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Of buildings lost and tractors found

County's Roblin's Mill at Black Creek Pioneer Village. D. C. McClure drawing

The old gentleman was standing by the great Corliss steam engine  at the Ameliasburg Museum a few years ago. I struck up a conversation with him and mentioned that it was too bad the 1842 Roblin Mill had been dismantled and carried off to the Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto.

“Best thing that ever happened to this community” he replied.  I was thunderstruck.

“Why would you say that,” I replied. “

“Because nobody appreciated it — until it was gone,”  he said.

Having watched the extended  agony of the 135 year old Methodist Episcopal Church over the past five weeks, perhaps there is a lesson here for all of us as we anticipate a town vacated by an important piece of our cultural history.  Maybe we might put our collective thinking caps to work before we lose more of our special places and become like every other Canadian town which has allowed its personal identity to vanish in a dump truck.

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First tractor the writer ever drove was a version of this 20's era Fordson. Donald McClure photo

Tractor buffs were delighted with more than 50 vintage models on display at this year's Picton Fair. Donald McClure photo

Tom Mills showed his 1949 orange Minneapolis Moline and the streamlined dark orange Case SO. Donald McClure photo

Among the venerable rarities on display at the Picton Fair was this 1926 Case A sporting its bald eagle trademark. Donald McClure photo

If you are any kind of a tractor buff the collection on display at this year’s Picton Fair was outstanding.  There were over 50 units on show ranging from such rarities as Keith Alders 1920 Home Built,  Alan Shantz 1926 Wallis,  the 1926 Case A from County Rd 10,  or Tom Mills enchanting 1945 streamlined Case SO, and his orange  1949 Minneapolis Moline.

Some of the restoration work on display was exceptional.

The first motorized field monster I ever drove was a late 20’s Fordson with cast iron wheels in front and steel lug wheels in back. She was owned by family friend Sven Ericson and I spent one glorious Saturday harrowing his two five acre gardens on Ellesmere Road near Victoria Rd in Agincourt.  That was before Bicks Pickle built their large vats across the road and before that great piece of Ontario farmland disappeared under sub divisions, gas stations and plazas.

One thing about the 20’s era Fordson. Some had the reputation flipping over backwards if the drawbar encountered excessive torque in the transmission. Drivers were cautioned to shut off throttle or bail out if the front end started to lift. Rumour had it that some didn’t make it.

To this day I cannot seem to pass an old tractor without getting out and snapping its picture.

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About the Author: He can tickle your funny bone or tug at your heart strings. County people may know him as a chronicler of everything that happens (or should happen) in the garden, but his interests stretch across the natural world. His unique sense of observation takes in a wide expanse of living and may even point out some truths about our own condition as managers of the world around us. With Loyalist antecedents in his family tree his roots go deep into the Ontario countryside.

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  1. Louisa says:

    Hi Don. I can’t find my old pic of me on grampa’s tractor…but still looking. It may be with the boxes of slides at my sisters. My goodness, slides…doesn’t that sound old.

  2. Donald says:

    Thank you Louisa:

    If your picture is available I would enjoy getting a copy so we could run it in our blog. Thank you for the memories!.

  3. Donald says:

    Thank you Terry:

    Enjoyed your reminiscences. I really think that it was a privilege to grow up
    in a rural setting where younger people where able to participate in responsible
    adult pastimes such as tractor driving– and many disciplines which would contribute to family welfare and prove practical in days to come. It also provided the younger person with a sense of accomplishment, responsibility and achievement and was a definite boost to self-confidence. Parents who encouraged such activities are to be commended.

  4. Louisa says:

    The moving of the Mill makes me think of the moving of the Fort Kente building, which I believe now sits and gets recognition at the Mariners Museum. I think it would have been vandalized beyond recognition if it was to stay in it’s location at Kente (Carrying Place).

    This article has brought back memories of my grandfather and his strong interest in and collection of tractors. There is a very special picture of me about 3 years old, sitting on a bouncy metal seat, beaming with some kind of child’s pride as I pose for the camera and turn the big wheel! Must dig that picture out. Thanks for the memories, Mr. McClure!

  5. Terry says:

    Fond memories indeed, Don. I earned my wheels on the seat of a Massey-Harris Pony at the age of 9 in 1953 and was custom baling hay with an Oliver 66 at the age of 12. I was taught to drive a tractor much the same way as kids back in our day was taught to swim – by being thrown off the dock. Only in this case, my dad plopped me on the seat of the MH Pony and set the tractor in motion on our driveway. Terrified, I took out the corner post and several of the steps of our milk stand, and was spiralling toward the Bay of Quinte before Dad hopped back on and took control.

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