| September/October 1964

Turn with us to yester year when the steamer bossed the frontier. When the threshing part of the year was the big moment in every young farm boys life and also in every grown mans life to. Those were the days long before the combine and instead of two men doing all the work like today, there might have been a crew of 22 men. In the early years of steam the portable was the means by which most of the threshing was done with a hand feed separator and straw carryer. Then about 1880 came the traction steamer and along about 1895 the wind stacker and feeder. The common makes back in those years in Canada was Case, John Abell, Sawyer and Steven, Turner & Burns. Back then if you were roaming through the country in the harvest time you might hear whistles blowing in all parts of the country in the early hours of the morning as this meant the fire man had steam up and it was time to get up for another days hard work. You would get up at about 4 o'clock so you could be in the field by 5:30 A.M. Then came breakfast at 5 A.M. after this out to the field. Each crew was from 16 to 22 or more men and thats when a man worked from 5:30 A.M. to 9:30 P.M. for $1.25 a day. The fire man got $1.25 and engineer from $2.50 to $3.00. Many outfits hauled grain direct from the separator to the town elevator four or more miles away and many there was of up to 7 grain men to an outfit. 5:30 then men were in the field, but it was the delight of the fireman to pull the whistle at 5:30 to let all know steam was up. After breakfast was over it meant mother and her help must hurry! hurry! Dishes to wash and cream separator to do. Then came the cooking. Nine apple pies to bake and be ready by nine. There usually was baked 16 to twenty loaves of bread a head of time. 12 lbs of butter, crocks of cookies or doughnuts. Large plates of meat, potatoes to cook etc., must all be ready and on the table by 12 P.M. Then came the loud whistle at 11:30 which meant the crew was quiting for dinner, while a short toot or two would break the teams into a trot as this meant they were short of teams and the golden grain would be pouring out in a pile on the ground were some one would have some shoveling to do. For all the hard work attached to it, there was something good about it all as the men were hungry and how they downed that home cooked food. The hardest job of all was the tankman when he would either dip by a pail fastened to along pole from a 12 foot square well or creek or with a hand pump on the water wagon. The hose was then thrown into the well and pumped from there to water wagon which held about 14 barrels of water and on a big outfit there might be four tanks used a day. This was hard work you can be sure. But for all the hard work those days will live on in the memorys of men of a bygone age.