From the first agricultural efforts in 1754, to the time when homesteaders started cultivating the land, agriculture has played a vital role in Melfort and area. At the start of the century the most advanced technology barely included the basics of today. Grain farming is the foundation of Melfort and surrounding area. However, the land had to be cleared before grain farming could happen as the Melfort area was originally parkland with bluffs of trees and open meadows. Early farmers christened this land with their blood, sweat, and tears to create the farmland we know today. In 1753, the first agricultural effort in Western Canada has been said to have been made by French explorers. There is some dispute among scholars about this, but tradition says that as an experiment, Captain Louis Luc de la Corne and his men seeded a few acres of land 25 miles north of Melfort (Fort la Corne). They were surprised when the crop took, previously believing the land was only good for fur trading. Farming was not an easy life for homesteaders like the Blakely family, who were kept very busy farming throughout most of the year. According to records their year consisted of the following; April 23, 1897- family started ploughing April 27, 1897- sowed wheat on the breaking and harrowed on the 28th May 1, 1897- ploughed more land, and harrowed the garden May 12, 1897- ploughing again and seeding oats May 14, 1897- finished the oats and planted potatoes May 17, 1897- put in the peas and harrowed them on the 18th July 5, 1897- bagged grain and crushed it on the 6th July 31st- August 3rd 1897- broke five acres of land September 21, 1897- stacked barley September 24, 1897- dug potatoes (50 to 55 bushels) September 28, 1897- stacked oats October 5, 1897- started threshing December 2 1897, began cleaning grain The first farming implements were quite simple. Sometimes a farmer would only have four large oxen, a walking plough and a wagon to complete his work. As the occupation of farming grew, so did the demand for better farming implements. The size of the fields increased with the advancement of machinery such as tractors and threshing machines. One of the developments that helped increase the sizes of farms was steam powered threshing equipment. Because of the size of the crops and the amount of work to be done, threshing was done by crews of approximately 20 that would travel from farm to farm. As implements became more advanced, grain farming became more widespread. In 1904 Melfort's first grain elevator and grist mill was built. By 1909, there were five elevators. These elevators were greatly needed because that year 1,000,000 bushels of grain shipped from Melfort. When the fifth elevator was constructed in 1909, it had a capacity of 32,000 bushels and could handle 3,600 bushels per hour. This elevator was the first co-operative venture in grain handling. It was said that "a farmer can drive his load in, have it cleaned and returned to his wagon while he breathes his horses and fills his pipe."
A truck, swather, and combines on a farm owned and operated by D.N. Jamieson and Bill Dickie
Our museum is home to a little over a hundred pieces of farm machinery and equipment, most of which was common in this area. They include tractors, ploughs, cultivators, drills, harrows, mowers, rakes, a hayloader, a manure spreader, a reaper, a binder, grain augers, threshing machines, swathers, combines, a corn seeder, a brush cutter, and a variety of other pieces of agricultural equipment. We also have garden seeders and cultivaters, a Sawyer-Massey road grader, a feed grinder, a scale for weighing hogs and other small animals, a scalding pot for hogs, wagons, a buggy, sleighs, a caboose/cutter, wind generators, a snowplane, a track vehicle for winter transport, a locally built snow blower, a home built "skidoo", a home built motor bike, and a wide variety of smaller pieces of equipment used by the town and by local blacksmiths.
OF GOLD
FIELDS
Melfort & District Museum 401 Melfort Street, Melfort SK 306 752 5870 melfort.museum2@sasktel.net melfort.museum@sasktel.net