Chapter: What We Can't Live Without

1916 Case steam tractor

"A time-share that paid off!"
1916 Case steam tractor 1916 Case tractor driver Bill


Farming has always been a challenging career and this was especially true for the first European settlers on the prairie. Any method to help increase crop yields and reduce labour was welcome.

In the late 1880s, steam driven ploughs and threshing machines started to appear. A steam powered threshing machine dramatically reduced the time needed for harvesting.

Steam traction engines, however, were very costly and many farmers could not afford to purchase one. Instead threshing rings were often formed. A ring would include many different farmers who pooled their money to purchase a tractor which would be time shared. There were also threshing contractors who would travel from farm to farm hiring out their equipment.

This particular model of steam tractor would have been built near the end of an era. After the First World War internal combustion tractors were becoming common and by the 1920s steam tractors were rarely seen on the prairies. This iron-workhorse is now used by the museum as their "mascot". It features prominently at the Pembina Threshermen's Reunion in Winkler, and the Morden Corn & Apple festival in Morden.