Barn-raising restores Trot in Time carriage house

by Keith Corcoran

A new carriage house nears completion and support continues pouring in for a well-known local horse drawn carriage company now looking to replace two wagons lost in this summer's devastating fire.

Three sides of the new single story seven-by-six metre barn off Old Blue Rocks Road need clapboard, four windows have to be installed, as does a garage door and two pieces of metal on the roof.

Trot in Time Buggy Rides operator Basil Oickle estimates four more days of work is necessary to get the new barn weather tight.

The effort was made possible thanks to volunteers who pitched in to work on the project in late October, including an old-fashioned barn-raising event that attracted about 50 people.

Businesses also responded in earnest.

A Blockhouse building supply company donated steel doors. A Cookville company donated windows. A firm out of Queens County discounted $1,000 off a purchase of trusses. Another building supply company in Wileville offered up a garage door for free. There was also a donation of electrical supplies valued at $2,000.

The kindness is not lost on Oickle.

"I still get overwhelmed when I think about it, I guess," Oickle told LighthouseNOW. "It's just unbelievable, it just brings tears to my eyes."

The carriage barn caught fire August 31 and the blaze consumed a pair of wagons, shoeing tools and thousands of dollars worth of other gear key to Trot in Time, a business Oickle has had since 1996. An original wagon dating back to 1888 was among the losses.

The cause of the fire was deemed accidental. Oickle had been welding and left the barn to greet visiting family. He sustained a small burn to his hand and to the top of his head as he tried in vain to save one of the wagons from the fast-moving blaze. There was no insurance on the barn. Oickle said he couldn't afford it.

The barn is being rebuilt on the same cement slab.

One of his surviving carriages will be bound for Ontario where Oickle said the expertise is for that re-build. He estimates two new carriages will cost a combined total of $15,000 to $20,000, but he hopes for one for now.

Oickle's figures he's spent "more than I got" to the tune of $10,000 out-of-pocket toward the recovery, but a GoFundMe campaign and other aid has gone to great lengths to offset that.

A silent auction and live music fundraiser November 24 at the Lunenburg fire station will bolster the ongoing efforts. Admission to the afternoon event is by good-will offering.

And what about insuring the new carriage house? "That's the hope," Oickle said. "We'll probably get some insurance" at some point, he added.

Oickle, 61, had an arrangement some time ago to sell Trot in Time, but complications arose on the buyer's end, he said, causing the deal to fall through.

The business remains for sale.

"Who knows," Oickle suggested, "maybe the good Lord will find somebody that will want to buy this little business and continue it along as long as I have, and love it and appreciate it as much as the people do for another 24 years."

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