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Torkelson Farm Site

Lake Alma RM 8, Saskatchewan, S0C, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1989/01/09

Distant view of Torkelson Farm, looking north west, 1997.; Government of Saskatchewan, Frank Korvemaker, 1997.
Torkelson Farm Site.
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Other Name(s)

Torkelson Farm Site
Torkelson Farm Barn

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1915/01/01 to 1924/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/07/28

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Torkelson Farm Site is a Municipal Heritage Property consisting of approximately 64 hectares located approximately 10 kilometres Northeast of the village of Lake Alma. The property features a large fieldstone barn built in 1915, a 7,000 bushel granary built in 1918, and a wooden windmill built in 1924.

Heritage Value

Standing as a testament to the local adaptations made by the settlers who arrived in this area of Saskatchewan during the early 20th century, the Torkelson Farm Site is valued for its scientific innovation and its association with the prairie settlement process. The property was homesteaded in 1912 by Norwegian-American immigrants, Ole and Selma Torkelson. Designed by Ole Torkelson, the barn was built by a Norwegian born carpenter and mason, Lauritz Bergum. The barn is a testament to the physical prowess, talents and skills of Bergum, who constructed it virtually single-handedly in a period of one and a half years. Using only horse drawn equipment, Bergum cut a trench through a hill on the property inside of which the barn was constructed. The lower level was constructed with fieldstone masonry walls with doors placed at each end. Above the masonry, a drive-in hayloft was built with ramps built of rock and earth that connected the barn to the hillside. This innovation allowed hay to be driven directly into the loft and unloaded. Bergum built the barn by mixing mortar with a hoe and shovel in a mixing box, by cutting lumber with a handsaw and by cutting rock with a rock hammer. The use of a gambrel roof, popular on barn construction, provided significant interior volume for the hayloft and the symmetrically-placed cupolas served to ventilate the animal stalls on the first level. Bergum also painted the barn himself, using a mixture of ochre and linseed oil.

In 1918 the Torkelsons added a 7,000 bushel granary to their farm site. Similar to the barn, the granary was built into a hill. This allowed grain to be unloaded into the granary at the top of the hill without any other equipment. In addition to the granary the Torkelsons added a wooden windmill to their farm site in 1924 to take advantage of the prevailing winds.


Rural Municipality of Lake Alma No. 8 Bylaw No. 3-89 of 1989.

Character-Defining Elements

The heritage value of the Torkelson Farm Site resides in the following character-defining elements:
-those elements that reflect the adaptation of the Site to the local conditions, including the fieldstone walls of the first level of the barn and the granary, the positioning of the barn and granary in the hillside to facilitate access to the second level, the large entry doors on both levels of the barn, the gambrel roof and symmetrically-placed ventilation cupolas on the barn, and the metal windmill tower set on a wood-frame base.




Recognition Authority

Local Governments (SK)

Recognition Statute

Heritage Property Act, s. 11(1)(a)

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Property

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Peopling the Land

Function - Category and Type


Food Supply
Farm or Ranch


Architect / Designer

Ole Torkelson


Lauritz Bergum

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Department of Culture Youth and Recreation Heritage Resources Branch 1919 Saskatchewan Drive Regina, SK File: MHP 1153

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

MHP 1153



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