We would like to pass along our association's 14th Christmas greeting to all of our club members and their families. We hope that you enjoy the holiday season and that everyone has a healthy and happy 2019. Our tractor club's activities have wrapped up for the 2018 season. A lot of things happened over the past year and we hope for the same in 2019. With the future at the Bremner site over the next few years still in the planning stages, we are a bit unsure of what lies in store for our club but we are always ready to go no matter what direction things move in. Read along and see what kinds of things have taken place since our pull and show last August.
General Meetings in 2019 - As usual, we will be holding our monthly general meetings at the Ardrossan Memorial Hall on the third Wednesday of every month from March until October. The first 2019 meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 20 at 7:15 PM. Our annual general meeting will be held the next month on April 17 when we will vote in a new executive. Meetings are open to visitors and guests and we welcome new members to come on board and be part of the action. Sometimes our own current members are our best recruiters to encourage newbies to join up. Thanks to the director group for planning and organizing our 2018 meetings, everyone that shows up always enjoys the visiting and discussions that we have. Sometimes we forget that all of that preparation takes time and organizational skills.
Our Last 2018 General Meeting (October 17) - We held our last general meeting of 2018 at the Ardrossan Hall on October 17th. Joel Gould (from the county's Transportation and Agricultural Services) along with Ward 5 councilor Paul Smith, presented a couple of proposed site plans for Bremner's new Multi-Purpose Ag Facility which is planned for the 270 acres that is now the "Bremner Site." That 270 acres includes the original Bremner site which we have used over the past number of years. Information on the additional land purchase was sent out in an earlier newsletter this past season. We continue to meet with the county officials involved with the planning so at this time, there is nothing set in stone as to just what property will be allocated to our club and for our activities. As we move through 2019, things will become clearer and more definite and we will keep our members informed. Hopefully we will still be part of the overall plan and will be able to continue with our tractor pulling and vintage farming activities.
Membership - At this time, we have 82 regular members (including two junior members), plus an additional 28 life-timers and 9 honorary members. Your current membership officially expires at the end of March, 2019. Renewals for the 2019/20 season will start up again in the spring and we expect the cost to stay the same at $35.00. We are always looking for members who might consider a position on our executive so if you are interested in joining up, that means an addition meeting on the first Tuesday of the month from March until November at County Hall in Sherwood Park. Contact any of the current leadership group to express your interest in joining up. Our membership has stayed pretty much the same since the August tractor pull and show with only a single new member being added to the roster. Trent Smith from Elk Island Sales is now an honorary member. Trent helped out with our grain loading this fall by providing the tractor power necessary to get the job done and he looks forward to supporting our activities as we move along.
Our Next School Tractor Project - We have purchased a 1950 Ford 8N which will be used for our next tractor refurbishing project at Ardrossan High School. Val Shillinglaw currently has the tractor at his acreage and is doing a variety of minor mechanical repairs on it (as well as removing a front end loader which we will try to sell). The tractor will be dropped off at the school after Christmas sometime and the second-term shop students will freshen it up along with the help of their teacher Mitch Bell and our club member Marc Normandeau. We still have the Farmall A project that they finished up for us in the spring of 2018, we had it on display at our 2018 August pull. We are still deciding what we will do with the Farmall, we might keep the 8N for our own use at Bremner if things work out for our access to the property and if we have some farming land available over the next few years.
A Brief History of the Bremner Mansion - Bremner House (or as many call it, the "Bremner Mansion") was built in 1912 on what we call the Bremner Farm. This historic residence is named after the original owner, James Charles Chatterton Bremner, who came to Canada in 1885 from Scotland at the suggestion of family friend Archie Boag. Archie had moved to Canada in 1882. It is rumoured that Charlie Bremner was a "remittance man" which might raise some eyebrows considering the reputation carried by those individuals back in the day. By October of that year, Bremner purchased a property adjacent to Boag and moved into a new house in 1886 on the current Bremner farm site. Charlie’s holdings and financial wealth steadily grew over the years and he married Edith Fielders. The couple had no children. Some believe that the original residence burned down and in 1912, the Bremners constructed the current grand residence we see today which has an area in excess of 5000 square feet.
