The Glengarry Pioneer Museum in Dunvegan is full of implements that shed some insight into the lives and challenges of the settlers.
Above is a Jamieson Stoning Machine. You can’t miss this extravagant piece of farm equipment as you are meandering through the museum grounds. Being one of the biggest artifacts at the museum, it is also one of the more remarkable pieces in the agriculture collection because of the outstanding convenience it provided for many early farmers.
In order for the land to be practical for growing crops, farmers 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.
This McCormick Deering cream sepa
rator 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 centre of the gear (this one’s missing it); 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.
(Above) The Fanning Mill from the late 1800s became a very important piece of machinery for early farmers. It removed 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. 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.
(Above) The saw: 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 was very useful tool for early farmers in the area was 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 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.
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. A coal oil lamp was used to heat water, circulating by convection through pipes around the perimeter of the incubator.