In 1925, Massey Harris started selling a tractor built by J. I. Case, and in 1928 bought the entire Case company to make it their own tractor.
Surprised? Completely true, but this was the J. I. Case Plow Works, not the more familiar J. I. Case Threshing Machine Co. In the 1920s there were two competing J. I. Case companies producing tractors. Both companies traced their origin back to Jerome Increase Case (1819-1891), who started building threshing machines in the 1840s and founded the J. I. Case Threshing Machine Company. In 1868, Case entered a partnership with E. G. Whiting to build plows and this became the J. I. Case Plow Works, a totally separate entity from the Threshing Machine Company. The Plow Works built the Wallis tractors while the Threshing Machine Company built tractors using the Case name. Massey wanted to build their own tractors, so in 1928 bought the entire Case Plow Works to obtain the tractor design and production facilities. They then sold the rights to the Case name to the Threshing Machine Company, recouping a large part of the purchase price!
The Empire tractor at the Museum was built from Second World War army surplus parts.
Following the end of the Second World War in 1945, the Empire Tractor Corporation designed a general purpose 2-plow light duty farm tractor and began manufacture in 1946. The innovative feature of the design was the use of war-surplus components from the Jeep. Jeeps had been manufactured in very large number during the Second World War. The sudden end of the war caught manufacturers by surprise, resulting in large amounts of war material suddenly being surplus. Once war surplus parts were used up, Empire had to buy more expensive new components and could not make a profit, going out of business in 1948.
A Canadian company designed and built the first zero-till seeder (Cockshutt Tiller Combine).
The Cockshutt Plow Company introduced its “Tiller Combine” in 1930. This revolutionary implement had nothing to do with harvesting; it combined both tillage and seeding functions, hence the name. It consisted of a heavy one-way disc with a seed box mounted on it. It was able to seed directly into stubble without having to plow the land first, which is standard practice today but unheard of in the 1920s. Plowing left the land vulnerable to wind erosion, and was partly responsible for the “Dust Bowl” of the 1930s.
“Green” technology isn’t new; in the 1880s, steam engines used for threshing were designed to burn straw; a free and renewable fuel.
In the 1800s steam engines used for threshing were designed to burn straw, which on the prairies was generally considered a waste material. It was readily available at the threshing site and was a free fuel, which was “renewed” each year, so that there were zero net carbon emissions, better than any technology used today. But when steam engines began to be used for plowing, they were designed to burn coal since straw was not readily available, and the use of straw for fuel eventually ended.
The oldest building at the museum, the Muir Log House, was built in 1879. The Muir family were early pioneers of the MacGregor district.
The Museum was started in 1952 to keep the past alive for future generations. Since its inception, the Museum has spread to encompass 55 acres, 75 buildings and thousands of artifacts.
The Homesteaders’ Village is located on the escarpment of the old Lake Agassiz shore line.
The Fort Ellice Trail passes through the museum grounds. It was travelled from 1821 to 1879 by explorers, fur traders and homesteaders who were all searching for opportunity in a new land.
The Museum provides an excellent perspective on what life was like at the turn of the century. The Homesteaders’ Village represents life in a rural community and other displays concentrate on the role that agriculture played during this time.