Timber cabin reaches new home

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People were lined up on Catharine St. behind Port Colborne Historical and Marine Museum Tuesday as a more than 200 year old timber cabin, and its roof, moved past on the backs of two different transport trucks.
The timber cabin made the 13 kilometre trip from Miller Rd., near White Rd., to the museum, on King St., about a month after it was first scheduled, said Brian Heaslip, building and property chairman for the museum’s board of management.
“We were ready to move last month, but we had to wait for the (St. Lawrence) Seaway to finish with bridge work and they were delayed,” said Heaslip.
Bridge 21, the Clarence St. Bridge, was the main route for the cabin to be brought over the canal, escorted by Niagara Regional Police, he said.
The timber cabin being brought to the museum grounds, which features a number of heritage buildings, came about after the museum and museum board did a review last year of a five-year forecast.
“We identified that we needed an additional building, and last May we started to look around and found a suitable one (the timber cabin).”
Heaslip said the owner of the timber cabin wanted it moved to make way for a new home on his Miller Rd. property. It had been moved to the front of the property, waiting for the move to the museum grounds.
An architectural historian examined the building and was able to date it to at least as far back as 1803, much earlier than first estimated by the museum.
The land on which the timber cabin was built was owned at one time by Leonard Gise.
Records the museum was able to obtain from an 1850 land transfer show there was a building on the property.
But, Heaslip said a building had to be on the property even earlier that, at least by 1803 to solidify a land grant.
“We have to do a little more work to make sure the building we have was the same building located there in 1803.”
If the building does pre-date 1803, then work done to refurbish it will be reflective of the that time period, said Heaslip.
“That will take some time and research … it’s not something you can go and just contract out.”
Heaslip envisions the project taking at least a few years and suggested opening it in time for Canada’s 150th anniversary as a nation, in 2017, would be very fitting.
Once the log cabin is open to the public, it will part of the museum’s school programming and be home to the museum’s Graf Loom, once operated by weavers Edward and Albert Graf.
The Grafs came to Canada, via Buffalo, and lived in Gasline, which was part of Humberstone Township at the time. Edward, who learned to weave in Jordan, purchased the former Gasline school, itself a timber cabin structure, and set up his shop.
The Grafs were known for their excellent weaving of Jacquard Coverlets, woven rugs and blankets.
Heaslip said the timber cabin was moved now so the heavy equipment could move on the frozen museum grounds without damaging the grass there and at the park beside it.
Helping in the move were a group of volunteers, Edgewater Crane Rentals Ltd., of Port Colborne, and Contour Transport Systems Inc., of Grimsby.

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