Historic Halton Hills barn from Group of Seven painting will be returned to former glory


Published May 1, 2023 at 1:20 pm

A Halton Hills barn that served as inspiration to renowned Canadian artist AJ Casson is getting a facelift, thanks to the Town’s Heritage Property Grant Program.

Casson, a member of the Group of Seven, used the Glen Williams structure known as the Barrett Barn as the back drop for his 1932 painting Old Man in a Rocker.

Current owners, Dave and Dale Cox (renowned artists and animators) were delighted to learn that their barn had been a source of inspiration.

“A neighbour informed us that A.J. Casson had done a painting of the barn on one of his sojourns to our Glen,” said Dave. “As collectors of his art, we recognized the significance of the barn as his model for painting.”

Built in 1919, the barn has been altered over the years, with several structural issues throughout. However, the owners have undertaken a massive restoration of the barn with some support provided through the Town’s program.

“In 1978, when we came with the Realtor to the home in the pouring rain, we both knew that it would be ours,” said Dale. “The barn in front of us and the house on the embankment and what we later found out to be 1/2 of an acre which went as far as our neighbours to the south.”

The couple has committed to the restoration of the barn and its original features that have been lost through the years. Passionate community members, chosen as the Citizens of the Year for Glen Williams in 2015 and Georgetown in 2016, the couple have engaged heritage consultants ERA Architects Inc. to restore the barn to its former glory.

“Restoring our heritage buildings helps maintain our sense of place, our uniqueness as a community,” said Halton Hills Mayor Ann Lawlor. “We all benefit from the Cox’s passion. I am delighted that the Town is able to contribute a grant to help preserve this special structure that tells a local history story.”

Work on the restoration project has already begun, and the first phase of work includes structural stabilization, repair of the existing metal roofing, and installation of a new rainwater system. Future phases of the work will include the restoration of features that have been altered over time, including the window on the first storey of the barn as seen in Casson’s 1932 oil painting.

Given the extent of the undertaking, the work for the Barrett Barn is being done in phases, with plans to submit applications to the Town’s Heritage Property Grant Program each year for different parts of the project.

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