Thursday 14 August 2014

Farming Fridays

This is an egg incubator which was used for hatching chicken eggs. Mechanical incubating was not invented until the year of 1749 by Reamur in Paris, France. Prior to this invention, one of the first recorded methods of incubating included using the heat of rotted manure to warm the eggs.

Although this incubator is mechanical, it was still before the availability of electricity to farms, instead, a coal oil lamp was used to heat water, circulating by convection through pipes around the perimeter of the incubator. This incubator is a cabinet style, made of redwood and could be suitable for indoor decor. Very few of these can be found today, making this item rare, especially because the incubator still has the original kerosene attachment. The cabinet style has drawer pull-outs for placing the eggs and for turning. Most incubators required hand turning of the eggs.

Saturday 9 August 2014

Farming Fridays

This McCormick Deering cream separator is used to separate fresh milk into cream and skim milk. Often the skim milk was consumed by the farmer and his family and the cream was saved to make butter, or it would be sold.
Before the centrifugal mechanism such as this one, milk was separated by letting it sit in a container until the cream floated to the top and could be skimmed off by hand. But the centrifugal separator makes it possible to separate cream from milk faster and more easily, without having to let the milk sit for a long time and risk it turning sour.
This one was originally a hand cranked machine but a motor was later added around 1925. The fresh milk gets poured into the supply can at the top, and then leaves the bowl through a valve on the side and passes into the disks where the cream separates. Good separators have a bell in the center of the gear (ours is missing); this allows the user to tell when the cream separator was being cranked at the right speed, usually 60 revolutions per minute. If the bell was ringing the cream separator needed to be cranked faster. This speed was very important for the cream separator to operate at peak efficiency. There are two different spouts at different heights, the top spout pours out the cream and the lower spout pours out the skim milk. Floor model cream separators such as this one often have a swinging platform where a bucket would go to collect the cream. 

Friday 8 August 2014

Glengarrians & The Great War

This unique wheelchair belonged to Pte. John Alexander Grant. Grant was born in Apple Hill on September 5, 1896 to Mr. & Mrs. Duncan A Grant. He enlisted in the Canadian army on March 11, 1916 in Maxville, ON.  He was stationed during the First World War in England and France. During his time in France, he suffered a severe  injury, which resulted in shrapnel wounds and the amputation of both his legs. He was given this wheelchair, equipped with operating handles, once he was discharged from the army. It is believed that he continued to have a military presence by becoming a recruitment officer for local military branches.

        His wheelchair was donated to the Glengarry Pioneer Museum by the Estate of Myles Edwards c/o Bill Edwards. Myles refurbished the wheelchair and obtained a copy of Pte Grant's service and medical records but the connection between the Edwards and Grant families is unknown because of the death of Myles Edwards.

Thursday 31 July 2014

Farming Fridays

One of the more important aspects of pioneer settlement and pioneer life in Canada was how they made use of everything they had in order to make a life for themselves. Imagine arriving at a completely unusual, unfamiliar place with nothing and being surrounded by thousands of acres of forests. For pioneers, this was only one of the problems that they had to overcome in order to prosper in Canada. Before they could begin to farm, pioneers had to cut down many trees so they could plant crops. It was a very labour intensive task to clear the land but with innovation, creativity, and hard work, the pioneers learned of easier techniques and instruments to clear the land more efficiently.

            One particular artifact that we have here in our collection is a very useful tool for early farmers in the area is a crosscut saw. Crosscut saws have been used around the world since the 15th century but have evolved over time to accommodate different types of trees, changes in metallurgy technology, and experiences. A crosscut saw is a general term for any saw blade cutting wood against the wood grain. They can have small teeth close together for things like woodworking, or they can have large teeth for course work like log bucking (cutting a tree into logs). The cutting edge of each tooth is angled in an alternating pattern which allows each tooth to act like a knife edge and slice through the wood. Many saw tooth patterns have 4 cutters and adjacent to the cutters there is generally a raker which does the actual removal of the wood that is being cut. The raker follows the cutters scraping the bottom of the kerf, and as it scrapes, a strip of wood is shaved away.

            Since arrival to Glengarry in the late 1700’s and throughout most of the 1800’s, wood remained the staple item of building and survival. They found use for everything in those days, so all the wood they had chopped down to clear space for crops would be used for anything and everything. Many of their farming tools were made of wood, their log cabin homes, kitchen utensils, fences, barrels, furniture, toys, shovels, and the list goes on. Even with the advancement of the chainsaw just after WWII, crosscut saws are still in wide use around the world today.

