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Our Rural Heritage

Title-Image-ENCanada's built heritage is an important guide to our past. Buildings noted for their historic and other associated values are not only found in city centres but also in our rural environment. Indeed, Canada has a rich tradition of rural ways of life, evidence of which is expressed in many historic places. Some of them commemorate important achievements in agriculture, an industry that reaches an important peak in the late summer and fall seasons. Let's celebrate the harvest and get in the Thanksgiving spirit by exploring some of our country's rural and agricultural heritage places.

The cultural landscape of Grand Pré in Nova Scotia is an excellent example of how settlers adapted farming techniques to life in a new land. In the 17th century, Grand Pré was the site of the innovations in farming techniques, including the use of wooden aboiteaus, which are still in use today. For these reasons, and for its strong ties with the Acadians throughout the world, it was listed as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2012.

Farmer's Market BuildingThe Farmer's Market Building in Welland, Ontario (left) is a testament to the importance of agriculture to the community's historical livelihood, and the building maintains an ongoing association with its agrarian past. Built in 1919, the building is a unique blend of Spanish revival and Prairie styles. The market always took place on this site, and the building was constructed to meet the needs of a growing agricultural community and rising farming industry in the Niagara region.

A less common rural building is the Strathclair Agricultural Society Bandstand in Manitoba. Built in 1900, it is located in the town's fairgrounds and was designed for use as an outdoor entertainment venue. The bandstand is a community gathering place where concerts were held for the benefit of returning veterans, among other uses. After a long day's work in the fields, farmers could come to Strathclair and enjoy a summer's evening entertainment. The Strathclair Bandstand is one of a few other bandstands, both ural and urban, that are listed on the Canadian Register of Hstoric Places.

Octagonal buildingOctagon-shaped farm buildings were in fashion across Canada for a brief period in the early 20th century. Saskatchewan's Octagonal Building (right) was built in 1905 on the Prince Albert Exhibition Grounds. The building's height adds to its prominence as a landmark in the Exhibition Grounds. The Ladies' Section of the Lorne Agricultural Society initiated the construction of this building as a place to display produce, baking, needlework and horticultural products. The building's second floor was used for community gatherings and social activities.

Once found everywhere in the prairies, grain elevators are becoming rare. The Old Val Marie Elevator in Saskatchewan is one of the last remaining grain elevators in the area and speaks to the development of the grain industry in Canada's Prairies. The elevator was built around 1924, with an addition in the 1950s, and was operational until 2000. The structure still stands today and represents the community's rich agricultural history.

Stewart farmA beautifully intact farm complex is the Stewart Farm in Surrey, British Columbia (left). This farm is comprised of eight traditional farm buildings: a farmhouse, a root cellar, a wood shed, a pole barn, a bunkhouse, a machine shed, a threshing machine shed and a garage. It is the only remaining farmstead of its kind in the region and is associated with pioneer life. The farmhouse dates from 1894, while the other buildings were added between 1894 and the 1920s. The farm's development also reflects changes in society. For example, the farm's owner, John Stewart, owned an early Model T truck and he therefore needed a purpose-built garage. The Stewart Farm is protected and is operated by the City of Surrey as a museum promoting the agricultural heritage of the area.

The Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa, Ontario is a large rural and agricultural landscape within Canada's capital city. The designation includes built and natural components of the farm, including traditional structures, a flower garden and an arboretum. The farm is also home to the Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum, a space where the public can come to learn about farm life, experimental crops and innovations in our agricultural heritage.

There are so many ways to learn about our rural heritage. Historic farms, farmers markets, silos and barns can be found across the country and remind us that our rural past is tied importantly to agriculture and farming. Thanksgiving is a perfect time to acknowledge those who have worked so hard to build Canada's rural heritage!