Goderich, Ontario, Can.
When questioning oldtimers about their early threshing
recollections I have often heard this ‘The first threshing
machine I remember was made in Oshawa’ and coupled with this
statement would be ‘And what a heavy brute it was!’ These
old unmounted threshers were well and solidly built and their
owners continued to use them long after the mounted machines came
on the market. Loading and unloading these old threshers and the
down horse-powers into and out of the high wheeled wagons then in
use is remembered as the hardest part of threshing.
The history of these Oshawa threshing machines date back to 1828
when Joseph Hall, a native of New Jersey, built a small thresher.
His machine was considered quite a good one and he decided to begin
the manufacture of threshers at Rochester, New York. Halls
threshers were of the open cylinder type and received favorable
mention during the 1830’s. Early in 1840 John A. Pitts, who
with his brother Hiram A., of Winthrop, Maine, had invented the
‘endless apron’ separator in 1837, came to Rochester and
joined up with Joseph Hall. Together they built threshers of the
Pitts type for two or three years and during this time the original
Pitts machine was improved by extending the tailings elevator to
deliver the tailings into the cylinder instead of on the apron.
This improvement Hall patented in his own name and the resulting
dissatisfaction broke up the partnership.
SECTIONAL, VIEW OF Miller’s ‘New Model’ Vibrating
THE MOST PERFECT THRESHER, THE MOST PERFECT SEPARATOR, THE MOST
PERFECT CLEANER EVER OFFERED TO THE PUBLIC. THE ONLY TRUE GRAIN
Joseph Hall continued to manufacture several hundred machines a
year in his Rochester factory while John A. Pitts moved on to
Springfield, Ohio, and then to Buffalo, New York, where he founded
the big Buffalo-Pitts Company. Meanwhile the territory north of
Lake Ontario was rapidly becoming settled and as the brush was
cleared and the farms grew bigger a demand was created for
threshing machines. The only place to procure these was south
across the lake and with Rochester having direct shipping
connections it was only natural that Joseph Hall got the bulk of
the orders. His export trade grew so extensive that he decided to
explore the possibility if starting a branch factory in Canada and
thus supply the market more cheaply by eluding the customs
Joseph Hall chose Oshawa, a town of growing importance on the
north shore of Lake Ontario, as the site of his new venture. In
1851 the Oshawa Manufacturing Company was origanized and a brick
factory built an which scythes, hoes, and other hand implements
were made but the difficult times of 1857 caused it to shut down.
The following year Hall leased the idle factory and sent over from
Rochester some of his best, workmen along with Francis Wayland
Glen, a relative by marriage, as manager to open the Canadian
branch and set an objective of one. hundred machines to be ready
before the 1859 harvest.
Steel Boiler, Steel Tubes, Lock Up Safety Valves, All Parts
Interchangeable, Perfect Spark Arrester with Good Draught, Simple,
Durable, Easily Managed, Economical, The Very Best Made in
Before long Joseph Hall purchased the original building and
built additional ones and under the spirited management of F. W.
Glen the Joseph Hall Manufacturing Company grew and prospered.
Skilled craftsmen were brought in from England and Scotland and the
States. New lines were developed and before many years the firm was
turning out such diverse equipment as turbine waterwheels, pumps,
sawmills, printing presses and other heavy equipment in addition to
their agricultural and threshing machinery.
The firm continued to build the Hall ‘Champion’
threshing machines of the apron type for over twenty years,
improving and enlarging them as the years passed. With the demand
for machines of the vibrating type Miller’s ‘New Model’
as manufactured by the C. Altman Co., of Canton, Ohio, was adopted.
This separator was designed to combine the best features of the old
apron and new vibrating machines and old testimonials indicate that
fit met with munch approval.
Up to the mid 1870’s horsepower driven threshers were built
then a special machine for steam threshing was designed. This
machine had a 36 inch cylinder and a 42 inch apron and a portable
engine for driving it was obtained from Wood, Taber and Morse, of
Eaton, New York. In 1878 a boiler shop was built and the firm began
to build portable engines after the same pattern in their own
plant. These engines were of the round bottom locomotive boiler
type with side crank engine mounted with cylinder to the firebox
end and the belt wheel on the right hand side. Early engines had a
long hinged smokestack with screen top. Later models had the
McKenzie patent waiter spark-arrester. Besides portable engines,
stationary engines of the Corliss type were built at the Oshawa
Joseph Hall died at this Rochester home June 7th, 1865, in his
71st year. After his death the Oshawa plant continued under the
management of F. W. Glen whose enterprise built the establishment
into one of the foremost of its kind in Canada. In later years,
however, he became engrossed in politics and succeeded in being
elected twice to represent the Oshawa district in parliament and
spent far too much time and money on this activity for his own or
the company’s good. A warning of events’ to come took place
in 1885 when the name was changed to the Joseph Hall Machine Works
and by the early part of the next year financial difficulties
resulted in bankruptcy and the extensive Joseph Hall Works that had
gained a wide reputation as leaders in their day in the production
of mechanical equipment, closed their doors on February 24th,
Approximately 5000 threshing machines and 100 portable engines
had been built at the Oshawa factory and the closing of the plant
might have been serious for their owners had not Roibert Woon, for
many years accountant and secretary for F. W. Glen, realized and
situation and gathering together as possible patterns, leased one
of the foundry buildings and was thus able to furnish repair parts
for former customers.
In 1894 Robert Woon formed a partnership with his son, purchased
one of the original buildings and under the name of R. Woon Company
commenced to build the ‘New Oshawa Clover Thresher’, an
improved model of the original huller as built by the Joseph Hall
Manufacturing Company. These machines had a re-cleaning mill
attached and later models had self feeders and wind stackers. They
enjoyed an excellent reputation for simplicity, ease of operation
and rapid threshing and were produced in limited quantities until