*Tip from an antique saw collector: if you want to get twice the heat out of your firewood, cut it up with a crosscut. 

Friday 18 July 2014

Farming Fridays

     This is a Fanning Mill from the late 1800s that became a very important piece of farm machinery for early farmers. It is a peculiar-looking device made of wood, with shaped handles, rounded edges and like other old-time machinery, fanning mills were attractively painted in showy colours and designs appearing almost like a piece of furniture. The colours on this particular one have long since faded away, but when restored to their natural beauty they are quite attractive.

     The purpose of the Fanning Mill was to remove straw, chaff, stones, dirt and dust, weed seeds, and light immature seeds from wheat, oats, rye, barley, and other grains. It was important to remove contaminants for better preservation during storage and to have mold and grit free flour. Fanning Mills were a great technical advance over winnowing, which is the hand-process of pouring grain from one container to another in a breeze to blow away the lighter matter. Fanning Mills also cleaned the grain more thoroughly than a threshing machine and mills were kept around farms for a long time to re-clean oats and wheat in the spring for planting. This particular Fanning Mill would also bag the grains as they come to the bottom of the tray. 

Saturday 12 July 2014

Glengarrians & The Great War

This week’s World War One blog post features correspondence between Mr. William J. Cuthbert and W.P. Cooke, the Deputy Registrar at the Military Service Branch in Alexandria. The letters contain an appeal from military service by William Cuthbert on the grounds that he is a farmer. The appeal was eventually granted, and Mr. Cuthbert and his brother were exempted from active service until December 31st, 1918. These documents are significant because they highlight the importance of Glengarry’s agricultural roots. Although it was important to send troops to Europe in support of the war effort, it was also essential to make sure there was food to be transported to the men overseas. 
Canada, as a dominion of the British Empire, was automatically involved in Britain’s conflict due to its colonial status. It became an active participant in the imperial war effort, working not only to meet Britain’s military needs, but also to provide economic and food support.This led to the development of nationwide initiatives, such as the “Soldiers of the Soil (SOS)” program, which encouraged young men to stay home and work the farm, and  “Farm Service Crops” or “Farmettes” with a similar mandate as the SOS but targeted women as recruits. WWI caused strain on farming communities, as they felt pressured  to support the war effort by  sending their sons to the front, but also to have enough help on the farm to meet the food demands during the conflict.

Farming Fridays

Jamieson Stoning Machine
     You can’t miss this extravagant piece of farm equipment as you are meandering through the museum grounds. Being one of our biggest artifacts here at the museum, it is also one of our more remarkable pieces in our agriculture collection because of the outstanding convenience it provided for many early farmers. In order for the land to be practical for growing crops, they had to clear the big stones out of the land space where they would like to plant. This big horse powered machine did the job just fine. The stoning machine was invented by an early settler of Brodie, William Jamieson, with the intent to help farmers with this labour intensive task of moving large boulders from their fields. After it was built, it had to be driven all the way to Kingston to acquire a patent for it.

     Although the mechanics of the machine look fairly complicated and complex, it was not hard to run. Young boys would work ahead of the machine and used a maul and chisel to make holes in the stones so the metal hooks could fit into the holes and lift the boulder with relative ease. Being a very useful machine to farmers, and only needing a horse or two to lift the stones by pulleys and ropes, it became a very popular tool and was still used well into this century. You could rent it for $1.50 a day and often farmers would make stone fences from all the boulders and many of the fences around Glengarry still have stones with these holes on their sides. 

Thursday 26 June 2014

Farming Fridays

This week we are featuring an agricultural tool called a winnowing basket which is used to separate grain from the chaff. After being harvested, farmers would bring the grain into the barn to be threshed, which involves beating the grain with a flail to loosen the grains from the husks. It would then be placed into the winnowing basket where the farmer would toss the recently flailed grain up from the basket into the air. With both barn doors open it would create a cross breeze which would allow for the wind to blow the light chaff away and the grains would fall back into the basket. The grain would then be ready for the grist mill where it would be turned into flour. Different techniques included; using a winnowing fan (a shaped basket shaken to raise the chaff, like the one from our collection shown in the picture) or using a tool (a winnowing fork or shovel) on a pile of harvested grain.

Today, in developed areas, the process of threshing and winnowing grain is mostly done by machine usually by a combine harvester, which harvests, threshes, and winnows the grain all while it is still in the field. 

