Saskatchewan winter storm brings down iconic, 113-year-old round barn

An iconic barn built in Drinkwater, Saskatchewan in 1907 is going to come down after suffering severe damage in this week's wild winter storm. Connor O'Donovan / Global News

It stood strong for more than a century, but a Saskatchewan landmark is set to finally come down after suffering the wrath of this week’s winter storm.

While no longer operational, the barn had become a hotspot for photographers and has been immortalized in calendars, paintings and more. Connor O'Donovan / Global News

The Sanborn round barn in Drinkwater, Sask., partially collapsed during the severe weather event Wednesday. Its owners say that while it will be tough to let it go, the barn now popular with tourists, photographers, nostalgia-lovers and more will have to be taken down.

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“We think it went down at around three in the morning. I think a plow wind just hit it in the right direction,” said Allison Sanborn, a fifth-generation member of the family farm.

“I was sobbing all morning. It’s a hard one to say goodbye to. But it’s a safety hazard now.”

Read more: Winter storm wreaks havoc throughout southern Saskatchewan

The barn was built in 1907 by Charles Dixon Sanborn, who travelled from Iowa to make the Drinkwater area his home, according to his great-great-granddaughter.

It was originally designed to encourage the wind to travel around the structure, and housed cattle and horses for decades.

Allison Sanborn says that the design is less functional when used with modern-day farming equipment, but that it was still used to house livestock when she was young.

“We had a three-storey farmhouse, but we spent all day, every day out in that barn,” said Sanborn, whose farm now specializes in grains. “We played and hung out in the hayloft, fed all the animals, and played bale tag.”

Read more: Regina man lends a hand as snowstorm leaves trail of damage in its wake

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While originally designed to offer protection from the wind, the barn’s round shape also holds some advantages for the superstitious – spirits won’t find any corners to hide in or behind. Connor O'Donovan / Global News

While the structure itself will come down, Sanborn says the barn will live on.

She says it can be found in the archives of many photographers, and has even been brought to life in watercolour by late-Saskatchewan artists Chesley Andersen.

Read more: The extreme weather conditions in Saskatchewan in 2020

“Everybody knows the round barn in Drinkwater. The Sanborn farm is Drinkwater. It’s a huge tourist site. All summer, people would come in asking to take photos.”

Sanborn said her family will also reclaim as much wood as they can when they take the rest of the barn down to sell and to use in personal projects around the farm.

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“It’ll gently get taken apart and sold off and repurposed,” Sanborn said. “I’ve had lots of text messages saying ‘oh, I’m so sorry’ and ‘it’ll be a hard loss.’ Unfortunately, we just can’t justify rebuilding it.”

Click to play video: 'Regina man lends a hand as snowstorm leaves trail of damage in its wake' Regina man lends a hand as snowstorm leaves trail of damage in its wake
Regina man lends a hand as snowstorm leaves trail of damage in its wake – Jan 14, 2021

Several large structures in Saskatchewan suffered similar fates this week.

One of the steel bins attached to a grain elevator in Pense was flattened, while the other was damaged.

The facility is owned by Viterra Canada Inc, though government information shows the company did not renew its grain elevator license in Pense this past summer. Connor O'Donovan / Global News

Meanwhile, in Milestone, employees showed up to Tarpco Manufacturing Thursday morning to find a garage door had collapsed and an entire wall was missing.

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Tarpco Manufacturing in Milestone, Sask. following Wednesday night’s wind storm. Derek Putz / Global Regina

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