President, R.R. 3, Ilderton, Ontario, Canada NOM 2A0
Early in the spring of 1976 about a dozen local fellows got together to discuss the idea of forming a steam and gas engine club in order to put on a display at the Centennial celebrations in Ilderton, Ontario. From this small group a club was formed, and the name Tri-County Heritage Club was chosen. The group had a small but interesting display at the July Centennial celebrations, and from the enthusiasm received it was decided to hold a steam show the following July.
During the 1976-77 year the club grew in membership, ideas, and enthusiasm. By July, 1977 the club had approximately 90 members and was applying for a charter. In planning for the club's first annual Heritage and Antique Show, it was anticipated that the members would be able to put on a small show with a variety of activities, but because of their enthusiasm and dedication the show bonanzed into a large and successful endeavor.
When the gates opened on July 8, the steam was up on 7 steam engines (including a 1911 20-22 HP McDonald, two 20 HP George Whites (1907 and 1923), a 1/2 scale George White Junior, a 20-22 HP 1919 Waterloo, a 1915 Case Traction Engine, and a 1923 20 HP Goodison. As well, there were 2 large upright boilers one operating a variety of miniature steam and the other a shingle mill. In the miniature field there were 5 model steam engines of various scales on display, one of which powered a scale working model, threshing machine that actually threshed wheat throughout the show. Judging by the straw stack it threshed more than its share! All weekend the large steam engines took turns threshing winter barley in two threshing machines, operating the Baker Fan, and sawing logs on a full-scale sawmill set up on the grounds.
Steam, however, was not the only display presented by the club. On the grounds were 91 antique gas tractors (including such names as an Imperial Super Drive, Mogal, Titan, Rumelys, Eagle, Happy Farmer, Lanz Bulldog, Gibson, and Hart Parr), and 115 gasoline engines (including Brantford, London, Ideal, Mogul, Gould Shapley & Muir, Massey Harris, International, Maytag and John Deere). The gas engine boys put on a wide variety of entertainment by operating such things as pumps, a drag saw, washing machines, corn shellers, grinders and elevators.
Between 35 and 40 antique cars added to the show's success. A 1916 Ford Popcorn Wagon supplied hot popcorn for all who attended the show. As well there were such cars as Rolls Royce, Model N Ford, brass rad T's, Model A Fords, Chevs, Dodges and a 7-passenger Chalmers just to name a few.
The show also had an arena full of displays such as old tools, glassware, watch fobs, crafts, a flea market, and a 'boring' display of old brace and bits. A wide variety of amateur music and entertainment by young and old from the community was enjoyed throughout the weekend. On Saturday the club held an auction sale of old farm machinery and antiques, and each afternoon there was a large parade of exhibits.
From the official opening of the show by Ontario's former Minister of Agriculture, William Stewart, steering one of the club member's MacDonald steam engine through the ceremonial ribbon until sunset on July 10, the show was a tremendous success.
The club now has over 135 active members, and we are looking forward to an even bigger and better show July 7, 8 and 9, 1978. In addition to our regular display of gas tractors, steam engines and antique cars, our theme this year will be to host a First International Gas Engine Show, and are extending a warm welcome to anyone interested in participating. We have come to be known as Ontario's fastest growing show and are striving to meet our motto of 'Help Us Preserve Our Past.'