This well written article was unintentionally pushed back for a
year. We think it worth while and are now presenting it to you. We
hope you enjoy it as we did and that all concerned will forgive us
for this delay. Editor.
From our lovely northern city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan,
Canada, we take pleasure in submitting a report to our many friends
from across the Line on our first reunion. But first a few details
Our Museums are incorporated under the Western Development
Museum Act passed by the Saskatchewan Legislature in 1949. All of
the activities and full control over the Museums and the exhibits
is vested in a Board whose members are appointed by the Lieutenant
Governor-in-Council. These members serve without pay.
Main credit for the organization of the museums in 1947 should
go to Mr, J. L. Phelphs, who was at that time Minister of Natural
Resources for the Province and who, as Board Chairman, is still the
moving spirit behind the enterprise.
Of the many others who gave freely of their time and energies to
get the projects organized we might mention Prof. E. A. Hardy,
Prof. J. G. (Grant) McEwan, both of the University here and Roy
Potter, well known to many readers of the IRON-MEN ALBUM.
That was only eight years ago and now we have three airplane
hangers filled to overflowing with relics of the pioneer days
ranging from small household articles to giant steam threshers. The
hangars are situated, one at North Battleford, one at Yorkton with
the main hangar within the city limits of Saskatoon, where most of
the reconditioning work and business is done.
At Saskatoon a full time crew of four to five men under the
direction of the shop foreman Fred Leigh, rebuild the incoming
exhibits and keep the others in good running order. At this date it
appears as though 30,000 people will have visited the Saskatoon
hangar in 1954.
It is perhaps quite understandable that we approached our first
reunion with a certain amount of misgiving. A visit from Roy Kite
of Bird City, Kansas, last fall gave us a start on our project and
the photographs so kindly mailed us by Mr. Kite of the Kansas
reunions were very carefully studied.
Then in late August of 1954 we were fortunate enough to have a
three-day visit from Mr. and Mrs. Harold I. Ottaway of Wichita,
Kansas. Harold was kind enough to ‘sweat out’ a good many
hours of his holiday time with us, and on his return to Kansas, he
airmailed us two films of Kansas Reunions. From the films and other
material and the IRON-MEN ALBUM we received invaluable help. Words
are inadequate to express our sincere thanks to our friends from
across the Line who helped so much with their advice and
encouragement. A great deal of the success of this our first
reunion can be credited to their kindness.
Just like a young teen-ager we had to make a blind date with the
weather and the only practical date for the fall seemed to be
October 8-9 and 11. After a disastrous summer in which, for the
first time in the history of the Province, we saw our crops ruined
by too much rain, we were blessed with ideal fall weather for our
Briefly our programme was as follows: We serviced and tuned-up
our machines during the morning and moved them around enough to
interest our morning visitors. Our real programme however, did not
start until 1:30 in the afternoon. In keeping with the spirit and
informality of our show our grandstand was our low boy trailer with
a kitchen table for a desk. We had rented a public address system
and over this our guests of honor and old timers were introduced
and a running commentary on the proceedings was kept up during the
At 1:45 we had our daily parade of our moveable equipment past
our grandstand. As the machines moved slowly past the Curator gave
a brief description of the machines and their drivers over the
public address system. The ‘Grand Old Lady of the Fleet’,
our Reeves cross compound 32-120 led the way, followed by nine or
ten other steamers such as the Minnie, the Gaar Scott, the Avery
and what have you.
Then came the gas tractors both large and small followed by four
or five of our antique cars. Last but by no means least in the
parade was our giant Holt Self Propelled Combine-vintage 1918. With
its 20 foot cut this is really a magnificent exhibit. Sold new out
of Spokane in 1918, it came over the Line in 1927 to the Mahr
Bros., of Milk River, Alberta. These men used the machine until
1944. It was always stored in the machine shed and is therefore in
Following the parade we had the steam whistling demonstration
both locomotive and farm signals being given, this was followed by
the Prony brake test, the obstacle race and the setting contest. We
timed our setting contest from the moment the draw pin was pulled
until the feeder slats started to turn.
E. L. Gramson of Delisle, Saskatchewan, made the best time with
one minute and thirty-five seconds. We extend a cordial invitation
to our friends from across the Line to come up in 1955 and getter
that time. We will give you your choice of ten steamers and ten gas
tractors and make this an international event. Quite naturally we
are laying our betting money right on the line on Mr. Gramson.
In addition to these daily events we threshed oats with a
Northwest 25hp. return flue steamer firing with straw, This engine
drove the 36-60 Northwest separator, both of these machines having
been built at Stillwater, Minnesota around 1903.
We ploughed with our Reeves and a 12-bottom John Deere plow and
as a concluding item on our field events we had a steam engine-gas
engine race with nine entries. To a great many of our visitors this
was one of the exciting events of the day.
Close to 5,000 people saw our show and the event was filmed and
televised by the National Film Board of Canada. This film has been
released in Canada and will be released in the States shortly. A
top commentator of the Canadian Broadcasting Company was on hand
and we were well covered by the press.
One interesting feature of our reunion was the Threshermens
lunches served by a group of S.F.U. farm women from two of the
original cook car cabooses belonging to the Museum. Their specialty
was coffee at five cents a cup.
Our reunion differs a little from those across the Line in that
all of our machines are owned by and are operated under the one
authority of the Museum Board. They are handled by our regular
Museum work crew, assisted by old-timers who come in for the event
and well qualified volunteers. And don’t make any mistake about
it. There is plenty of room for good natured rivalry in our
It is planned that our next reunion will be held in early July
of 1955, when Saskatchewan will be holding its fiftieth anniversary
of the incorporation of the Province from the old Territorial days.
Plenty of notice will be given through the IRON-MEN ALBUM and other
sources of the date.
A cordial welcome is extended by the Board Chairman, Mr. J. L.
(Joe) Phelps to the general public and especially old time
threshermen to be with us. We will be looking for you at Saskatoon
in 1955. If interested address correspondence to George Shepherd,
Curator, Western Development Museum, 1839 11th St., Saskatoon,