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Livery Feed & Sale

Livery Feed & Sale

This building is a replica of an old style livery barn which was built by the museum staff in 1973. Liveries were utilitarian businesses and so were usually simple buildings, sometimes with doors at either end, sometimes not, but usually with rows of windows down either side of the livery for light and ventilation. Photos of liveries in Pioneer Manitoba seem to suggest they were usually single story buildings with no loft for forage storage. Given these buildings were located in towns and the owners may or may not have owned hay fields, liveries purchased forage as needed from locals and had it delivered on a regular basis.

The livery stable was the pioneer counterpart of our modern service station and rental car outlet. The presence of a livery was a symbol of prestige in every pioneer community. (In fact, it was just an unwritten rule that every pioneer town of any distinction just had to have a livery stable!) Therefore, in the 1880s the term “one horse town” filtered into our language meaning a town that didn’t have an adequate population of either horses or humans to justify a livery and didn’t have much to offer.

The livery stable was a place where horses were kept for hire and where space was rented for the temporary keep of horses. A farmer, in town for the afternoon especially in the winter months, would rent a space for the shelter and feeding of his team. Salesmen for machinery companies and other people doing business in the local area would travel by train but once they arrived, they would need to rent a horse and perhaps a buckboard in order to visit the local businesses and farmers.

The livery stable would have horses, wagons and backboards for rent. The manager would trim the horse hooves, groom and feed the horses, as well as making minor repairs on the wagons or harnesses. He would often trade his services for a supply or oats or hay.

The double stalls have built-in oat boxes, the back stall being used to store hay as there is no hay loft. Near the front doors are two small rooms. One is the office where the records of payment and also owners’ instructions as to the care of their horses are kept. A small wood stove warms this room and foot warmers for their use in buggies and sleighs are on hand, these being filled with warm coal before departure.

Opposite the office is a storeroom where the oat box is kept – oats were so expensive so the operator wanted it where he could keep an eye on it. In this room the necessary ointments and other medicinal supplies are kept for any care not requiring a veterinarian’s attention. A two-seater buggy has been left with the manager to care for the day, as well as a couple of saddles.

In Pioneer Manitoba towns, townspeople could board their horses at the livery or simply rent one there when needed. However it was common for houses to have a small barn associated with the house in order to house the home owner’s horse and perhaps milk cow and chickens. In the pre-vehicle age, horses were in common use in order to move around in the local area. While one may have lived in town, one could still have a need to travel in the local area. Horses and pioneer roads posed enough issues, that longer journeys were undertaken by train where possible.

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