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Ghost Barns of Coaticook

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larger_beaulne.3.jpg--January 18, 2011.

Old barns in Quebec are receiving more and more attention these days. People, it would seem, are finally beginning to recognize these structures as the important aspects of our architectural heritage that they are. Books, documentaries, restoration projects, and now an art exhibition in Coaticook are just some of the ways that historic barns are being spotlighted.

"Ghost Barns" is the title of a new show at the Beaulne Museum in Coaticook. Inaugurated this past weekend, the show focuses on the old and decaying barns of the Eastern Townships, and features the paintings of artist Margot Graham Heyerhoff.

According to the artist, "it is said that, in Quebec alone, more than 1,000 old barns collapse or must be demolished every year. I have seen several tumble down and disappear near my own home in recent years. This observation was the thought behind this exhibition - to explore my part of the Townships looking for barns which are dark, disused and in their decline, and to share, through paint and canvas, how they make me feel - melancholy and with a sense of loss."

Says Margot Graham Heyerhoff, "these are the ‘ghost’ barns - they tell us of a tradition and craftsmanship hardly found today. They stand silhouetted against the land and sky speaking to us of an earlier life we cannot visit and representing a heritage that we are losing. The ghost barns are mysterious presences. They loom over us darkly with their odd shapes and sizes and they lean over us, half skeletal, tired from the weight they have borne for so many years, as they slowly die in front of our eyes."

The Beaulne Museum, which was founded in 1977, occupies Château Norton, the sprawling Queen Ann-style mansion built by Coaticook industrialist and inventor Arthur Osmore Morton in 1912. The museum has a threefold mission: the preservation of local history; the interpretation of costumes and textiles; and the promotion of fine and decorative arts.
The Beaulne Museum is located at 96 Union Street in Coaticook. "Ghost Barns" continues until March 6, 2011. For more information, call (819) 849-6560.