1877 Barn

The Industrial Farm at the Poor House

The House of Industry and Refuge (or Poor House) was built in 1877 and designed to operate run as a self-sufficient farm. The original barn, also built in 1877, is still on site. The barn was built by Mr. John Taylor, of Elora, and Richard Ferguson.

photograph of 3-dimensional Barn Model our 1877 Historic BarnCaption: Build this printable 3-dimensional scale model of our historic barn. 

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In 2011, the barn was opened as a public exhibit and rental facility space (on a seasonal basis). For more information on the barn renovations please watch the Stable Restoration video below.

Download History of the 1877 Barn pdf

Thirty of the farm's fifty acres were under cultivation. Able bodied inmates (residents of the Poor House) were expected to help tend the crops, gardens, and orchards as well as feeding cattle, hogs, and hens. Each year, hundreds of jars of fruit and vegetables were preserved. Only staples such as bread, some butchered meat, and sugar were purchased from local businesses. The Farm serviced the House of Industry and Refuge until 1947, and continued to operate even after it became a Long Term Care Home until 1971. 

The 1877 Barn underwent several changes over the years: concrete floors were poured in the stables in 1909, electricity was installed in 1910, the silo was built in 1914, a hen house was added in 1918, and the stables were modernized in 1937. In 1942, the barn’s beam structure was changed to allow for a hay carrier system.

Table 1: Industrial Farm Production
Production19271943Livestock on Hand, 1941
Potatoes 160 bags 250 bags

1 team of old horses

1 brood mare

8 grade cows

1 Jersey bull

5 Jersey heifers

6 Jersey heifer calves

3 grade heifers

11 hogs

135 hens

Turnips 660 bushels 750 bushels
Mangels nil 800 bushels
Hay 30 ton 50 ton
Grain 550 bushels oats 1500 bushels mixed
Eggs 299 dozen 1800 dozen
Butter 808 pounds 2500 pounds
Fruit and Pickles canned 460 jars 1750 jars

Caption: This table highlights the Industrial Farm Production in 1927 and 1943, and lists the livestock on hand in 1941.

In 1941, livestock included 135 hens, 11 hogs and a herd of cows, calves, bulls and heifers. Jersey cows were kept at the Farm until new pasteurization regulations came into effect. The dairy herd was replaced with beef cattle in 1958. During the Second World War, the entire front lawn of the Poor House was planted in potatoes! 

Click here to view more information on the Poor House

© 2020 County of Wellington, 74 Woolwich St. Guelph, Ontario N1H 3T9, T 519.837.2600, TF 1.800.663.0750, F 519.837.1909