Categories: Lifestyle

Tractor museum gets antique threshing machine

After sitting quietly in a shed west of Dapp for many years, unnoticed and unknown by most, and with an interesting story behind it, an old threshing machine has found a new home at the Canadian Tractor Museum in Westlock.

The machine, a wooden sided 22 x 36 Champion built by Waterloo Manufacturing Co. Ltd. of Waterloo, Ont. in the early 1900s, made its way westward to its first home at the Robert Breadner farm in the Dungannon district northwest of Clyde.

In 1904, he purchased two quarters of CPR land in that area with the intent to retire on it and also to bring an asthmatic daughter Mabel away from the damp B.C. coastal weather. A millwright, he had originally farmed and worked in mills in Markham, Ont., then later in New Westminster, B.C.

His family joined him at their Dungannon farm home in 1909. Sometime during his farming career there, he purchased the little threshing machine.

One of his sons, Carmen, who was born in 1893, took over the farm when Robert retired. With the farm came the threshing machine.

Carmen Breadner’s daughter Jean Cameron, who resides in Westlock today, says she was born in 1925 and remembers the machine from her youth.

“I remember dad working with that machine when I was maybe eight or nine years old, so it would be in the 1930s,” Cameron said.

But she doesn’t know exactly when her grandfather bought the machine originally.

“My dad went into custom threshing. He did a lot of threshing for the neighbours in the Dungannon district. He had a bunkhouse for the workers and went around the neighbours and they helped when they could.”

He also got hired help, and she can recall filling straw ticks for the bunkhouse for the men to sleep on.

She says her dad used a McCormick Deering tractor to power the thresher, and believes it was a 15-30 on steel.

When Carmen retired sometime in the 1960s, he held a farm sale and his nephew Ken Breadner bought the machine.

Bernard Wiese, who knew the Breadners at Dapp very well and is quite into the antique farm machinery scene himself, says the sale was held in the fall and Ken had to leave it at the farm there for the first winter, resulting in the paint fading somewhat.

But he took the old machine to his farm west of Dapp the next spring and stored it in a shed, covering it over with tin as well to protect it.

And there it sat for many years. Ken passed away several years ago, and recently, his sister Donna Miller and her sons retrieved the machine and brought it to the Canadian Tractor Museum in Westlock to be donated by her and cousin Jean to the museum on behalf of the Breadner family.

Bernard Wiese says this is one of the old wooden-sided machines that is still in pretty good shape.

It is equipped with The Farmer’s Friend Stacker, also built by the Waterloo company. When it was brought to the museum, the feeder was not attached, and the elevator folded down for transport mode.

But it is all there, and those at the museum are happy to have such an old wooden sided machine still in quite good condition.

However, it will take some work to get it fixed up and ready for display, and that will come in time, with a lot of “labour of love.”

Les Dunford: