Ontario Agricultural Museum Displays a Sawyer-Massey 76 HP Steam Traction Engine

Sawyer-Massey steam traction engine sat unused at Bobcaygeon until 1953.

Steam traction engine

Jack C. Norbeck

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Norbeck Research, 117RuchSt. Coplay, PA 18037

Ontario's rural history and the importance of agriculture are recalled at the Ontario Agricultural Museum. The eight acre site features a series of historic farmsteads, a crossroads community and a variety of display buildings. The museum has one of the largest collections of agricultural machinery in Canada. Exhibits of Massey-Harris, International Harvester, Ford, and John Deere machines depict the influence of these large companies on the agriculture industry.

Other exhibits feature the variety of implements made by Ontario manufacturers. The 'Steam on the Farm' exhibit was opened in 1990, and traces the history of steam power on Ontario farms. Twelve portable and traction steam engines are displayed.

Sawyer-Massey 76 HP steam traction engine, built in 1920 by the Sawyer-Massey Co., of Hamilton, Ontario, is owned by the Ontario Department of Food & Agriculture, Ontario, Canada. When not at steam shows it is on display at the Ontario Agricultural Museum in Milton.

Photo was taken by Jack C. Norbeck, author of Encyclopedia of American Steam Traction Engines.

Every July, the museum holds the Great Canadian Antique Tractor Field Days, a steam, tractor, engine, and implement show for machines made by Canadian firms. In 1991, the event will take place on July 20-21. Other events are scheduled through the museum's season.

The museum is open from mid-May to September, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is located in Milton, Ontario, just off Highway 401. The museum is a project of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

The Sawyer-Massey steam traction engine #4191 on the cover was purchased new by the Ontario Department of Public Highways in 1920 to crush stone for highway work. It was sold after several years to a man in the Lindsay, Ontario area. He also used it to crush rock. It was then sold to Mr. George Ports of Bobcaygeon, Ont., who used it to power a sawmill until 1950.

The engine sat unused at Bobcaygeon until 1953, when it was purchased by Mr. Garnet Pattenden of Rutherglen, Ontario. Here it was used to power another sawmill, until the mill burned in January of 1956. The mill was destroyed and the engine was damaged: the babbitt melted out of the bearings and the governor was ruined.

Mr. Pattenden was going to rebuild it for use in a new mill, but instead he purchased a mill with a stationary steam engine already installed. The Sawyer then sat until 1959, when it was sold to Mr. Charles Matthews of Langstaff, a collector of large machinery and farm implements.

The engine was restored under Mr. Matthews' ownership. In 1965, the Government of Ontario arranged to purchase Mr. Matthews' collection. The Matthews Collection was the base on which the collections of the Ontario Science Center and the Agricultural Museum are built.

The following is a list of steam engines in the Ontario Agricultural Museum collection.

Sawyer Massey 68 HP steam traction engine owned by David Stirk from Brampton, Ontario. This engine was winner of the Johnson & Holt Trophy for best restored steam traction engine at the Ontario Steam & Antique Preservers Association show at Milton. Photo by Jack Norbeck.

The portables are a Sawyer-Massey 'LDS' return flue, 17 HP, 1895, cosmetic restoration; Waterous 'Champion' upright #48, 14 HP, 1878, cosmetic restoration; Hagget Brothers (Brampton, Ont.), cosmetic restoration; John Abel 'Triumph' 10 HP, 1879, cosmetic restoration; J.I. Case #27092, 30 HP, 1912, operable restoration; George White return flue, 1890, running restoration.

The tractions are a George White rear mount, 20-25 HP, 1913, cosmetic restoration; American-Abel 'Cock o' the North' 14 HP, 1905, cosmetic restoration; J.I. Case rear mount, 30 HP, 1912, unrestored; Robert Bell (Seaforth, Ont.) compound, 25 HP, 1922, cosmetic restoration; Robert Bell, unrestored; Goodison (Sarnia, Ont.), #1905, 20 HP, 1919 unrestored; Waterloo (Waterloo, Ont.), 'Ontario Special', unrestored; Leader (Clinton, Ont.), #283, unrestored; Sawyer-Massey camel back, 1915, unrestored; Waterloo 20-22 HP, 1912, operable restoration; Sawyer-Massey 60 HP, 1923, operable restoration; Sawyer-Massey 76 HP, #4191, 1920, running restoration; and a George White, no clutch, 1895, cosmetic restoration.

Information for this article came from Cliff Jones, acting registrar of the Ontario Agricultural Museum.