The Peterborough Farm

One hundred acres. Ah yes, remember. Pull out the mental images of the early 1960’s. Interesting, those images from childhood are still fresh. I can see the gravel laneway, diving the farm, leading from the barn straight back to the 7 acre sugar bush. On the west, there were 4 fields and the east side, 5.  The fencing was a mixture of wire on wood posts and split cedar rail. Apple, hawthorn, cedars and other wild bushes filled the fence lines in the “back 40”. The sugar bush was full of maples which my grandfather tapped in his early farm years. I recall a dilapidated cedar plank shack, tucked into those woods.

North Monaghan Township in Peterborough County was surveyed originally in 1817. Blocks of 1000 acres were measured, into 10, 100 acre lots, the size deemed appropriate for a successful family farm in the horse-powered days. A 100 acre farm was 20 chains wide by 50 chains long. (A chain is 66 feet.) Concession roads were built between every back to back farm, at 1.25 mile intervals, giving each farm road access. Thanks to Google maps and satellite views, I can measure the position of the barn, house and other buildings as they are still standing today. The farm exists on Lansdowne Street West, Peterborough, its fences removed, but from the satellite view you can still see the sugar bush and laneway. The City of Peterborough continues to move west, and today is literally right at the farm gate.

The current barn on the Preston farm was built by my grandfather with a contracting crew, in the midst of the Great Depression; the summer of 1932. Other farm buildings included a machinery shed, a milk house and chicken house. Attached to the house was a driving / wood shed, providing space for a car and winter firewood. The farm layout is below.

Preston Farm 1965 A


It was always a mixed operation, with dairy cattle, egg laying chickens in the early years and some cash crops; wheat and oats.

New barn 1932 A

Here is the new barn in 1932: A simple L shape with high mows for hay and straw storage and stable places for cows and horses. (more later).

A farmer is proud of his or her work. Growing food. Stewarding the land. Hard work of sweat, aching muscles, of gains and losses that one hopes will result in good quality and good yields. My grandfather was proud. He exhibited a quiet pride of accomplishment from his farm business, with a decent but small Holstein herd, good productive land, and a good family. The work was of his hands, his mind and his heart.

One thought on “The Peterborough Farm”

  1. Really neat family history. I can certainly relate to the 100 acre parcels. Didn’t hear the term chains with respect to measurement before!! Interesting. I look forward to reading more!!

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