by Isabel Mosseler

Buildings are collapsing in Northeastern Ontario, and the region around West Nipissing is no exception. Within four days following the rain of February 21, which glued the snow to the roofs of barns and out-buildings, six farm buildings were reported to have collapsed, four of them confirmed by the owners, and two yet to be confirmed. In two cases, the barns were housing livestock; the cattle barn on the Willy Leeftink / Anna Carstens farm in Markstay-Warren and Claudia Peloso’s horse barn in Warren. Raymond Brouillette in Verner and Noël Michel in Lavigne also experienced storage barn collapses. The two unconfirmed collapses include a structure in Cache Bay and a partial collapse in Verner. 

“It’s totalled,” said Raymond Brouillette of Verner, speaking of his barn on Betty Road that was being used to house vintage cars and boats. It suffered a complete collapse. “We can’t get in there; it’s too dangerous. I removed the snow at the back but you can’t go in to try to rescue anything.” He didn’t yet have an estimate of the damage. “We can’t do anything until spring. It was built in 1964, it’s not really that old and the reason it collapsed was because of all the rain we had… It froze on the roof and stopped the snow from sliding off.” Brouillette was storing for others. “I have a few disappointed people, but what can you do?” He won’t be rebuilding.

The Noel Michel farm on Michel Road in Lavigne also had a storage barn go down. Michel was a bit more philosophical about it. “That was an old barn anyway… It went down during the last big storm, Thursday. I had three tractors in there, they were working tractors and right now I’ve got to fix them.” The barn was not insured. “When I got up in the morning I looked outside and saw the roof wasn’t there. I got one tractor out because I needed it. If we get another storm, I need the tractor to clear the driveway.” He said he had to repair the roof on the cab of his tractor. Michel estimated that his barn was about 80 years old, having been erected by his father. Now he’s looking at a pile of barn board.

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Six men narrowly escape death after removing snow and ice from roof

The barn roof at the Willy Leeflink / Anna Carstens farm (Markstay-Warren) collapsed in the early morning of February 23rd. The barn housed close to 50 cattle, but Anna Carstens managed to find alternate shelter for half her herd, while the other half had to go to sale. This was one of four confirmed barn collapses in the area around the Family Day weekend as a result of ice and snow build-up.

Farming community rallies after several barns collapse

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