107 Years of Family Farm Steam Power


| July/August 1987



Box 271, Hamiota, Manitoba, Canada ROM 0T0.

As fourth generation of family farm steam power, I would like to make a few comments. My grandfather, great grandfather and great uncles were all steam men as well as carpenters by trade. My dad and uncle were die-hard steam men as well as operated a large sawmill operation between 1920 and 1931.

They ran the basic general run of the mill portables and early traction engines between 1880 and 1900. When they migrated from Ireland to Ontario in the early 1800's they worked in carpentry as a trade. They all had some steam experience when they left Ontario for Western Canada in the late 1860's. When leaving Ontario they travelled to Fargo, North Dakota where they took a barge up to Winnipeg on the Red River. Being carpenters by trade, they lived in Winnipeg for a few short years and helped build one of the first wooden bridges over the Red River in Winnipeg. In the late 1870's they came out to Hamiota to lay claim to several quarters of homestead land. In the 1880's and early 1900's they built some pretty impressive buildings, some of which stand today.

As I already mentioned, they farmed with the general run of the mill portables, hand fed threshers, early traction and feeder style threshers from 1880 to 1900. In 1901 my grandfather bought a new 25 HP Case steam engine to use with a Cock O' The North wooden thresher they had been using previously. As my grandfather was a large custom thresherman they wore out this outfit and bought a slightly used 75 HP double simple Reeves and brand new 40 x 60 wood Nichols and Shepard thresher in 1910. In 1917 my grandfather bought a brand new 1914, 80 HP Case steam engine; the last new steam engine to be railed into Hamiota. The old Reeves got relegated to buzzing wood, occasionally grading roads for the R. M., but mainly sat for some time to come.

In 1927 my grandfather bought a new 36 x 60 steel Nichols and Shepard thresher. A first cousin of my grandfather bought the old Reeves and 40 inch wood Nichols and Shepard thresher to handle some of the custom threshing. A few years went by and my grandfather's cousin never paid for the old Reeves and 40 inch wood thresher now worn out. One Sunday afternoon in the summer of 1940 my dad and uncle steamed up the 80 HP Case, drove twelve miles near Decker and towed the old outfit home. The old Reeves was sold to a neighbor who used it for two years to break sod and was then junked in favor of a 60 Cat which I own today.

My dad and uncle operated the threshing outfit from as early as 1912, as that particular year my grandfather got his arm caught in the cylinder pulley of the 40 inch N and S thresher and had it taken off. In 1912, after two years of building, my grandfather just completed a large Ontario bank barn 45 x 90 feet all fitted together with wooden pegs which stands well today. My dad often told the story of my grandfather's never getting any enjoyment out of the huge barn he built for horses because of his arm loss. My dad and uncle ran the 80 HP Case engine on the 36' N and S thresher until 1942 and then of course ran a gas tractor on the 36' until 1947 when the 21 Massey combine took over and custom threshing was finished.