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Le Courant

Automne 2011 | 13

The long barn

Eugene Orson Baldwin 1866-1939 The Long Barn, or the Ferme du Plateau de Coaticook, was constructed at 129 rue Morgan, Coaticook, Quebec by Eugene Baldwin in 1912. This means that next year the barn will observe the Centennial Anniversary in existence. Biography of Eugene Baldwin Eugene Orson Baldwin was born at Barford on July 1, 1866 and was the only child of Ozro O. Baldwin (1836-1911) and Nancy J. Piper (1836-1903). He studied to become a teacher at Bishop's College in Lennoxville, Quebec and did do some educational work upon completion of his studies. On May 22, 1889 he married Alice Maria French (born 1862), the daughter of John and Emma French from Compton County. Eugene and Alice would have one child, Blanche (1894-1912). Eugene Baldwin held a number of positions during the course of his lifetime: custom's officer, amateur electrician, photographer, gentleman farmer, mayor of Coaticook in 1924 and 1925, writer and author. He would ''die'' in Chatauqua, New York August 22, 1939 and his death certificate would note that his final occupation had been ''retired merchant''. This man was always thought of as being an odd person in the family for his unusual thoughts and practices. Nevertheless, in polite company he was always referred to as being eccentric. 1893 A few years before the citizens of Dixville had electrical power made available to them, Eugene Baldwin, who lived at 300, ch. Parker in Dixville, installed electric lighting to his home through the use of wind power. Of course, all the other homes in Dixville were still being lit by kerosene lamps. Can you imagine the talk in the village when the people became aware of the fact that the Baldwin household was being lit by electricity? The following article was first published by The Montreal Witness newspaper and copied by the New York Times in their issue of December 13, 1893. Ingenious Arrangement by a Canadian Electrician. Eugene Baldwin, an amateur electrician, has put about twenty sixteen-candle-power incandescent lamps into his residence, at Dixville, Quebec, which he is going to light with storage batteries, manufactured by himself, and so arranged and connected with a dynamo and wind wheel that the whole arrangement will work almost automatically. A short distance from his dwelling he has erected a tower 58 feet high. Upon this tower is a sixteen-foot galvanized steel wind wheel, which is connected to a vertical shaft with the machinery below. In the base of the tower there is a room 14 feet square, in which are the dynamo regulator which keeps the electric potential at a uniform voltage. There is, in addition to this, an electro-magnetic switch that opens and closes the circuit of the charging current whenever the potential of the dynamo, in stopping, falls below the voltage of accumulators, or rises above it in starting. The storage batteries are designed to lay up a supply of electricity sufficient to light the lamps for three or four evenings, in case of a lack of wind for motive power. 1912 The year 1912 was a pivotal year in the life of Eugene Baldwin. On January 7, 1912 after working as a custom's officer since before the birth of his daughter, the Department of Customs, Canada issued an edict for the removal of Eugene Baldwin from the office of the Coaticook Custom's Service and he was dismissed. On September 5, 1912 his beautiful and beloved daughter Blanche was interred in Mount Forest Cemetery in Coaticook. Eugene and Alice would never come to accept her death and within a short period of time turned to Spiritualism. The year 1912 was also the year that Eugene Baldwin constructed the Long Barn in Coaticook. Blanche Baldwin (1894-1912) The local newspaper, The Coaticook Observer, printed the notice of her death as part of their local news coverage on August 9, 1912. Blanche, along with her mother and father had left in June to spend the summer ''abroad'' on the Continent. In Paris, she contracted typhoid fever and was expected to recover and then she suddenly died. Blanche had also attended Bishop's in Lennoxville as had her father before her. She was enrolled in music studies and her particular area of expertise was the violin. The Dominion College of Music had become affiliated with Bishop's in 1895 so Blanche was able to take advantage of very good musical training. In 1911 she had received the gold medal from the Dominion College of Music in Toronto for the violin. She also received a certificate of perfection in harmony. These two awards were the two highest honours which could be received in Canada for the violin. According to the Observer, ''She possessed exceptional musical ability, and was a most promising young violinist, having appeared before large audiences on several occasions, and was a member of the Sherbrooke symphony orchestra.'' Spiritualism Eugene and Alice would never get over the death of their daughter and turned to Spiritualism in the hopes of continuing contact with her. Eugene Baldwin stated in his biography found in the book, ''Men