THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP THRESHING CONTEST


| May/June 1976



Alex McKee

Alex McKee of Hartley, Saskatchewan busily firing sheaves into the separator at the Milton, Ontario contest. Courtesy of George Shepherd, Western Development Museum, Box 1910, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.

George Shepherd

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Perhaps our younger generation and the uninitiated might wonder why all the interest and excitement over the setting up contests. There is a very good reason for these competitions. In the early days of steam threshing with a crew of up to 25 men, the only time any money was made was when the grain bundles were actually going into the grain separator.

When a threshing outfit moved into a field of grain stooks, the engine pulling the grain separator would be unhooked and swung around ready to be belted to the separator. This is where speed and skill counted.

To be the owner of a threshing outfit gave the owner standing and prestige in his community. This was sometimes dearly bought for the operation of a threshing outfit was an extremely hazardous business. There could be wet weather, breakdowns, or sometimes a heavy stand of straw with very little grain. Small wonder that a great many owners of steam threshing outfits went broke at the job. In the early days of steam threshing many engineers secured a well deserved reputation by the speed with which they could make a set and have the outfit earning money in record time.

This tradition is carried out at the setting up contest at the Western Development Museum at Saskatoon, Canada. There is tenseness, excitement and drama at the contests, especially when the finals are being run off. The thrill has now been compounded by competitions between steam and gasoline outfits.

Fifteen years ago the Western Producer, one of the few weekly agricultural farm magazines still serving Western Canada, with a weekly circulation of 150,000, took the setting up contests under its wing by donating a shield for the annual contests. Each year the names of the four or five men winning the competition are inscribed on small plaques which are then attached to the larger shield.