Charlie died in 1928, some suggest by suicide in one of the upstairs bedrooms. The house and property was then purchased by William Schroter who raised a large family there and ran a successful farm into the 1970's. William's son Alex and his wife Joan and family then moved onto the property. They built a smaller bungalow near the mansion in the mid-70's and lived in it for a number of years. The mansion itself was rented out at times and one story says that marijuana was grown somewhere on the third floor. The Schroters lived there until 1988 when it was sold to current SVTA member Sten Nielsen and his wife Kirsten who were recent arrivals from Denmark. Sten and Kirsten raised their four children in the house and also established a successful tree farm (JN Trees) and raised some cattle as well. They lived there until selling it to the county in 2004. Some of our long-time members will remember us having a field trip tour of the mansion and yard shortly after our incorporation in 2005.
Strathcona County purchased the house and farm site with the intention of turning it into public facility that, along with its land and buildings, would be used to interpret the agricultural legacy of the county. In 2009, the property was established as a Municipal Historic Resource. That year, the restoration of the house began with the reconstruction of the large veranda. The building was found to be in excellent structural condition, although some of its original features had been replaced, such as the upper windows and the cedar shingle siding. In 2012, the exterior restoration continued with the rebuilding of the original second floor balcony, in addition to re-roofing with cedar shingles and the restoration of the brick masonry. A great deal of the house's original features remain and the restoration work will continue and eventually be completed over the coming years. At this time, the county showcases the mansion during our August tractor pull when they provide tours for those attending our show. One of the stops on the county's annual "Christmas in the Heartland" weekend is the Bremner mansion and the surrounding property. Our club participates in this Christmas event when we offer an inside slide show of our club's Bremner activities and we also provide tractor-pulled wagon rides outside for visitors.
Farming at Bremner 2018 SVTA - As we reported in the last newsletter after the pull weekend, our hay crops this year didn't amount to a whole lot. Bad weather conditions were to blame for the most part along with some of the land needs to be refurbished for new seeding. Hopefully, things will improve next year. Once we moved into September, our farm group obtained two smaller grain bins from a friend of George Schmidt. Leo Bilodeau built two new bin floors similar to the two he built last year for our two larger bins already on site. George arranged to transport the bins to the Bremner site through his contacts at Encore Trucking and they placed the new bins onto the floors. The bins were then fastened down and the bottom perimeters sealed with tar.
Grain harvesting was interrupted several times through late September and into October with bad weather. The rain was bad enough but snow also showed up which put us behind schedule. When all the dust had settled, we harvested a total of about 3000 bushels of feed grade barley and around 400 bushels of oats. The barley was binned and then loaded and trucked out in late October while Leo Bilodeau moved the oats in bags to his farm for storage and later to be sold for feed. Before pull weekend we used Leo's binder to bundle enough oats to load onto our hay wagon and put into storage for threshing at next year's pull.
Most of the barley straw from this year's harvesting was baled using our club's John Deere 24T baler. Over 1700 small square bales resulted from our efforts and we sold a lot of it. Some remaining barley straw was square and round-baled by local farmer John Brown for his own use. John also square-baled the oat straw. All in all, it was a successful farming season for our grain crops and this is our biggest source of annual income for our association. A big thank-you goes out to Leo and all of his farm crop helpers. As usual, we could not get any of this done without your help.
John Deere's New Generation of Power - In the fall of 1959, John Deere shocked the tractor world when it introduced the huge Model 8010. With a six-cylinder diesel motor purchased by Deere from General Motors, the twenty-thousand pound articulated 8010 produced at least 150 horsepower at the drawbar and could pull eight plows at seven miles per hour. That was three times the number of cylinders in any previous Deere tractor and more than double the horsepower. At more than $30,000, it was almost six-times more expensive than any previous model, and probably less than 100 of the new series sold. Almost the whole lineup were returned to the factory to correct transmission problems and were rebadged as 8020's. Some say only one original 8010 is still in a collection somewhere. Whatever the details of these new models, it signaled a new beginning for Deere.
In 1960, Deere heralded the new decade with a new series, all with either four or six cylinder engines. The 2010 with 39 HP and the 4010 with 72 HP were the first models out. Then, in 1961, the 3010 was marketed with 51 HP and the 1010 with 30 HP. Our club's loader tractor at Bremner is a 3010 gas. All of these models were priced at about the same level as their predecessors and so were very attractive to buyers. For instance, at the bottom of the line, both the old Model 330 and the new 1010 both cost around $2,200. But the horsepower went up from 22 to 30 for the same dollars. All of these models had four-cylinder engines except for the 4010 with a six. But even its 72 HP engine wasn't enough for large western wheat farmers. So, in 1963, John Deere rounded out the line with the 5010. It had 106 HP compared the 8020's 150 HP, but it cost considerably less at just under $11,000.
