117 Ruch Street, Coplay, Pennsylvania 18037
Alex MacPherson, a good mechanic, and John MacDonald, a bookkeeper from the firm of Glasgow, MacPherson and Company, of Clinton, Ontario, Canada, made the decision to start a threshing machine business of their own and picked Stratford, Ontario, for the location of their new business venture.
Not having enough capital to complete their factory, they appealed to John P. MacDonald's brother James to sell his farm and go into partnership with them. The firm, known as MacDonald & MacPherson Company, built and sold without difficulty the thirty threshers they planned for in the year 1877 and the success of their machines from the start assured increasing sales and good prosperity for the company. These threshers were of the conventional apron or canvas type side shake shoe. Then about the year 1880 an end shake shoe was adopted and four years later they placed it on the market. This was the first of their deck type separators.
Alex MacPherson had a short life span and after his passing the two MacDonald Brothers carried on the business as the MacDonald Manufacturing Company. Young Peter MacDonald attended school in Stratford, Ontario, for two years then started working for the Grand Trunk Railway Shops as an apprentice machinist. Plus learning his trade, Peter's work on railroad locomotives developed a deep and lasting interest in steam engines. A few years later he and his brother John K. MacDonald joined their father and uncle in the threshing machine business where Peter's training and interest was directed toward the mechanical end while his brother just as naturally favoured working with wood.
In the early 1880's John P. Mac-Donald's failing health and other interests resulted in his leaving the business leaving James and his two sons to carry on the business. James MacDonald was called by the Lord in December 1911. Born in Scotland, he was only a few months old when his family sailed the Atlantic Ocean to Nova Scotia, Canada in the year of 1831. John P. MacDonald was the first child born during the fourteen years the MacDonald family remained in Nova Scotia before moving on to the vicinity of Bruce-field in what is now the province of Ontario. After the Lord called James MacDonald the firm was reorganized as the MacDonald Thresher Company Limited and a modern factory was built at the Eastern outskirts of Stratford to take care of their increasing production.
MacDonald 20 Hp steam traction engine built in 1908 by the MacDonald Thresher Company, LTD, Stratford, Ontario, Canada, and owned by allan Crone, Ontario, Canada.
Photo taken at the Ontario Steam & Antique Preservers Association Show at Milton, Ontario, Canada by Jack Norbeck, author of the Encyclopedia of American Steam Traction Engines and included in the third revised edition. See article about the Mac Donald firm in this issue. Allan Crone's MacDonald engine is featured.
The increased demand for traction engines finally persuaded the firm to begin their production and in 1905 arrangements were made with the A. D. Baker Company of Swantion, Ohio, to manufacture the well known 'Baker' steam traction engines in Canada.
The first of these steam traction engines were classified as 18 HP size and were built the next year. The 20 and 22 HP sizes followed and in 1914 a special 25 HP engine was developed to meet the demand for greater HP for Western Provinces of Canada.
Early 'Decker' steam traction engines were built the same as the 1906 models of A. D. Baker engines. In 1913 the first piston valve engines were manufactured.
The Lord called Peter MacDonald on November 22, 1950. Peter was one of the old school of steam lovers who never could reconcile himself to the great gas age.
He was a great admirer of the Walschart valve gear as used on steam locomotives and in his spare time in later years constructed a reverse gear of this type for use on steam traction engines. Unfortunately, the fate of the steam traction engine had been sealed and his valve gear never had a trial.