| September/October 1982

  • Threshing machine

  • Threshing machine

Canada's first threshing machine was built by John Fisher, a Yankee who hailed originally from New York State, in 1836.

The enterprise which he originated grew through the years to become the Sawyer & Massey Co., Ltd., with headquarters at Hamilton, Ont., the town in which he settled.

The story of the first 70 years of Sawyer & Massey is told in a volume published by the firm in 1906. This is now available in a handsome reprint.

John Fisher came to Hamilton at a time when no threshing or reaping machines were available. The farmer scattered his seed by hand or with the simplest of aids; he used the cradle to harvest it, and then it was 'tramped out by oxen or horses or else beaten out with a flail'.

Fisher based his thresher on the Maikle machine made in Scotland in 1786. He built one machine at a time, and as his work grew he added workmen and facilities which would today be considered very primitive. The few castings he used were made in a foundry which was fed with scrap iron and pig iron by a man who climbed a ladder to the roof. He dropped in the iron 'a bucketful at a time, til enough was melted to pour it off'.

Dr. Calvin McQuesten, a physician who was a Fisher relative in Lockport, N. Y., invested $1,500 and gave up medicine to take on the sales job. He got more orders in a year than Fisher could fill and the company prospered. Other products were added.