of Today in the Eastern Townships'', that he was a Spiritualist. He actually was a member in the community of the Modern Spiritualist Movement located in Lily Dale in Chatauqua, New York. This movement did believe in God but not in the human form. Part of their belief system was that the physical body would die but the body spirit or soul would go to another plane in the universe or spirit world. These spirits would have the ability to communicate with the living by way of seances (using the crystal ball) or through mediums and other manner of paranormal devices. This type of religion was perfect idealogy for Eugene Baldwin and his wife who were obviously coping very badly following the death of Blanche. Baldwin's declining years would be spent in this community participating in various paranormal events or sessions and studying other ways of contacting the afterlife. He was especially interested in the study of radio waves. The point that he wanted to emphasize was the combination of two radio frequencies, slightly differing in vibration, which produced a low frequency and a longer wave length. Once this point was reached, would a person be able to hear the spirit voices of their loved ones? Lily Dale noted in their ''death'' notice: ''Lily Dale Spiritualist Passes On''. Two days later he was interred in Mt. Forest Cemetery, Coaticook, Quebec. Ozro Baldwin Where did Eugene Baldwin get the money to build the Long Barn? The simple answer to this question is that he inherited the money from his father. Ozro O. Baldwin had been a store owner, co-owned a grist mill and was the proprietor of two sawmills as well as being a lumber merchant in Dixville. He had also been known as a noted political figure in the old Stanstead County. Ozro Baldwin had served as the mayor of Dixville from 1873 to 1878 and of Barford from 1885 to 1893. He represented Stanstead in the Legislative Assembly of Quebec from 1886 to 1890. In 1904, after the death of his wife the previous year, the family moved to Coaticook where Ozro would die seven years later in 1911. According to his obituary in the local newspaper, Ozro was considered to have been a very wealthy man and one of the richest men in the Eastern Townships. Eugene Orson Baldwin, his son, would be the sole inheritor of this wealth, and he would go on to lose it all through a progression of bad investment, poor business practice or, through the unscrupulous designs of people trading in on his grief. The Long Barn (Ferme du Plateau de Coaticook) This barn located at 129 rue Morgan and built in 1912 is certainly a marvel to behold. According to Matthew Farfan, the barn measured 280 feet (85.3 meters) and would be later extended to 340 feet (103.6 meters). At the time, it was considered to be the largest barn in the Commonwealth and to maintain one of the largest herds of Jersey cows in Canada. The barn itself, would be composed of many innovative features including sixteen dormer windows (eight on each side), seven cupolas, was made of tin, and was embossed with a highly unusual maple leaf design. Could these maple leaves have signified the fact that Eugene had been born on July 1st, Canada's birthday? He apparently had once been amused at the fact that he had been born exactly one year to the day before Confederation. Baldwin would lose his farm to bankruptcy and in 1940 it was bought by Laureat Lavoie. In 1992, an agricultural school was established here, the Centre d'initiative en agriculture or, CIARC. Then in 1999, the barn was disignated as an historic site by the province of Quebec thus ensuring the heritage value of the building and in promoting its preservation for future generations. Conclusion Thus ends this story of Eugene Baldwin. For more information about the Ferme du Plateau, there are several very interesting sites on-line which may be referred to. But, was he really this eccentric person who has come to be portrayed as such? After going through much material about Eugene Baldwin, it would seem to me that he would not be too out of step in today's society. Granted, he and his wife were certainly in need of grievance therapy. It is also quite possible that Eugene Orson Baldwin was simply...a man before his time. Susan Beaton Sources: Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection, Ancestry on-line; Men of Today in the Eastern Townships, V.E. Morrill, Erastus G. Pierce, Sherbrooke Record Company, Publishers, 1917, pg. 96; Historic Places.ca, Grange de la Ferme du Plateau de Coaticook; Histoire de Coaticook (1818-1976), Roch Dandenault, Editions Sherbrooke, 1976, pg. 195; Obits on Ozro Baldwin, Blanche Baldwin, unknown newspaper clippings, E. Cushing; Lily Dale information, P. Beaton, Toronto; Archives of the New York Times on-line, Ingenious Arrangement by a Canadian Electician; Federal Secessional papers on-line for 1912; produits de la ferme.com/ciarc; Townships Heritage WebMagazine, Townships Oddities and Extremes, Matthew Farfan, Eugene Baldwin's Long Barn.

Construction de la Grange du Plateau

 

 

Grange du Plaeau

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