The museum’s Threshing Bee awakens agricultural memories of the past

Gord Ross of the Sukanen Ship Pioneer Village and Museum talks about his participation in the organization’s annual Threshing Bee and the past memories he awakens.

Photos from the archives of the late Marjorie Russell/Thomas

Editor’s Note – The photos in this article are from my grandmother’s personal photo collection. Although they may have seemed like “silly pictures” to some at the time, the images my grandmother took to chronicle life just before and during the Depression years – they fit right into the theme Of the history.
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“It takes me back to when I was a kid,” Gord Ross, president of the Sukanen Ship Pioneer Village and Museum, told MJ Independent about his participation in the museum’s annual Threshing Bee.

Ross recalled when asked about his days on the farm and some of the reasons he was part of the annual threshing bee.

“We’re just trying to show what a crop was like and how it progressed over the years until what you see now when you’re driving down the highway and you see three-quarters of a million dollar combines and 45-foot headers,” he said. , adding “and how our pioneers harvested”.

The two-day event takes place Saturday, September 10 and Sunday, September 11 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Sukanen Ship Pioneer Village and Museum located about 10 minutes south of Moose Jaw on Highway 2. (See the end of the article for a full schedule of events.)

Ross said that’s all the difference between today’s world on big farms with the new, modernized equipment versus the old days.

“Can you imagine going out with a three and a half foot head and going out on a quarter section with a three and a half foot table on the combine? That’s just a bit more than most lawn mowers now .

A header is the part of the combine that cuts and delivers grain and straw to be threshed through the combine.

In the past, harvesting was labor intensive, which the thresher bee hopes to replicate and demonstrate to participants.

Ross said that in the past, you used a machine called a binder to cut and create sheaves of grain, and then “once you cut the bundles, you have to go out and stack them (put them in a pile). Then you have to go put them on a rack and throw them in the thresher. It was labor intensive.

Equipment in the museum’s volunteer-operated collection dates back to the early days of agriculture in what became Saskatchewan.

“We have equipment that probably dates back to the 1900s. The early 1900s. The mower we’re using didn’t even tie up the bundles. All he did was cut the crop and throw it into a semi-circle table and dump it in roughly sized bundles and then someone had to come behind and hand tie it.

The stationary baler was the same, requiring three to four people to power the machine and tie the bales with wire (hence the source of the term baler or baler wire).
“They worked hard,” he said when asked what farming was like in the past.

The threshing bee not only tries to demonstrate how agriculture was practiced in the past, but also at the same time to show the effort that the pioneers or just a generation or two later had to put into the farms of the area.

This is a common theme at the private museum. It’s a time capsule into the area’s past and what life was like on farms and small rural communities.

“Each little village had a store and a lift, a blacksmith shop, a church and the school, it was always grades one through eight in a one-room schoolhouse. And often the teacher was a boarder with one of the close families that had children there… that’s what we’re trying to recreate and salvage (at the museum).

For those coming to bee-threshing, all 41 buildings currently on the museum site will be open to get out and explore. It’s all part of the $10 adult admission.

In addition to the existing buildings, the Volman building will officially open at 12:45 p.m. on September 11.

Although the demonstration is about the past and many people whose families come from farms may have forgotten their rural roots, Ross said the thresher bee is something that has great attraction.

“If you’ve never been there, I think you’ll find it interesting.”

When asked if he had seen or heard of harvesting with stakes and threshing as a child, Ross chuckled, “I actually experienced it all. I rolled over the filing cabinet when I was a kid.
“I hated the job and here I am doing it again (bee-threshing).”

Ross said that despite the hard work, he has fond memories of those childhood days.

One of his memories was of his grandfather and father throwing the sheaves into the attic of the hoop-shaped barn for the animals during the winter. When his dad got too old to do that, Ross remembered that on his way home from school he had to go up to the hayloft, get the sheaves, and pile them up.

When asked if there was a choice at the time to work or not work on the farm, he replied “oh no, you worked”.

He invites everyone to participate in the event, even if you or your generation were not on the farm to learn what is happening and how it relates to the development of Saskatchewan is important to know.

September 10

  • Doors open 8:00-10:00 for pancake breakfast for $8.
  • Opening of the buildings and registration for the parade of tractors and trucks at 10 a.m.
  • The tractor parade starts at 11 a.m.
  • Awards Ceremony for Longtime Members at 12:45 a.m.
  • Parade of Trucks and Cars 1 p.m.
  • Start of field demonstrations between 2 p.m. and 2:20 p.m.
  • Bee Threshing 3 p.m.
  • Antique tractor pull starts at 4 p.m.

September 11th

  • Doors open 8:00-10:00 for pancake breakfast for $8.
  • Buildings open at 10 a.m.
  • Parade of tractors at 10 a.m.
  • Religious service 11 a.m.
  • Inauguration of the new Volman Building 00:45
  • Parade trucks and cars 1:15 p.m.
  • Start of field demonstrations between 2 p.m. and 2:20 p.m.
  • Bee Threshing 3 p.m.
  • Antique tractor pull starts at 4 p.m.

For those without transportation, you can take the Tourism Moose Jaw Trolley which runs hourly starting at 10:30 a.m. with the last return at 4:30 p.m. The trolley accepts donations for the ride.

For those driving, the privately funded museum is located about 10 minutes south of Moose Jaw on Highway #2

The volunteer-run museum is self-funded and receives no government funding, so the annual bee thresher is its main fundraiser to sustain and keep the unique local museum open.

For more information see the Museum’s Facebook page.

About Keneth T. Graves

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