Canadian tractor 1920, Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. Courtesy of Pat Baxter, 11106 63rd Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
11106-63rd Ave., Edmonton, Alberta
In the spring of 1919 a tractor with a design of its own appeared on the market in Western Canada. This machine performed very well in the field in all different soil conditions, and sold for less money per horsepower than any other tractor on the market at that time.
It was of a simple construction with less moving parts than the grain binder the farmer used with horses. All bearings and gears (except the final drive) were enclosed and ran in oil. A low speed, two cylinder tractor of 14-28 horsepower built for heavier work than its rating.
This tractor had a few oddities of design well worth mentioning. The main frame was a square 10'xl0' timber, clamped into a recess in the centre of the rear drive member running the length of its wheel base to a recess in the front axle yoke casting into which it was again clamped. Between these two casting units of front and rear wheels, was bolted the radiator unit to the timber frame.
The rear drive wheels were of an old army artillery type using square wooden spokes with a cast hub and rim. The drive wheel rims were cast; with gear rim and lugs integral with cast in square sockets on inner side of rim to retain the wooden spoke. Apparently the use of wood in this machine was to cut down the initial cost, and simplify the repair in the future.
Some forty machines were built in the years 1919-1920 at Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada; this being the only tractor built entirely in Western Canada.
There were quite a number of things against the success of this tractor, particularly bad crops and low prices for wheat, along with a great number of farmers reverting back to horsepower.
The idea of a wooden spoke in the drive wheels and a wooden beam for a frame did not pan out so well on account of the dryness of the atmosphere in the west, as they shrunk and cracked thus causing excessive looseness and misalignment of respective members. Augmenting the general attention given to tractors of its day.
This tractor was built at Medicine Hat, by the Alberta Foundry and Machine Company, Limited, and managed by the late J. E. Davies.
The Alberta Foundry and Machine Company, Ltd., had taken the building of these tractors from plans submitted by R. B. Hartsbough, a promoter from Minneapolis and a man with years of experience, and one who had built one of the first successful gas tractors in the United States.
Everything was made locally for this tractor with the exception of the crankshaft, camshaft, valves, and of course the spark plugs and the necessary electrical equipment.
Today the Alberta Foundry Co., is a flourishing concern under the management of E. E. Heckbert, manufacturing irrigation gates, land packers and many other items.
Leaving with us today in the Western Development Museum at North Battle ford, Saskatchewan, one of the Canadian Tractors as a mile stone in our western development.