Claudia Smith has been collecting rural history in Lanark County since the early-1980s — gathering local oral history and photographing countryside artifacts, rural relics and barns of times past. Over the years farming families shared their horse stories, photograph albums and ancestors’ farm diaries. With her deft flair for detail, Claudia’s most recent book pays homage to the strong, hard-working horses – the partners, the rascals, the friends.
Farm horses have always fascinated Claudia. Her young years were perched at the tail-end of the horse and buggy days in 1950s rural Quebec. During haying season, an elderly farming neighbour would hand her the long, leather reins of his big farm team and she delighted in driving those horses around the field as the windrows of hay whispered up the hay loader and he forked it into sections on the wagon.
As a teenager exploring fields and forest paths on her French Canadian mare, she exulted in the ponderous grace of two heavy-maned, black Percherons who tossed their heads and broke into a floating, extended trot as she trotted past their pasture.
Claudia gathering local history
For more than 35 years, Claudia has documented the colour of rural life in over 180 articles published in The Lanark Era and in her acclaimed books that include:
When the Sugar Bird Sings ~ A History of Maple Syrup in Lanark County
Gypsies, Preachers and Big White Bears ~ One Hundred Years on Country Roads
Follow the Smoke ~ The History of Firefighting in Lanark Township
Country School Days 1830s-1960s
By Word of Mouth ~ Stories of Northern Lanark County, Volume 1
Barns ~ A Reflection of Changing Times
By Word of Mouth ~ Snow Drifts and Sleigh Bells, Volume 2
Comments from My Readers
- “I was impressed by the quality of the text; the content was interesting as well as accurate with a nice human touch.”
- “In complete honesty, I have learned more from your barn book than all my other gleanings.”
- “This book celebrates the old barns of Lanark County and is a good read and a long overdue treasure of information.”
- “There is no baloney in this book That’s how it was.”