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This article first appeared in the August 31, 2011 issue of the The Low Down to Hull and Back News.External Link Reprinted with permission. Search complete list of Low Down Articles.

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Familiar Hwy 105 landmark in dire need of salvaging work

by James Far

The big, red barn weathering on the corner of Carman Road and Hwy 105, a Gatineau Hills landmark for many, is badly in need of some restoration.

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The landmark barn at Carman and the 105 has thus far had no luck in getting interest from restoration specialists after storm damage hit in July. James Farr photo.

Inclement weather has itself been a familiar sight in the Hills this summer, and in early July storm damage took its toll on this historic building, blowing out parts of the barnboard siding and causing some of the structural beams to crack.

The property owners - Keith and Lela Bates, who are 78 and 76, respectively - want to revamp the old barn before winter hits.

A quick inspection of the barn yields impressive sights. A huge, imposing structure (it's no wonder everyone uses it in giving directions!) built of huge timbers sitting atop a high concrete foundation, it seems hard to believe anything could harm it until one considers its age.

The barn used to stand in Cascades at Keith's grandfather's farm. When the Gatineau powers-that-be (or been, in this case perhaps) expropriated the land in 1927, the Bates relocated and, amazingly, disassembled their barn and rebuilt it where it stands today.

So while the current incarnation of the barn is almost 100 years old, the Bates' can't even say how old it really is: "It could be 170 years old, I don't know," Keith surmised.

Along with its important personal and historic value, the Bates are also looking to restore the barn "for resale of the farm," Lela said.

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A summer sky peeks through the exterior damage done to Lela and Keith Bates' iconic red barn. James Farr photo.

It's been about ten or twelve years since they've have worked the farm, Lela estimates, and so although the barn has been storing hay, Lela and Keith more or less "don't use it."

Thus far, however, it's been a hard go with the restoration efforts. Lela noted with some exasperation that "three people called and nobody came." As for those who did show up to examine the barn, as soon as they saw it "they backed up and said no."

At this point, the Bates' are hoping the provincial government will restore it, as they have a historical stake in the building.

After all the hassle, the Bates would "much rather the government just did it."

"We can't repair it on our own," Lela added.

The giant heirloom will hopefully be restored before winter storms ravage it any further. As an important link to the community's past, the Bates recognize the magnitude of the potential loss: "The municipality would really get upset about that," said Keith.

ld to "continue for a couple of clicks past the big red barn", its vanishing would be marked.

"It's really a landmark," Lela said. "It has been forever."