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117 Ruch Street, Coplay, Pennsylvania 18037

Alex MacPherson, a good mechanic, and John MacDonald, a
bookkeeper from the firm of Glasgow, MacPherson and Company, of
Clinton, Ontario, Canada, made the decision to start a threshing
machine business of their own and picked Stratford, Ontario, for
the location of their new business venture.

Not having enough capital to complete their factory, they
appealed to John P. MacDonald’s brother James to sell his farm
and go into partnership with them. The firm, known as MacDonald
& MacPherson Company, built and sold without difficulty the
thirty threshers they planned for in the year 1877 and the success
of their machines from the start assured increasing sales and good
prosperity for the company. These threshers were of the
conventional apron or canvas type side shake shoe. Then about the
year 1880 an end shake shoe was adopted and four years later they
placed it on the market. This was the first of their deck type

Alex MacPherson had a short life span and after his passing the
two MacDonald Brothers carried on the business as the MacDonald
Manufacturing Company. Young Peter MacDonald attended school in
Stratford, Ontario, for two years then started working for the
Grand Trunk Railway Shops as an apprentice machinist. Plus learning
his trade, Peter’s work on railroad locomotives developed a
deep and lasting interest in steam engines. A few years later he
and his brother John K. MacDonald joined their father and uncle in
the threshing machine business where Peter’s training and
interest was directed toward the mechanical end while his brother
just as naturally favoured working with wood.

In the early 1880’s John P. Mac-Donald’s failing health
and other interests resulted in his leaving the business leaving
James and his two sons to carry on the business. James MacDonald
was called by the Lord in December 1911. Born in Scotland, he was
only a few months old when his family sailed the Atlantic Ocean to
Nova Scotia, Canada in the year of 1831. John P. MacDonald was the
first child born during the fourteen years the MacDonald family
remained in Nova Scotia before moving on to the vicinity of
Bruce-field in what is now the province of Ontario. After the Lord
called James MacDonald the firm was reorganized as the MacDonald
Thresher Company Limited and a modern factory was built at the
Eastern outskirts of Stratford to take care of their increasing

MacDonald 20 Hp steam traction engine built in 1908 by the
MacDonald Thresher Company, LTD, Stratford, Ontario, Canada, and
owned by allan Crone, Ontario, Canada.

Photo taken at the Ontario Steam & Antique Preservers
Association Show at Milton, Ontario, Canada by Jack Norbeck, author
of the Encyclopedia of American Steam Traction Engines and included
in the third revised edition. See article about the Mac Donald firm
in this issue. Allan Crone’s MacDonald engine is featured.

The increased demand for traction engines finally persuaded the
firm to begin their production and in 1905 arrangements were made
with the A. D. Baker Company of Swantion, Ohio, to manufacture the
well known ‘Baker’ steam traction engines in Canada.

The first of these steam traction engines were classified as 18
HP size and were built the next year. The 20 and 22 HP sizes
followed and in 1914 a special 25 HP engine was developed to meet
the demand for greater HP for Western Provinces of Canada.

Early ‘Decker’ steam traction engines were built the
same as the 1906 models of A. D. Baker engines. In 1913 the first
piston valve engines were manufactured.

The Lord called Peter MacDonald on November 22, 1950. Peter was
one of the old school of steam lovers who never could reconcile
himself to the great gas age.

He was a great admirer of the Walschart valve gear as used on
steam locomotives and in his spare time in later years constructed
a reverse gear of this type for use on steam traction engines.
Unfortunately, the fate of the steam traction engine had been
sealed and his valve gear never had a trial.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment