Agricultural College Gas Tractors

In the Manitoba Agricultural Museum’s collection are a number of photographs.  This photo of particular interest as the tractor on the right hand side of the photo is a Goold, Shapley and Muir “Ideal” tractor which was one of the very few models of Canadian tractors built at the dawn of the tractor age.

Goold Shapely and Muir (GS&M) was formed from Goold and Company, a manufacturer of beekeeper supplies and refrigerators in 1892. The new company diversified and began to manufacture windmills, gasoline engines, tanks, lookout towers, concrete mixers and pumps.  Manufacturing gas engines resulted in GS&M manufacturing tractors. In 1907, the company introduced the “Ideal” tractor line which consisted of two models the 35-18 and 50-25. GS&M was different from other early tractor manufacturers as they listed the belt pulley horsepower first and drawbar horsepower second.  GS&M went on to produce the “Ideal Junior” a 24-12 tractor. In 1918, GS&M replaced the “Ideal” Line with the Beaver tractor which used a Waukesha engine and friction drive transmission. The Beaver line is a close copy of the Rock Island tractor. As GS&M records are not available, no one is sure whether GS&M arranged with Rock Island to build a copy of the Rock Island tractor. By 1921, GS&M was getting out of building tractors. GS&M continued building other machinery but closed completely in the late 1930s.

“Ideals” competed in the 1910, 1911 and 1912 Winnipeg Agricultural Motor competitions. While they won no prizes, they must have been successful enough that GS&M continued to enter the competition.  The Winnipeg Trials were the first venue to scientifically determine the capabilities of various tractors and served as the model for the Nebraska tractor tests which came in 1920. Tractors were belted to a pony brake where horsepower and fuel consumption were measured. The tractors undertook field plowing where further measurements were made of fuel and water used.  Farmers could observe the tractors in action to determine how well they performed and handled plus the level of skill needed to operate each tractor.

As the 35-18 and 50-25 Ideals were identical in appearance, it is not known which model is in the photo. The Manitoba Agricultural Museum does not have an Ideal, but there is a Beaver tractor in the collection.

The photo also contains an IHC tractor and a Universal tractor. The substantial brick building in the background seems to have been just completed as there is a stack of building stone at the right hand side.  These items plus the number of young men in the photo present a puzzle. After some investigation, it is thought the photo was taken on the Tuxedo campus of the Manitoba Agricultural College and the young men in the photograph were a class studying the new technology of the tractor. The Tuxedo campus was built in 1903-1906 but by 1914 the College had decided to move to the present location of the University of Manitoba in Fort Garry as it could not obtain further land at Tuxedo.

Come on out to the Manitoba Agricultural Museum’s Thresherman’s Reunion and Stampede, July 28-31,  look over the Beaver tractor and have great time taking in the demonstrations and displays at one of the best agricultural museums in North America!

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