The year 2017 is the 150th anniversary of our great country. In celebration the Manitoba Agricultural Museum (MAM) decided to identify the top 150 artifacts in the collection. This list is too long to be published here but the list can be found in the MAM website under the button marked “150 Reasons.”
One problem that MAM faced in this project is that the museum has so many artifacts, it was difficult to identify the top 150. The list is divided into categories which also had the benefit of MAM not having to identify the top artifact in the collection. This would be a difficult chore as there are a number of criteria that one could use to identify potential top artifacts; rarity, connection to Manitoba, historical significance, role in agriculture and so on. It is easy to identify the criteria, but a lot harder to apply them!
The tractor and gas engine category demonstrates the problem. While the Versatile prototype tractor known as Big Roy is one of the MAM’s most popular artifacts, attracting people from all over the world as well as from North America, it is not as historically significant as the Sawyer Massey 11-22 or 25-45 tractors in the collection. These tractors are early Canadian-built tractors and relatively successful designs for their time, 1910-20. These tractors are just two of the tractors in the collection and the list shows a number of other tractors with just as good a claim to importance.
The steam category also demonstrates the same problem. The collection contains a rare Petersen engine built in Canada and even more rare in that it was never operated after it was built until it came to the museum in the 1960s. The collection also contains an L.D. Sawyer portable engine which was made in Canada and sold in some numbers in the pioneer era along with an American Able engine, which despite its name was a Canadian manufacturer. Again, American Able engines were sold in some numbers. This American Able engine is even rarer in that it is fitted with a “Kitchener” boiler. A lot of the engines at the museum have a long history with Manitoba which makes more difficult the decision to include an engine on the list.
MAM also has a wide selection of farm implements, including some odd implements such as the Ellard potato digger which used revolving forks to dig the potatoes. There are also some common implements that were important to Manitoba, such as the CCIL pull-type combine built in Manitoba. And some unrealized treasures such as the Steward Sheaf Loaders which, until recently, were not known to be built in Manitoba. Steward had a plant in Elmwood and judging from the number of photographs of Stewards in the field which have surfaced, they were a sales success.
Besides implements, tractors and steam engines, the list contains a homemade beehive made from a section of tree trunk. Items such as this beehive often did not survive as they were either used until they fell apart or were simply discarded as no one realized their value or even realized what the item was.
Also on the list are a 120-year-old “log cabin” quilt and the Canada Packer quilt collection. The log cabin quilt also falls into the category of an item that would have been used until it fell apart. So it is rare for a quilt of this vintage to have survived. The Canada Packer quilt collection contains quilts that were made for show and display and so were never meant for everyday use. They are outstanding examples of the art of quilt making.
So have a look over the list of top 150 artifacts in the MAM collection or even better, see the museum in 2017 to examine these artifacts and others in the collection! The staff and volunteers would love to see you in 2017.
The Manitoba Agricultural Museum is open year round and operates a website which can provide visitors with information on the museum and the reunion including location and hours of operation.
AAFC celebrates Agriculture 150
Staff – The website of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has a special section commemorating 150 years of agriculture in Canada. Among other features are a series of videos celebrating both the history of the sector and its bright future. Topics include then-and- now comparisons of pest management, grain harvesting, milking, and food accessibility. Another documentary includes a look at the future of data-driven farming.