Oliver Barn


Built in 1930, the Oliver Barn was an example of a rare Gothic arch-roofed barn. The specialized and sophisticated roof structure was built of an unusual laminated truss system, which eliminated the need for internal supports on the top floor and gave it this characteristic shape. The Oliver Barn was one of the few true arch-roofed barns built in the Lower Mainland. It was also a notably tall structure and a landmark in the area.

The Oliver Barn was associated with the historic Oliver family. ‘Honest’ John Oliver was an early Delta pioneer of the Mud Bay area and British Columbia politician, serving in the provincial legislature for many years before becoming Premier in 1918 until his death in 1927. His son, John Oliver Junior (known as 'Jack'), purchased this property adjacent to his father's property in 1920. His farm was never very successful, but he was known for his eccentric and progressive ideas, such as his radical design of this barn. Jack Oliver designed the barn himself, and built it in his spare time with the help of a hired labourer. A sawmill was set up on the farm to cut the lumber for this structure.

The Oliver Barn was part of the early growth of farming in the Mud Bay area, a component of Delta's historic agricultural development. The municipality eventually acquired the land known as John Oliver Park, including the barn. As with many of Delta’s older agricultural buildings, the Oliver Barn was lost. It was dismantled in the early 2000’s with the original intention of re-assembling it for a new use associated with the park. Given the technical challenges and expense associated with reconstruction, it was never re-built.

Character defining elements:

  • Nail-laminated bent lumber arched ribs
  • Mortise-and-tenon heavy timber construction
  • Gothic arch roof, with a slight point at the peak and a slight bellcast flare at the eaves
  • Open-span upper floor hay loft space, without interior
  • Vertical board-and-batten plank cladding supports

Added to Municipal Register: March 9, 1999
Submitted to National Register: 2005
Designated: January 25, 2000 BL 5785
Last Reviewed: Donald Luxton and Associates, 2005