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First-ever Western Canada Heritage Harvest this weekend

Rarely operated vintage combines and swathers will be in operation August 25 at the Manitoba Agricultural Museum ground near Austin

On August 25 at Austin, visitors will have a rare opportunity to see vintage combines and swathers in operation alongside the old threshing machines in the museum’s collection. Pictured is an early 1950s Minneapolis-Moline G4 combine pulled by a 1952 Minneapolis-Moline U tractor.

This will be a harvest you don’t see every day — or haven’t in decades. Seventy acres of wheat will be harvested with antique threshing machines and vintage combines and swathers spanning six decades at a new growing project for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank on August 25.

This is the inaugural Western Canada Heritage Harvest, a joint fundraising event between the CFGB and the Manitoba Agricultural Museum.

It’s a signature event of a new group which formed after the world-record Harvesting Hope event held 2016 at the Manitoba Agricultural Museum, says the committee’s spokesperson Elliot Sims.

The 2016 event was so well supported by visitors and donations and raised so much awareness for both organizations that the two teams decided to continue with an annual event and formed the Heritage Harvest Growing Project.

“Both organizations saw a lot of value in continuing the partnership we started under that,” he said.

This is the second year of that growing project but the first to grow cereals, and a not-to-be-missed event for both those who love to watch an old-fashioned harvest and supporters of the Foodgrains Bank, he said.

What visitors August 25 will see is something even regulars at the annual Threshermen’s Reunion and Stampede rarely do — the museum’s collection of vintage combines actually in operation.

“The museum has a fantastic collection of threshing machines that everyone knows about, but they also have a fairly extensive collection of antique combines, and we don’t get the opportunity to run many of them during the Threshermen’s Reunion and Stampede simply because the crops aren’t ready,” said Sims.

Visitors will be able to see vintage Cockshutt, Gleaner, Minneapolis-Moline, and McCormick and John Deere combines all in operation.

Vintage swathers

The anticipated star of the show will be a true rarity — a Massey Harris combine dating to 1929.

“As far as we know it’s the only operational one in the world,” said Sims, adding its claim to fame, according to what they’ve read, is that it was the first commercial combine built to harvest soybeans.

“It’s been in restoration since 1994, but we’re finally taking it to completion this year and will run it for the Heritage Harvest,” Sims said.

There will also be a series of vintage swathers on the go, of course, including a Versatile 103 and a Cockshutt 504.

As with all growing projects, this one is supported by both local and provincial input suppliers giving the group a discounted rate or donating inputs free of charge, plus local farmers together with the Hidden Valley Hutterite Colony have donated equipment and time to put the crop in and manage it through the growing season.

They’re grateful for all this support, plus the corporate donations that have come in for this project, added Sims.

Admission to see the vintage harvest is free but organizers hope those coming out for it will make a donation from which proceeds will be split to support both the agricultural museum and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

There will also be guided tours of the museum through- out the day, plus an end-of-day field supper to follow and provided by the Austin and Area Wildlife Association. The $20 tickets for that meal must be purchased in advance by contacting the Manitoba Agricultural Museum at 204-637-2354.

For more information visit or email [email protected].

About the author


Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.



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