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The Heritage Barn Museum is devoted to telling the story of life on the family-owned farm.  The artifacts in the museum collection fall into one of the following four categories:

  1. Settler Tools (1850-1899)
  2. Family Farm Gadgets and Essentials
  3. Vintage Farm and Garden Equipment
  4. Memorabilia

The collection is displayed on the mow floor of a timber frame barn, the last of its type built in this part of Ontario’s Perth County.  The building itself is an artifact. 

The granary, with its wooden grain bins, displays the tools and equipment used in the handling and measuring of grain. 

The hay and straw chutes to the stable below remain to illustrate the handling of winter feed and bedding.

Walk through the gangway door and you walk back in time, and the story just begins….

Category 1 – Settler Tools (1850-1899)

Lewis Kirk was the first person to come to the immediate Kirkton area in 1849.  He was quickly followed by brother James, and eventually seven Kirk brothers took out leases of land from the Canada Company (pg. 28 – “Village Connections”).  There were no roads from the nearest settlements, so what they had they carried on their backs.  The museum contains a good collection of the tools they used in setting up their homesteads.

Of all the tools required to build a shelter for themselves, the double-bladed axe was the most important.  The museum collection also includes an axe-like tool to make scoops from tree branches for the roof; a log boat to move logs from cutting site to building site; broad axes to shape logs for walls; numerous other tools or implements for ploughing, and even an early spade plough, a wood-framed spike harrow and much more.

Category 2 – Family Farm Gadgets and Essentials

The greatest number of items falls into this category.  This can be referred to as the bottomless pit of collecting.  It is also the area where the museum excels in the teaching aspect.  It is here where you can learn about early syrup making, soap making, blacksmithing, seed cleaning, seed treating and the early ways of planting and cultivating.

The household area has kitchen gadgets and a parlour suite, equipment for washing clothes by hand and by machine, even spinning wool and making skeins.  After all the hard work is over, the museum can teach you how to get a nice even tan using 1932 hydro-electric Ultra Violet, Infra-red, carbon arc projecting equipment.  Bet that got your attention, didn’t it?  A page out of a 1932 catalogue explains it all, and story keeps going….

Category 3 – Vintage Farm & Garden Tractor Equipment

For any museum, this is a difficult category because of the physical size of the articles involved.  The problem gets worse when you factor in the number of manufacturers building identical pieces of equipment and painting them a different colour.  We tried to simplify the equation by choosing the colours red and cream and sticking to the Canadian builder Cockshutt.  In all, there are over 60 pieces of equipment carrying the Cockshutt name and colour.  We have walking ploughs, sulky ploughs, and gang ploughs before the colour red; tractor ploughs and also implements that spread fertilizer, sow seeds, make chop, cut hay and load it.

In all, there are 5 Cockshutt tractors: 30 Low profile and a 30 Industrial Fork Lift, 35 Low Profile with 3-point hitch for a lift plough,  and another with a draw bar shift lever for a drag plough; and to end out the collection is an Oliver Built Cockshutt 70 Standard.  

Did I mention the boardroom minute book and newspaper clipping collection?  I think by now you know the direction the current flows.

Category 4 – Memorabilia

Webster’s New World Dictionary describes memorabilia as: “things worth remembering or recording, as a collection of anecdotes, accounts, etc. or of mementos, esp. about one subject, event, etc.”

The memorabilia in the museum collection centres around mementos of the businesses in Kirkton and surrounding towns of Exeter, Mitchell and St. Marys.  We also have a good collection of Cockshutt mementos.

Our oldest reminder of a long-gone Kirkton business is a 7-gal. Pickle crock with finger painted flower made about 1887, a probable