Year End Appreciation Supper Event (October 20) - We held our annual year-end appreciation supper and silent auction at the Partridge Hill Hall on the evening of Saturday, October 20. Things kicked off in late afternoon and we were treated to another catered buffet supper with roast beef, fried chicken and all the trimmings. Our annual silent auction fundraiser was held at the same time and we raised almost half of the cost of providing the supper for our club members and their spouses. After the silent auction bids were closed off and the money collected for that, everyone enjoyed visiting for the remainder of the evening along with dancing to the Al Cummings Band. Some of our members showed us that they still have a lot of energy in those old bodies.
During the evening, we presented Elmer Prochnau and his wife Marg with an appreciation plaque for Elmer's efforts over the years in bringing out his Oil Pull Rumley 20-35 tractor and threshing rig to our pull weekend for the threshing demonstrations. This year his tractor was under repair but that has been finished up and we expect to see it in action next year again. A big thank you goes out to the supper's organizing committee for putting on another great year-end event.
Lakeland College Tour (October 25) - A group of fourteen individuals from our club took part in a field trip to Lakeland College in Vermillion on the afternoon of Thursday, October 25. Lakeland College has been around for 105 years and was started up in 1913 as the Vermillion Agricultural College. The name change to Lakeland happened in 1975. It now has two campus locations, one in Vermillion and the other in Lloydminster. The Vermillion site where we visited has 2000 students registered with 500 of them living on campus. A number of our club members are graduates of Lakeland and one of our junior members is currently enrolled as a student. Ryan Hood is in his second year of Lakeland's power engineering program.
We toured the trades shops which included heavy duty mechanics, automotive mechanics, electrical and electronic trades, carpentry, interior design and welding. From there we visited the new animal research center where students enrolled in the veterinarian technical assistants program learn their trade. The new state-of-the-art dairy facility was also included along with some of Lakeland's field crops on their 2000 plus acres of farm land. Lakeland staff member Shauna Zach was our guide and she provided a great presentation about both Lakeland campus sites. Thanks to all for showing up and to the Lakeland staff who did such a great job in hosting our club members.
Christmas in the Heartland (Sunday, November 25) - Every year, the Josephburg Ag Society organizes their annual Christmas in the Heartland event on Grey Cup weekend. There were eight different locations involved throughout Strathcona County over the two days this year and visitors dropped by and enjoyed whatever activities were provided. The Bremner mansion and yard was one of the destinations involved on the Sunday afternoon. We were one of over a dozen local clubs and organizations involved this year at the Bremner site.
Club member Rae MacMillan always takes on the lion's share of what we are involved with for this annual event. He showed up with a couple of his tractors, one for a Christmas light display in the yard and the other to provide pulling power to haul the Northrup Express wagon and passengers around the site. Some visitors were seeing the mansion and the farm area for the very first time. Others helping Rae included Al Rice, Val Shillinglaw, Ken Tomkins, Mike Ballash and Wayne Sloat. Wayne always provides an interesting video presentation inside the mansion which is great exposure for our club and shows all the things we are involved with out at Bremner. Thanks to Rae and all of his helpers who showed up to make the day enjoyable for all.
Annual SVTA Christmas Donations - Every Christmas season, our club donates a total of $1000 to four charitable groups in and around Strathcona County. This year the four $250 Christmas gifts will be sent to The Robin Hood Association, A Safe Place, Santa’s Anonymous, and the Strathcona Food Bank. We feel that we are a lucky group and are able to fund raise through all of the volunteer hours that our club members put into our efforts. As a result, sharing some of this with other groups is a responsibility that we feel we can take on and easily afford at Christmas time each year. Thanks to all of our club members that enable us to be in this position.
Well, that's the tractor club news until things get rolling again in the spring of 2019. We look forward to seeing you out at our meetings and events. Until then, remember these words of wisdom: "You can make a small fortune in farming ... provided you start with a large one".
Enjoy the holiday season, drive carefully and we'll be seeing all of you next spring when things get rolling again.