Text by P. Gerbrandt

It’s pretty hard to beat a barn raising when it comes to the efficiency of traditional barn construction, but canvas and laminate rafters for “bio-tech” shelters offer an alternative that can be put up in just a couple of days.

In one case, a customer and his helper were able to get a canvas-covered structure up in just one day. Ease of erecting these durable storage facilities is probably the biggest factor in their favour. The canvas shelters provide storage for farm machinery and hay, or offer shelter for recreational vehicles of all kinds. A “bio-tech” shelter can also serve as an uninsulated garage.

Heavy-duty canvas, available in a variety of colours, is amazingly strong and stands up well to Manitoba’s varying weather conditions. The canvas withstands wind, heat and cold, and snow and rain slide right off. Reasonable care should be taken not to put undue stress on the canvas, and to avoid puncturing or slashing it. Under normal conditions, and with a minimum of maintenance, these canvas structures can serve for years.

The hidden strength of these buildings is in the carefully crafted laminated arch rafters. Once the 3/4” segments are laminated, they are put into a jig and formed into the desired shape. At first, the rafters were made primarily for barns and Quonsets but now these rafters form the skeleton for the increasingly popular canvas structures.

The spans for canvas shelters range from 20 to 46 feet wide. The length of the shelters is determined only by the customer’s needs or budget constraints. The cost of these canvas shelters may be considerable less than that of a storage shelter made with conventional materials. Standard 12 oz. tarpaulin canvas, are available in white, red, black, green and blue.

To prepare the site for the canvas structures, 6” x 6” posts are sunk into the ground, extending 4’ above the surface. The rafters are fastened to the posts. A few weeks after the canvas is put in place, it may need to be tightened.

As temporary shelters go, they provide excellent value. There’s still time to put up a shelter for your boat, RV, or for the hay bales or machinery that need to be protected from snow, rain, wind and sun. It’s hard to top the benefits of a canvas shelter.

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