The barn featured in this profile is located on the quarter-section of land which was homesteaded by Peter Nordstrom in 1905. Peter came from Sweden to the Revelstoke area in British Columbia in 1904. Peter heard of nearly free land in Alberta and made plans over the 1904-1905 winter to homestead in Alberta. You can read more about Peter and the process he went through to acquire land and build a homestead at the end of this barn profile.
In 1927, the foundation was laid for the barn. This barn was intended to replace the original gable-roofed barn which had been built some years earlier on a different site on the farm. In 1928, the upper part of the new barn was built out of fir lumber which had been ordered from British Columbia. The barn was built using frame construction and balloon framing. Peter Nordstrom hired Philip Nelson as the main carpenter for the barn and Gustaf Lundgren as an assistant. Gustaf had immigrated to Canada in the same year as Peter’s wife, Kristina.
The new barn was built with the use of hand tools only as there were no electric tools in those days. Albert Nordstrom, Peter and Kristina’s youngest son, liked to tell the story that his Dad and the other carpenters had to sharpen their handsaws every night to keep them in good working condition. Building the barn required a lot of skilled manual labor, but the builders knew what they were doing! The final product is a fine example of handcraftsmanship. It still stands strong and steady today, albeit still showing signs of weathering.
This barn brought a critical new piece of equipment to the Nordstrom farm – the hay carrier. Peter, and later his son Albert, liked to use three sets of slings when loading and unloading a wagon of hay. When a wagon was being loaded, one sling would be laid along the bottom of the wagon and covered with a layer of hay, then another sling would be laid on top of that layer and loaded with hay, followed by the third sling and a final layer of hay. When unloading the wagon, the slings would be attached one at a time to the hay carrier and then pulled up and into the loft by a team of horses or a tractor. It would take three trips of the hay carrier to unload a full wagon. When Albert took over the farm, he would often use his Ford tractor to pull the slings up and into the loft instead of a team of horses like his father always used.
If you wish to see a video of a hay carrier system in action or learn more about hay carriers please click here and scroll to the “Hay Carrier System” section. Finally, you can see a picture of the Nordstrom’s hay sling in action at the end of this profile’s photo section. Wayne Nordstrom fondly remembers not only operating the hay sling with his father, Albert, but also playing in the barn’s loft as a kid with his siblings when the chores were complete. Nothing like the smell of fresh hay in the hayloft!
Many different animals were kept in this barn over the years. When Peter first started homesteading he used oxen for his farm work but soon switched to horses. After the barn described in this profile was built, Peter not only used it to house his draft horses, as he no longer had oxen, but also his milk cows and some of the other farm animals. When Peter had the barn, he ran a mixed-farm operation with milk cows, beef cattle, pigs, sheep and chickens. Except for the brief period of time when Peter used oxen, all his farm work was done with horses. He never did own a tractor.
Albert Nordstrom, Peter’s son, took over the farm in 1952. From that point onward, most of the farm work was done with tractors and associated equipment. The farm was sold to the Dragani family in 1974. Domenico and Maria lived there until the fall of 2013. The Dragani family mostly used the barn for storing hay and other needs related to their beef cattle operation.
Nordstrom, Wayne. Personal communication. 19 Jul. 2017.
52.874861, -111.625802 SE 14-45-12 W4
Barn Condition: Fair
Construction Date: 1927/1928
Features: Two cupolas, hay hood, hay carrier, hay track
Roof Shape: Gambrel
Decorations: The phrase, “1927 PN” is stamped into the foundation on the southern face
Roof Covering: Wooden shingles
Siding: Wooden shiplap
Additional History on the Property
Nordstrom Family History
Nordstrom, Ab. “Mr. and Mrs. Peter Nordstrom History”. Sedgewick Sentinel: A History of Sedgewick and Surrounding Districts. 1st Ed. Sedgewick: Sedgewick Historical Society, 1982. Print.
Additional information can be gleaned from Peter and Kristina Nordstrom’s biography, written by their grandson in 2014. Portions of that biography are shown below. Please click the tiles to enlarge them and, if needed, open the enlarged tile in a new tab to zoom in.
Nordstrom, Wayne. Per and Kristina Nordstrom – Their Story – From Sweden’s Trails to Canadian Farm. 1st ed. Edmonton: Wayne Nordstrom, 2014. Print.