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Ideal tractor testament to the golden age of manufacturing

These days, social media, software and other digitally focused companies occupy the apex of innovation. But a century ago, many of the brightest and most creative young minds were drawn to manufacturing.

Consider the Goold, Shapley and Muir “Ideal” tractor shown in the accompanying photograph. Headquartered in Brantford, Ont., but with branches in Winnipeg, Regina and Calgary, this manufacturing company had a seemingly endless lineup of products — most in completely unrelated areas.

It began in 1892 as Goold and Company, a manufacturer of beekeeper supplies and refrigerators, quickly began producing a host of different products, including windmills, gasoline engines, tanks, lookout towers, concrete mixers and pumps.

Having a gasoline engine in its diverse product lineup apparently sparked the idea to build something around it. In 1907, the company introduced the Ideal tractor line, which consisted of two models: the 35-18 and 50-25. They were two of the very few models of Canadian tractors built at the dawn of the tractor age.

Goold, Shapley and Muir was different from other early tractor manufacturers as they listed the belt pulley horsepower first and drawbar horsepower second. It went on to produce the Ideal Junior, a 24-12 tractor. In 1918, it replaced the Ideal line with the Beaver, a close copy of the Rock Island tractor, which used a Waukesha engine and friction drive transmission.

As is the case today, the explosion of innovative companies saw many bright lights quickly (in relative terms) come and go. By 1921, Goold, Shapley and Muir was out of the tractor business and it closed its doors for good in the 1930s.

The photo is part of a collection residing at the Manitoba Agricultural Museum in Austin. The museum does not have an Ideal tractor, but there is a Beaver in its collection.

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Alex Campbell is a dedicated volunteer and Member of the Interpretation Committee at the Manitoba Agricultural Museum. http://ag-museum.mb.ca/

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