Nelson Clarke, the farmer who built The Barn, owned a large land package dating back to the mid-1800s, when a grateful British government granted property to Loyalist settlers after the American Revolution. Nelson's land included a one kilometer long stretch of beautiful beach extending to the Outlet river, made of fine-grained blond sand. Nelson had three cottages along the beach, which he would rent during July and August. The MacLean family got to know the friendly farmer after purchasing their cottage at the edge of Nelson's "Rockaway Beach" in 1956. The children grew up knowing Nelson, "helping" him at The Barn and loving the evening rituals of the hay wagon, milking and watering the cows.
Each evening, Nelson would drive down to the cottages pulling his hay wagon with the red tractor, collecting the day's garbage from his cottagers, and offering a ride to any available children. This was followed by a visit from Nelson's cows, which were brought down to the lake in the evening and morning for watering, still an accepted practice in the fifties and early sixties. It called for some careful walking on that part of the beach!
Nelson would permit visitors to watch or even participate in the daily milking, a chore done in what is now The Barn's lovely guest suites. Looking at the large living space and bedrooms today, it's hard to imagine the sound of cows mooing, children laughing and milk squirting into metal buckets. For many years Nelson and his wife Doris milked the cows by hand. Fresh milk was poured into milk cans like that found inside the doorway of The Milking Parlour suite. An unsuspecting child might get a squirt of milk in the face. Nelson had a good aim!
Nelson sold his Outlet beach waterfront to the Provincial Park authority in the mid-1960s. His property also stretched back to the south shore of the peninsula. After it too was sold, the southern tract and shoreline were transformed into a campground, eventually becoming Quinte's Isle Campground. That is how The Old Dairy Barn became flanked by two well-known campgrounds.
The MacLeans' eldest son eventually bought a piece of the original farm property behind their cottage, building the yellow farmhouse that you can see just west of The Barn - the one with the old lifeboat on the lawn. More recently their youngest son bought The Barn and, with the help of family and friends, completed renovations of the suites for guests.