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W.G. Dickson’s combine setup, pictured with sons Murray and Archie in 1943.

Second World War-era photos show novel solution to labour shortage

Photos donated to the Manitoba Agricultural Museum show W.G. Dickson’s unique combine setup

Photos recently donated to the Manitoba Agricultural Museum may show one farmer’s novel solution to labour shortages during the Second World War. The Dickson Henderson family of the Boissevain area donated several digital images to the museum. One photo shows a pull-type combine set up to allow remote operation of the tractor from the combine

Sandison Farm nabs attention of Scotland Yard

Our History: December 1890

The December 1890 issue of the Nor-West Farmer and Miller contained a glowing, two-page-plus report on the success of the Sandison Farm near Brandon, including renderings such as the threshing crew shown here. It had “within the last four years, expanded from a moderate beginning to a size hitherto unapproached in this province.” That year


An 1890’s Sawyer Massey threshing outfit

A photo of one of the earlier Manitoba threshing operations taken just years after the land was put to the plow

Recently the Manitoba Agricultural Museum was the recipient of a collection of agricultural photos collected over the years. The donor of the photos wishes to remain anonymous at this time. Unfortunately the photographs had no further information with them. Many photos taken of pioneer agricultural activities have information written on the photos containing such information

A group portrait of the Dickson threshing gang taken in 1910. Some of the people in the photo are numbered and on the back of the photo is a key matching the name of the person with their number.  1) W.G. Dickson, 2) Mrs. Ben Dickson, 3) Joyce Dickson (Dring), 4) Claude Dickson, 5) Laura Taylor, 6) Mrs. Cavers, 7) Joe Blacklock, 8) Michael O’Keefe. The back of the photo also identifies the person on the upper left outside as Norman Burke.

The Ben Dickson threshing gang 1910

This photo reveals a young workforce, some dressed in their Sunday best for the rarity of appearing in a photograph

The Dickson-Henderson family of Boissevain graciously donated to the Manitoba Agricultural Museum a number of photographs taken on their farms near Boissevain. One photo is a group portrait of the Dickson threshing gang taken in 1910. The photo was taken by Osborne Photo which appears to have been a professional photographer active in the Boissevain

The Peter and Duncan Henderson threshing outfit in the field, near Boissevain.

The Peter and Duncan Henderson outfit

These early Boissevain-area settlers were noted threshermen of their day

While the image you see above is not of the best quality, it is worthy of an article, as it was taken sometime around 1890 and shows a Cornell portable steam engine powering a “Wide Awake” separator. The outfit belonged to Duncan and Peter Henderson who were early settlers in the Boissevain area. Peter Henderson


The McPhail Sawyer Massey thresher in 1919. The machine does not appear to be running as there is a man on top of the machine bent over doing something, perhaps oiling the bearing on a shaft. The spokes on the pulleys are visible which indicates the pulleys are not revolving. If the pulleys were revolving the spokes would not be visible. In addition, the man on top of the machine would have been foolish to get close to moving pulleys and belts as projecting keys and metal belt lacing possessed the terrible ability to catch clothing and pull the person into the machinery. While oiling the babbitt bearings in use at the time needed to be done on a very regular basis, long spouted oil cans allowed the operators to remain as far away as possible from revolving parts. All the same, in the Pioneer era, missing fingers and limbs were common as a result of farm machinery accidents.

The McPhail outfit circa 1919

Once again a historic photo gives us insight into a world long past

Among the photos donated to the Manitoba Agricultural Museum is a series of photos taken on the Archie McPhail farm northeast of Brandon sometime around 1919. The photo seen here shows the threshing machine in use by Archie McPhail at the time, a wooden Sawyer Massey. The other photos seen in the series show the

The Black family in the field with their Steward Sheaf Loader. For some reason a number of ladies has come out to the field. Perhaps the loader was new and they wanted to see it in operation? They are not likely there to deliver a meal as that many would not have been needed to take refreshments.

Farm machinery of the past

Steward Sheaf Loader offered ability to load 
sheaves faster and with less physical labour

Bruce Black of the Brandon area has allowed the Manitoba Agricultural Museum to copy negatives of photographs taken around 1920 on the farms operated by the Black family. The photo above shows a sheaf loader. The handling of sheaves was a large enough problem that a number of pieces of equipment were developed to ease

Helmut Neufeld (l) and Garth Crooks.

VIDEO: Threshermen on the threshold of a Guinness World Record

From the Manitoba Agricultural Museum, Harvesting Hope: A World Record to Help the Hungry

With the help of a wooden Nichols & Shepard thresher and a 1912 Rumely tractor, Helmut Neufeld, Garth Crooks and their team of threshermen get ready to lend their efforts to break the Guinness World Record for the “most threshing machines operating simultaneously.” In this video, get an up-close look at each machine as the


VIDEO: Harvesting hope and harnessing agricultural spirit

From the Manitoba Agricultural Museum, Harvesting Hope: A World Record to Help the Hungry

What does it take to put on the world’s largest pioneer harvest? According to Elliot Sims, one of the co-chairs and organizers of Harvesting Hope: A World Record to Help the Hungry, start with tens of thousands of man-hours, over 800 volunteers, nearly 150 machines and you’re on the right track. The range of antique

Threshing outfit of Mr. Geo. Kent, Shoal Lake Man., consisting of 22-hp waterous double-cylinder traction engine with 35x50 McCloskey separator.

The George Kent outfit

A chance find in an old magazine shows a Manitoba threshing crew in action

While researching the Winnipeg Tractor Trials we reviewed copies of the Canadian Threshermen and Farmer and in a 1904 edition, came across this image of the George Kent outfit, which consisted of a Waterous 22 horsepower steam engine and a 35×50 McCloskey separator. George Kent farmed somewhere around Shoal Lake. The photo contains a wealth