the agritect

@VELD architect, southwestern Ontario

Archive for Agritourism

Rural Revitalization Idea #1 -tobacco kiln B&B




As many of you probably don’t notice anymore, smoking in bars, entrances, and other places has mostly disappeared from Ontario. All you have to do is go to Europe and you will appreciate the smoke-free environments we enjoy in Canada. However, this industry shift took a very hard toll on Tobacco farmers in Ontario. In many places, these Tobacco farmers have gotten quite ingenious with the old kilns, good soils, etc. and have gone into niche markets. But many farms lay with abandoned tobacco kilns sitting empty waiting for a use! Well I have got one… Wouldn’t it be cool to renovate a farm with a few kilns and turn it into a B&B or hotel! Or even a campground! Image a landscape full of kilns all mini cottages with long-term cottagers and your weekenders! Each kiln could probably hold a small family, with a great loft bedroom! Each kiln could have a semi private porch, skylights, views of the rural landscape. Each kiln nestled between rows of vegetables and decorative plants. Each morning you could get up at the crack of dawn to help the farmer, relax in a hammock all day, or go on a day trip exploring the rural landscape.



I was told once that the more you share your ideas the more they come back to you. So this is part of a series called Rural Revitalization Ideas where I throw my ideas out to the universe and hope they come back to me! The series will focus on projects in rural Ontario(or anywhere) that I think (and hopefully others will too) would be cool places to add to Ontario’s rural tourism, culture, and atmosphere. Feel free to add and suggest your own or contact me if you want to pursue one of my out-of-the-box ideas!


Rural Relics – A Foundation for Possibilities

I was recently introduced to a bit of Waterloo Region's history. Black Horse Corners, a once bustling small town with an Inn, tannery, fueling mill, pump shop, shingle mill, shoemaker and blacksmith shop, all of which are not longer present except for some remains of the old Inn which burnt down.  Located at the corner of Northhumberland Rd. (58) and Cedar Creek Rd. just east of Cambridge is Black horse Corner and you’ll miss it if you’re not paying attention to the small yellow sign at the intersection.  The Inn used to sit at the north-east corner and the ruins of the walls are just a few feet down from the field surface. The inn was built approximately around 1859, it had a horse stable and outhouse. Jeff Stager, the owner of the farm says that the Inn is only a few feet down and he could easily expose the ruins for curious visitors to explore.

But we cannot forget the cheese factory which still stands near the corner on the farm of Jeff Stager. It has been restored,  along with a smoke house, and designated as a heritage structure. When Jeff took me on a tour of the cheese factory it was a cold windy day.  As we walked into the cheese factory it was warm and cozy and the view across the yellow corn field to the inn was perfect! So perfect I felt that the windows should have a see-through film with and artist rendering on what the small town would have looked liked in its hay-day!

View towards the Inn site

Black Horse Corner it Jeff’s little secret and he wants to share it! There is a great piece of history just waiting to be explored by everyone. Jeff and I spoke about many possibilities for the site including; B&B, cabin rental, a new artisan cheese maker, a cheese store, an artist studio.  We also thought a path along the creek on his farm would lead you right from the cheese factory door to the ruins of the inn, you could even make a corn maze out of it! If you have idea for adaptive reuse, renting the space, or an agritoruism/history project, want to be involved with the abandoned town, leave a comment here.