Radisson, Sask., Canada
HAVING BEEN A FARMER and thresherman in Saskatchewan for over 40 years and still interested in the old steam engines and threshers of bygone days, I decided to write a few lines. It is a cold, dreary night here 25 below zero with lots of fresh snow and reports on the radio call for more snow and cold weather. Makes one wish they had some of the Kansas harvest weather mentioned by Marcus Leonard in your August issue. Also in the same issue was a picture of a Huber steam engine owned by Hasenflue Bros., but have not seen any in operation in many years.
Mr. Jesse Barber of Lavine, Iowa, sure must have had an interesting life as a thresherman having his 36 different engines. I would surely like to meet him someday and exchange ideas on the different makes. Here we have had many kinds such as Case, Gaar Scott, Avery under mounted and a few Canadian makes such as Sawyer & Massey, Robt. Bell, Waterloo, Cock of the North and Geo. White all good reliable engines in their day. My favorite was a Rumely twin cylinder or a Gaar Scott double simple, but there were others just as good I suppose.
There were two makes I was never able to see here in Canada, namely, Wood Bros., and Baker Uniflow. I understand these were very economical and powerful. We have here in Canada at North Battleford and Saskatoon, and Yorktob a large collection of old steam and gas engines, threshers, plows, etc., in the Western Development Museum at these places. I have visited two of them and can say that the display of grand old threshing outfits, etc., is well worth seeing especially by the younger generation who have never seen old timers in operation. During the Old Time Threshermens Reunion in October last year, in Saskatoon, being the first old-timers get-together, it was a huge success. They had plowing demonstrations by Reeves cross compound steamer pulling a John Deere 12 furrow breaking plow, a brake test of belt horsepower, a setting up contest, belting up to separator in the shortest time, in which, what is believed to be a North American record, was made. A signal demonstration, an obstacle ace for steam engines and steam engine races (200 yards) which provided barrels of fun. Also on display was an old wooden Holt self-propelled combine. This huge machine traveled about 3 miles an hour and took a 20-foot cut and I was told, required 4 or 5 men to operate. It was shipped out of Spokane in 1918 to a large wheat grower in southern Alberta where it was used for several years and finally brought to the museum. The Women Members of the Sask. Farmers Union were in charge of the cook car where they dished out threshermens lunches and other refreshments including a good old 5 cent cup of coffee which really seemed like years gone by. Prizes were awarded to the oldest couple on the grounds and the couple coming the longest distance, which was won by a dear old couple from San Francisco, California. The expectations are that another threshermens reunion will be held in July, which is Saskatchewan's Golden Jubilee Year and no doubt will be bigger than ever with entertainment and fun galore for everybody.
I sure did enjoy meeting the grand old boys of the threshing fields of days gone by and would like to hear from any old thresherman who still likes the smell of the steam and oil, and has not forgotten the thrill of seeing a drive belt roll, hear the hiss of 150 pounds of steam at the cylinder cocks.
Thanks a lot for your kind attention and I will go back in my hole now.