A sunny Harvest Festival at GPM
There have been unlucky years with weather on Harvest Festival weekend but not last Sunday when 1,000 people enjoyed a spectacular sunny day on the grounds of Dunvegan’s Glengarry Pioneer Museum, roaming through displays and vendors and watching demonstrations of pioneer and heritage farm life.
Joan Pelzer of Regina was visiting with her brother, Kenneth Oma, who lives on the 4th of Kenyon and says that from now on she intends to time her visits to coincide with the festival.
“I didn’t even know it existed,” said Mrs. Pelzer, pausing outside the Roger Hamelin blacksmith shop where the rhythm of smith Patrick Taylor’s hammer striking the anvil added to the general ambiance.
Mrs. Pelzer was joined by her niece Laurie and her husband Glenn Hay from Lochiel with their two boys. “It’s so unexpected and wonderful and there is so much to see,” she marvelled.
In fact, there was so much going on everywhere you looked that festival-goers needed to keep an ear out for volunteer town crier Wes Libbey to keep pace.
There were 15 old time rural life demonstrations and 25 heritage artisans on site including leatherworker Lynn Macnab in period dress surrounded by her furs and skins and explaining skinning and tanning to the constant crowd around her display.
Back to town crier town crier Wes Libbey, a retired engineer and past president of the S,D&G Historical Society—when Mr Libbey wasn’t ringing his bell and calling out events, he was drawn to the agricultural demonstrations where the largest assortment of threshers, steam engines and antique gas tractors the festival has ever presented let people see the past in motion.
Tom Quinnelle from Huntington, Quebec was among the Old Engine types demonstrating his vintage Case M model 45 steam engine, its shrill whistle blowing when a blast of steam fired up through the smokestack. The old Case was powering a vintage Ferguson thresher that Gord Hadley from Vankleek Hill found in pieces in the woods outside St. Elmo and restored after 700 hours of work.
Mr. Hadley pointed to a booth nearby where a display explained the history of the Ferguson Thresher Company of Maxville.
Members of the Ferguson family – including his grandson and great-grandson – were on hand to answer questions about James Ferguson, the brilliant St. Elmo farmer who built his first thresher in 1874. Mr. Ferguson sat around thrashing his grain with a heavy hand flail by inventing a revolutionary device powered by horses that would thrash up to 1,000 bushels a day.
His threshers were soon in demand and he built a factory on Marlborough Street in Maxville that built among the best grain separators of the day until 1954 and supplied the Canadian Department of Agriculture.
The original scale model of the first Ferguson, built in 1881, was on display, a beautiful item in mint condition still in the Ferguson family. The toy-like model was used to apply for machine’s original patent.
There was food and live music, a harvest market table, rare breeds farm animals, a native people’s teepee and interpretive area, children’s activities, sheep shearing, and so many other sights that it took the sound of far away bagpipes and the Quigley Highlanders Pipes and Drums to alert people that the horse parade was about to begin.
Horse parade organizers Margaret MacMillan and her daughter Sarah Dalby did a splendid job lining up the entries, and the beautiful carriages and shiny-coated horses and ponies made for a stunning sight. There was even a beautiful milkwhite 5 1/2-month-old rare breeds Park calf named Winny, as tame as a pet dog, who ended up calmly leading her owner, Elwood Quinn from Rare Breeds Canada, the length of the parade.
There were so many memorable entries among the 20-some carriages and many outriders, but one carriage received special mention from the announcer. Roland Massie at the reins of Gurty, an 18 year-old black Standardbred, got a cheer from the crowd when it was announced that the day before was his 90th birthday. His antique buggy was a four-wheeler built in Alexandria at the Munro & McIntosh Carriage Company.
A stunning early fall day and the efforts of no fewer than 175 volunteers, artisans, demonstrators and parade participants, including members of the Maxville Fire Department on parking detail, insured that this year’s 18th annual Glengarry Pioneer Museum was among the best in its history.
HARVEST FESTIVAL: Here are some scenes from the Harvest Fall Festival, which took place at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum in Dunvegan on Sunday. Above, Tom Quinnelle of Huntington, Qc, stands at the controls of his vintage Case M model 45 steam engine...