Bill Gibb’s grandfather, William, and grandmother, Maude, homesteaded the property this barn sits on in 1904. Bill and his wife, Verna, received the Alberta Century Farm and Ranch Award in 2004 for 100 years of family farming on the original Skillymarno homestead. William and Maude chose to name the family home “Skillymarno” after a farm that William grew up next to in Scotland, his homeland.
William and Maude Gibb came to the area from Iowa in 1904. William had been up to Canada twice before 1904 to survey for potential land to homestead. William and Maude had two small sons at the time, both boys were born in 1902 in Iowa. There names were Kenneth Samuel Gibb and Marion William Gibb. Maude Gibb went the whole journey with the two two-year-olds on her knees – she said she would never do that again! In 1905, William and Maude had a third child, a girl named Florence. Bill Gibb says that, to his knowledge, she was the first Caucasian girl born in the area.
The barn was built in June of 1916. It was a very rainy June and that made construction very difficult. A large construction company out of Edmonton was brought in and built the barn. The many men they brought in slept onsite.
The wood in the barn is all fir and came by rail to the region, most likely from British Columbia. Construction was started in June of 1916 and ended later that summer. The sand used to create cement was hauled by the wagon load to the barn site from a nearby hill. The concrete foundation and floor needed about 300 horse-drawn wagon loads of sand. Additionally, they needed about 300 horse-drawn wagon loads of sand to level the ground on the North side of the barn. The sand for the North side was an accidental necessity – they weren’t planning on the need. The first 300 loads of sand that the Gibb family collected were unfit for mixing to make concrete. As a result, the family had to dig deeper to reach better quality sand. They used the original loads for leveling the North side of the barn once they discovered that it was uneven.
The barn is 36 feet by 36 feet by 100 feet. It also has 51 rafters spaced 2 feet apart. The concrete for the foundation and ground floor was all hand mixed and hand poured. The barn was first painted in 1948 by four young men. Their names were Freddie Vanheist, Clayton Hayward, Hunton Hayward, and Bob Weeks. They painted the siding red and the shingles green. The northern half of the barn used to house horses while the southern half housed beef cattle. The cattle were pure bred Black Angus from Scotland.
William Gibb established his family’s Black Angus operation on February 8, 1921. Before this, he took a long trip to Scotland in 1920/1921 to search for and buy Angus. The trip was extensive and William kept a log of the purchases, you can see photos of it below. William purchased nine females and 2 bulls. The family sold and shipped Angus all over the world: Canada, the United States, France, Argentina, and even back to Scotland.
Ken Gibb inherited the barn after William. Ken used the barn for Angus until about 1950. After that, Ken kept most of his herd outside in pens and only calved and halter-broke cattle inside the barn. Bill Gibb was born to Ken and Helen Gibb in May of 1941. Bill and Verna stopped raising Black Angus in 1985, their herd had been active for 64 years.
Currently, the barn sits idle with cable supports helping to hold it up. Luckily, the barn was never used to store grain as many other barns would have been.
Gibb, Bill. Personal communication. 31 May 2017.
52.768021, -111.919860 NE 02-44-14 W4
Barn Condition: Poor
Construction Date: 1916
Features: Two wooden cupolas and hay hood, hay track, and hay carrier
Roof Shape: Gambrel
Decorations: No names or dates
Roof Covering: Wooden shingles
Siding: Wooden drop siding
Additional History on the Property
Willam Gibb. Aberdeen-Angus Cattle in Canada. 1st ed. Crawford, F.W. , 1985, pg. 616. Print.
History of Gibb Herds
The Gibb Herds of Killam, Alberta – From 1920 – Skillymarno and Grand View. The Canadian Angus History: Update. 1st ed. The Canadian Aberdeen-Angus Association, 1985, pg. 104-106 Print.