Thanks to a newly printed book on the history of farm equipment dealers, released by the West Prince Tired Iron Antique Club, enthusiasts can find themselves with some new reading material.
Research and writing on the topic began in December 2014 with a completion date of June, said Debbie Horne who was hired to do the work.
Weldon Rennie, Claude Dorgan, and Gordon Ramsay, of the Tired Iron Club, headed the project, after concerns that the history was being lost, she said.
Ms Horne explained that after Second World War, in the 1940s, everybody was upgrading their farms and the equipment used was becoming more sophisticated. Every community had a small dealership at the time where all the farmers went to buy their tractors.
This 150-or-so-page book, is a compilation of biographies of the people who used to deal in farm equipment, sprinkled with stories from people in the community who still remember the horse and plow days, said Ms Horne.
Mr Rennie said he had many dealers’ names to help start off the research, and from there Ms Horne did the digging.
“She did a terrific job.” It was a lot of work for her, and a learning experience for both her and the dealers’ families, said Mr Rennie.
Despite the focus on farm equipment, it is primarily about the people, she said. Based on family memories and old photos, stories of days-gone-by come to life. This project is a way to give credit to those who played such a significant role in the community. They were the ones who brought in modernized farming by bringing in and investing in new machinery, not knowing if anyone would buy the pieces, Ms Horne said.
“It was a big risk.”
People remember their first tractor or their grandfather’s first tractor. In those days, these were memorable moments.
“Having a new piece of equipment coming into their yards was impressive,” said Ms Horne.
She explained that many collectors know the history of where the machines came from, and some even know the number of previous owners and who they were.
The club is hoping this book is something other clubs might want to emulate in central and eastern PEI antique tractor clubs, to give an Island-wide history on farm equipment dealers.
There are human-interest stories included such as the story of a man whose father purchased his first tractor in the 1940s. Years later the family found it in a community in a state of dilapidation. They bought it back, fixed it up, and it now remains the owner’s prized possession.
Skills PEI provided the funding, said Ms Horne of the book. Once she started to see success come out of her research it became rewarding. The time restraint was an additional challenge, she said.
There are gaps in information and if they continued to dig deeper, more details would be unearthed.
“It is as comprehensive as we could be for time and funding,” said Ms Horne.
It was not a money-making venture, she pointed out. Rather, there was an urgency to record and collect this information before it became lost.
Mr Rennie said interest in the book is high, with 40 copies sold within a couple of days. The club has roughly 100 members from all over the Island, the Maritimes and some from Ontario, he said. Most members own old equipment, fix them up and take them to shows, said Mr Rennie.
The recently launched book, Prince County Farm Equipment Dealers Past and Present, can be purchased for $40, with 100 copies in print at this time. If anyone is interested they can contact Weldon Rennie at 853-2667 or 853-7948 or purchase one during the annual tractor run on September 12.