Have you ever been driving down the highway and see the old farm buildings that are in the process of decaying and falling down? I would see them all the time when I was trucking, which I hope to resume once I recover. Some of these buildings are far off the highway, but with my job of picking up and delivering grain, I often passed right by them. Old school houses, churches, barns and other out buildings, and houses, that have obviously seen better days. I think of the voices that have been inside them years ago, and the memories that the people that occupied them may have had.
These buildings, especially the ones that people lived in, or schooled in, or praised God in, were vital to the lives of those people. I often look at the buildings and think “if those walls could talk, what would they say?” Generations of people have lived, worshipped and worked in these buildings and left a little of themselves behind. Life was different then and many of these people rarely travelled far from their homesteads. Even my wife, born in a rural area of Manitoba hadn’t really travelled far from her home until she moved to Brandon, MB to attend university.
For myself, who had my younger years in Manchester, England before moving to Manitoba at the age of 8, I find it fascinating that people stayed so close to home. In 1990, about four years into our marriage, I took my family to the Rocky Mountains in Canada. It was the first major vacation my wife had taken in many years, and was the first vacation she’d taken that didn’t involve a visit with family. Because we had a different upbringing, I had been fortunate enough to have been on many vacations with my parents, including a number of visits to the Rockies, previously. In fact I’ve been fortunate to have visited every province in Canada, except for Newfoundland & Labrador! My wife’s previous travel had always been to visit family members who she had only seen rarely and didn’t involve any real fun activities for the youngsters. I’d been on trips like that also occasionally and always found it boring.
But lets get back to these old buildings and the mysteries that they hold. As you walk inside these treasure troves, your senses are immediately attacked with the musty smell of dampness. For me its a unique odour that brings me back to my childhood where I’d explored these types of buildings then. When I was younger I didn’t grasp the significance of what I was seeing, instead I’d usually just be exploring or finding a place to hide during a game of hide and seek. But as you get older, in some of these buildings you can see a little bit of people’s lives.
A few yellowed photographs, children’s drawings, and sometimes even furniture that holds something really special. As I got older though, I also realized that there was danger all around me, as these places succumbed to nature they hold hidden dangers like weak floors that could result in a fall to a flooded basement. So now I just enjoy them from a distance as I drive by them.
Our ancestors built these places and they now stand as a legacy to their lives. Without the brave forefathers who opened up these areas and prepared the land, our lives would be significantly different. We should look at all these buildings and thank those who came before us.