South Peace Centennial Museum PO Box 493 Beaverlodge, Alberta Canada TOH 0C0
Pioneer Day was once again a huge success but the days and weeks leading up to the event certainly had organizers' nerves on edge. There seemed to be a heavy rain shower every day and everyone began to wonder how the parking lot would hold the traffic from sinking into the mud. However as it turned out, the last rain was on Wednesday so the grounds and parking lot were dry and in great shape. Pioneer Day was Sunday and luckily all the tractors were back in their display buildings as the rains resumed Monday night.
This year we started off with a pancake supper Saturday night and again Sunday with a breakfast. These were well attended and greatly enjoyed. Great cooks! Our Pioneer Day is only on Sunday but it has almost turned into a Saturday/Sunday show as many people begin arriving Friday and Saturday so they get to see all the final preparations and operation of tractors and steamers on Saturday. This is fine with us and all are welcome.
Our 29th annual show featured all the usual events: tractor parade, shingle sawing, sawmill, steam threshing, gas and hand fed threshing, planing and demonstrations of the log plane. The log plane is a very popular event as very few of these planes were used. All the events went without a flaw and managed to keep right on schedule. Some of the new additions to the show this year include a Minneapolis Moline Model U diesel tractor which ran the shingle mill all day. A 1952 John Deere model AR was just restored and operated the Dion threshing machine. A Case 15-27 (1919) cross motor was restored during the winter months and proudly showed its new paint as it ambled down the parade route. One of the best and certainly most entertaining models we have ever seen arrived on Saturday. It is a superb model of a J.D. model D and an International threshing machine. The tractor is remote controlled and the operator can control the throttle, steering, clutch and also make the lifelike driver wave his hand. People could not believe it as the little tractor drove past and the driver would wave to them. The owner also did some threshing with the unit later in the day.
Another machine event was the dynamometer, which Ed Carlson had repaired so it can be used with either a belt drive or P.T.O. This was a fun event, a crowd pleaser and good test for the tractors. We used the Cat D-4 and the 30 HP Waterloo steamers as examples on the dyno. The horse section of the museum also had new exhibits the miniature donkeys and horses. Did the adults and children ever enjoy them! The draft horses did a booming business in providing wagon rides all afternoon. This was the first opportunity our steam engineer class had to experience operating the traction engines in public. They were under the watchful eyes of engineers and they did a great job in the safe handling of the engines. All candidates really enjoyed the chance to participate in Pioneer Day and I'm certain we will get several competent engineers within another year.
The crowd was excellent again this year, and we noticed how far many traveled to attend the show. They came from Victoria, Chiliwack, Prince George, Williams Lake, Southern and Northern Alberta, Saskatchewan, and many from the United States. That's one advantage of living on the Alaskan Highway.
The ladies were very busy as well. The museum has 11 buildings which all have to be supervised and have events in them. A major fun event was the fashion show which was done at the bandstand. Many of the area's colorful pioneers were acted out by a great group of ladies from Beaverlodge. The past really came to life with some of these actors. Circlebank Hall was full of crafts, some of the craft people coming from Southern British Columbia. Of course the concession booth, workers booth and the barbeque booth were very busy and these organizers deserve a huge credit for feeding so many people.
Early morning steam-up In July 1995. Left to right: 1912 25-75 HP Garr Scott; 1911 25-75 HP Case; 1914 30 HP Waterloo pulling a 36-60 Red River Special; 1914 82 HP Sawyer Massey.
A special attraction this year was our blacksmith who traveled all the way from Victoria, British Columbia. Skip, and his daughter Debbie, brought with them a special personality in relating to and answering questions from the public. He had many fine examples of his craft for sale, and made many more as the people crowded around to watch. Blacksmithing is a craft which certainly is attracting a lot of attention.
This 1996 year is our 30th anniversary. Plans are under way to make it special and different. Mark your calendar now for the third Sunday in July. You won't be disappointed.
'This is my 1913 Sawyer-Massey steam engine putting on a spark show at the Huron Pioneer Threshers Association in Blyth, Ontario, in September 1995,' says Harley Searson, 239 Oslo Crescent, Sarnia, Ontario N7S 4J3. Harley's father George Sear-son bought this engine in 1928. He was one of the founders of the Western Ontario Steam Threshers Association in 1957. This engine's been putting on spark shows since 1960.