Saturday 21 June 2014

Glengarrians & The Great War

This photograph features Pte. Oliver Barton  & Pte. Gilbert Fraser Barton, a set of brothers from Lochinvar in Glengarry County. Both Bartons served in the Great War, and lost their lives as a result of the tragic conflict.  They were the sons of Margaret Sarah Fraser & Robert Barton, who also had seven other children.

Pte. Gilbert Fraser Barton, shown on the right, was the older brother of the two. He was born on December 29th, 1895. At 20 years old, he enlisted into the Canadian Army at the Ottawa Recruitment Office.  He spent a portion of the next two years serving in different battalions, and suffered a bout of Scarlet Fever.  On March 30th 1918, Barton received gunshot wounds to his side, and was removed from the field. On April 1st, he passed away in hospital from his injuries.

Oliver, who is pictured on the left, enlisted into the army when he was 18 years and 9 months. He was assigned right away to the 137th Battalion for The Theatre of War in France.  He served for most of 1916, until October 8th, when he is reported missing and then listed as “Killed in Action.” There is no further information available on Pte. Oliver Barton.

Author’s Note:
The Barton brothers, as well as the other soldiers that will be featured on this blog, are remembered for their strength and devotion to their country. This blog does not aim to glorify the war- all wars are tragic and horrific periods of history- but to remember and pay tribute to those lost in these agonizing conflicts. It is to ensure that their stories are heard, and their lives are cherished.

Thursday 19 June 2014

Farming Fridays

Before tractors, farms needed some form of power to run mechanical equipment. Horsepower was the most versatile and plentiful form of power at the time. They required a little water and some hay for fuel and they’d be good to go. Generally, very simplistic and scalable, so if you needed more power you would simply get more horses.

This is a treadmill powered by a horse walking on an inclined conveyor. This unit would power something like a threshing machine which is used to separate the grain seed from the stalks. This treadmill is part of the extensive collection of antique farm equipment here at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum and was donated by Norman M. MacLeod.

A horse would be put in the middle of the treadmill and as you can see in the photograph, the wooden treads on the conveyor where the horse walks are clearly well-worn. As the horse walks, a wheel on the side would move and a system of belts and pulleys attached the treadmill to the specific machine the farmer wanted to run. There were a few different forms of treadmills, one which the horse would be walking flat, and another like our treadmill shown in the photograph where the horse would walk on in incline in order to utilize both the pulling power and the weight of the horse which would increase efficiency. Once steam engines and tractors were developed, horse treadmills were no longer used, although the importance of the quantitative unit “horsepower” came to be developed and is still used today.

Thursday 12 June 2014

Farming Fridays!

As our main mission is to preserve the early settlement of Glengarry County and share it with the community, we are introducing a weekly post which will feature many of the unique agricultural artifacts from our collection here at the museum. To start things off we will share some history of our Campbell barn which houses the museum’s large collection of tools.

            Although the date that the Campbell barn was constructed is unknown, it is estimated that the barn was built shortly after 1844 when the lot it was originally on was handed over from Crown land to Mr. John Campbell. This barn was used to house the Campbell’s livestock. The Campbell farm was primarily a dairy farm so inside you will find many of the tools that would have been used on a dairy farm. The Campbell farm, including the barn, remained in the possession of the Campbell family for 90 years. When Hwy.417 was going to be built in 1962 it was saved from destruction and donated to the museum by Leslie Clark.

Saturday 7 June 2014

Glengarrians & The Great War

Pte. John Archibald MacDonald

Our first blog post features Pte. John Archibald MacDonald. Mr. MacDonald was born to Mrs. And Mr. Archie MacDonald who lived on Lot 27 in the 3rd Concession of Kenyon Township. He was the brother of Mrs. Annie MacDonald Langstaff- the first woman to graduate from the McGill Faculty of Law. Pte. J. A. MacDonald was killed in action in 1917. This portrait was taken in Alexandria around 1915.

There is memorabilia of Pte. John Archibald MacDonald on display at the museum as part of our “Glengarrians and the Great War” exhibit.  This includes his commemorative medals, pocket knife and memorial plaque- also known as a “Dead Man’s Penny.” These plaques looked similar to a Canadian penny, which is how they earned their nickname, and were issued to the next-of-kin of all British and Empire service personnel who were killed as a result of the war. They were graciously donated to the museum by Sister Clair MacDonald.