• James Armstrong

Hudsonite publishes survey of barns in photos and words


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

Nostalgic and eminently practical forms of architecture, barns are a fascinating subject for local author and historian Rod Hodgson.

Hudson historian and author Roderick L. Hodgson has just published his 14th book, Barns – Classic Structures From Across the Land.

“It’s my best book, by far,” the author told The Journal and it represents an enduring passion Hodgson has for the subject.

The coffee table size, soft cover volume weighs in at 131 pages filled with colour photographs of barns ranging from historic local barns to classic structures found in the United States and Europe. The cover photo, taken by Bob Houghton of Vaudreuil-Dorion, is a century-old barn located on Route Harwood that catches perfectly the spirit of the publication – an evocation of the past and a clear-eyed view of current and future barns.

Mount Victoria Farm

“The unique and classic barns of the past are changing to accommodate the needs of modern farming,” said Hodgson. Indeed, some of the barns included in the book have disappeared such as the large edifice known as the Mount Victoria barn in Hudson – possibly the most famous farming complex in Quebec, owned by Thomas B. Macaulay who developed the famous Holstein bloodline of cattle that was recognized by farmers around the world. An entire chapter of the book is devoted to the history of Mount Victoria.

Modern methods

In contrast, a 21st Century dairy farm north of Bowmanville in Durham County, Ontario features all the latest in modern milking methods. The open concept barn houses 85 Holsteins and the milking system is completely robotic.

Initially, Hodgson simply enjoyed taking photographs of barns.

“I took 90 per cent of the pictures not thinking about doing a book about barns because there are so many out there,” he said. Eventually, he took the plunge, dedicating the book to Professor Fred A. Dahms who taught Urban Geography at the University of Guelph when Hodgson studied there in the early 1970s. Hodgson attributes his own success in Town Planning and Urban Geography to Dahm’s influence as a teacher.

Favourite barns

Choosing as favourite barn might not be an easy task for someone so immersed in the subject. Hodgson was swift to choose the well-maintained ochre-coloured barn on Route 148 in Montebello, Quebec. A close second was the colourfully repurposed Closson Chase Vineyards barn in Hillier, Ontario. The gambrel style barn was renovated and painted an appealing shade of bright purple and used as an outlet for the vineyard with an additional patio for wine tasting purposes.

Round barns

Round, or multi-sided barns, are extremely rare according to Hodgson. The oldest polygonal barn in Canada known as the Grange Alexander Solomon-Walbridge barn is located in Mystic, Quebec. Built in 1882, it is one of three 12-sided barns the still exist in Canada. Echoes of the architecture of these barns can be seen in the Shakespeare Festival Theatre in Stratford, Ontario Hodgson noted.

Local distribution

With the first print run having successfully sold out, Hodgson is currently reprinting Barns – Classic Structures From Across the Land. Copies will be available at Hudson Gallery Plus, 448 Main Road, Hudson and May’s Studio, 459 Main Road, Hudson.

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