A Maxville ‘marvel’
BUILT TO LAST: In the early 1900s, the Ferguson Thresher Co., of Maxville, founded by James and Donald Ferguson, was renowned for its mills. While the last machine rolled off the production line in 1954, many of the machines are still around. In 2015, in St-Albert, many Ferguson models were among the 111 threshers that helped set a world record for the most mils operating simultaneously. All-metal threshers were first produced in the early 1900s and gradually replaced wood-framed threshers. James Ferguson first began manufacturing agricultural implements and threshers in the 1870s. He built a new factory in 1928, which produced all-metal threshers until the company stopped producing threshers. The Ferguson “Marvel Grain Thrower” represents the shift in the early 20th Century to all-metal construction, and demonstrates the overlap of technologies as threshers remained in production while combine harvesters were becoming more popular. The first threshing machines were stationary. Powered by hand or treadmill, they increased the amount of grain a farmer could separate in a day. Wheeled threshing machines began to replace stationary threshers in the 1860s and further mechanized grain harvesting. Threshers were initially built of wood and powered by horse-powered windlasses; they were later built of steel and powered by steam traction engines and gas tractors. Threshers were in turn replaced through the 20th Century by combine harvesters, which merged harvesting and threshing operations in one machine.