Collections reflect U.S., British connections

| October 2002

Neil Ford parks five Rumely Oil-Pulls and a Ford Windstar van in the driveway of his Milton, Ontario, bungalow. His entire garage has been temporarily transformed into a paint booth for Rumely number six.

Wayne Fischer of Puslinch, Ontario, houses four steam traction engines in a newly built engine barn that measures some 75 feet by 30 feet, by 20-feet tall; poured concrete walkways run around the engines, each of which rests on its own gravel bed.

Walter Dedman of Cambridge, Ontario, hauls his two antique Ruston-Hornsby engines - a giant 500 hp and its little brother, a 132 hp - on specially constructed tractor trailers. The big one has two rows of eight tires each and is capable of carrying 65 tons; the smaller one hauls the 132-hp engine and accommodates a tiny apartment for Walter in its bow.

These guys aren't kidding when it comes to collecting old iron, and they're just a few of hundreds of collectors in eastern Ontario today. They live north of Lake Ontario and south of the Georgian Bay in an area dominated by farming operations for more than 100 years, but that now is being transformed by urban sprawl. Once plentiful, old iron is less in evidence there today as modern housing developments and commercial malls transform the land. Local collectors say they've begun to feel the need to preserve their treasures for posterity as well as just for the fun.

To help give Farm Collector readers a glimpse into this corner of the collecting world, Sherwood Hume, a Milton-area collector whose story about his restoration of a Hume tractor appeared earlier this year in the magazine, planned a series of private interviews and visits to area tractor shows in August for Farm Collector.

Sherwood focused on half a dozen collectors who live in and around Milton, or just to the west, and two shows, the 35th annual Golden Horseshoe Show at Caledonia and the 37th annual Georgian bay Steam Show in Cookstown, both of which just happened to occur during the visit. In addition, he squeezed in a stop at the Country Heritage Park just west of Milton, which has an extensive tractor collection, and a ride (in the engine, no less) on the South Simcoe Railway steam train at Tottenham. This is reported to be the only steam train still running regularly in Ontario.