SD&G -- "We've had so much enjoyment from mother's diary," says 80-year-old Coleman MacDonald of Williamstown.
Daphne MacDonald's Aug. 1, 1936 entry chronicles a milestone for North American farmers in the 1930s: Grand day! Wilfred and Bob made a deal for a new tractor with rubber tires.
Wilfred, Coleman's late father, bought the 1936 McCormick-Deering W-30 from Bob "The Widow" MacDonald, the local International equipment dealer. "He never married, "explains Coleman of the common Glengarry style of nomenclature. "But they called him that anyway."
Daphne's diary also helps validate what is largely held to be true -- it was the first rubber-tired tractor in Eastern Ontario. The old steel-wheeled tractors had good traction but were slow and could do a lot of damage to paved roads. It didn't take long for them to be replaced by rubber-tired tractors.
The tractor was bought for an astounding $1,408, but was a lot smoother to ride, says Coleman, and also considerably faster. That fall, Wilfred drove the tractor to the International Plowing Match on the farm of D.L. MacLennan on the South Branch Road north of Cornwall -- the first IPM held in the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry. According to the Cornwall Standard Freeholder, Wilfred won $10 for his 4th place finish in Class 16 on Oct. 8, 1936. It's also the family's understanding that the paper was published twice a week at that time and cost three cents.
The state-of-the-art machine saved valuable time and Wilfred took up custom work, filling silos and thrashing crops for neighbours as a means to pay for the new acquisition, says Coleman.
The simple no-frills tractor had a crank starter and a lever to apply the brakes. "No lights, no speedometer, no hydraulics and no GPS," says Coleman, who still has the purchase order and owner's manual. And he still appreciates the simplicity of the machine, and how readily available and easy to replace the parts were.
The hardworking little tractor was in regular use right up to the mid-1970s on Lansingdale Farms. Coleman reckons the last time he drove the McCormick, before it was restored earlier this year, was at the Williamstown Bicentennial Parade in 1984. A United Empire Loyalist farm, Lansingdale was established in 1784 and is still farmed by the MacDonald family.
His family say he was like a kid with a new toy this past June when he took the newly-restored 1936 McCormick-Deering W30 for a test drive down Loyalist Road.
The tractor will be on display at the 2015 SDG International Plowing Match and Rural Expo (IPM) to be held in Finch, Sept. 22-26.