We lost but we won!

On Saturday, October 8 in the afternoon, the 112-year-old barn at ClearWater at the Reed Farm burned to the ground. The tragic accident was caused by kids playing on the property without permission.


No one was hurt. And since adversity can give rise to opportunity, we entered the national Aviva Community Challenge to win $100,000 to start rebuilding the barn as a community treasure, designed by kids and built with their help.

Over 2,000 community members and friends voted – an amazing 35,000 votes in all. Sadly, this turned out not to be quite enough to win, but it was a heartfelt rally of support, and many people also stepped forward to offer help when needed.

All of this has strengthened our resolve to continue. The next thing you can do is to help us find all of our friends. If we know who our supporters are, we can keep everyone informed as we progress.

“We are inspired by old-fashioned barn-raising principles.

Old barns inherently symbolize the power of community to
collaborate by bringing people of different ages and abilities together.”

— Annabel Slaight, founding chair of the Ontario Water Centre

Rebirth of the Barn

What’s next? We hope that the Town of Georgina’s insurance will provide base funding to go forward but while waiting to hear, we have already held two Saturday “camps” at the farm to gather kids’ ideas.


Youth participation in raising the barn is our model for developing community “ownership” of the entire 180-year-old ClearWater Farm. The rebuilt barn has exciting potential as a multi-functional place for events and programming, a touchstone for school groups and camp activities for kids, and a gathering space that will bring joy to the community.

Translating dreams into design


On Saturday November 26, a hundred people gathered at the Georgina Art Centre and Gallery in Sutton to hear kids’ ideas about the ClearWater Barn artfully expressed in barn-shaped memory boxes.


Panelists were (l to r)  Greer Atkinson, Chippewas of Georgina Island; Crystal Bossio, Willowbank School of Restoration Arts; Georgina Mayor Margaret Quirk; Madison Hamblin, Prince’s Charities of Canada;  Ewa Chwojko-Srawley, Georgina Art Gallery. 

Here’s a preview of what the kids had to say.

“This was the best day ever!”

“I think the barn should become a community centre  to help bring people together”

For more about the Clearwater Farm, please click here.