your local subdivision. :-)

-- Ian - Life's a game, if you don't play, you can't win.

6 comments so far

View chrisstef's profile


17378 posts in 3001 days

#1 posted 06-22-2010 10:32 PM

now that is cool … ive never seen framing like that before. Thanks for sharing

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View nailbanger2's profile


1041 posts in 3138 days

#2 posted 06-22-2010 11:01 PM

That is very neat, could you tell us, were the crossmembers sort of half-lapped and then pegged? Or just pegged.

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

View a1Jim's profile


117090 posts in 3571 days

#3 posted 06-22-2010 11:10 PM

Very cool

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Woodcanuck's profile


128 posts in 2995 days

#4 posted 06-23-2010 02:07 AM

I believe they were just pegged.

If you look at the joint between the vertical supports and the ones that are leaning a few degrees off vertical you’ll also see some iron rings around the angled butt joints…I’m not sure if this is typical boatbuilding joinery or not, but it’s a novel idea and forces a tighter joint as the weight of the roof pushes them down.

-- Ian - Life's a game, if you don't play, you can't win.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18266 posts in 3670 days

#5 posted 06-23-2010 06:55 AM

Interesting to see how they framed that barn. Lost a lot of hay storage space compared to how Gothic rofs are farmed.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Edziu's profile


151 posts in 3045 days

#6 posted 06-23-2010 03:30 PM

Quite neat! Thanks for sharing. When you think about it, what is a barn but a boat turned upside down? Ok, well there are some differences, but it’s probably what these guys were saying to each other.

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