Borden Threshermen bringing history to life
In this issueEngage - Volume 3, Issue 2 Spring 2013
Borden’s annual Threshing Day, this year held in conjunction with Culture Days, offers guests an opportunity to leave their cars behind and ride a wagon into the past.
The Borden and District Threshermen’s club has been holding the event on the last Saturday in September for the past 26 years. Stew Walton, who has been a member of the club for 13 years explains, “Cyril Golding founded it because he wanted to preserve a way of life from the past.” many of the members are farmers and retired farmers.
The group demonstrates agricultural methods of the past, but likes to keep the event fresh and interesting. “It’s nice to have something new or different every year,” says Walton. In 2012, the group registered the event with Culture Days and received a grant allowing them to bring in a steam engine from the Western Development museum. It was a highlight for organizers and guests. The group owns their own threshing machine and the land that was donated by John Newbold, a 99 year-old who rode in a horse drawn buggy in last summer’s Threshing Day parade.
Cyril Saunders, current chairman, says, "I think our event is unique in that spectators can interact with the demos.” The grounds offer wood outhouses; a cook cart from the 1920’s providing homemade bread and borscht, and old-time fiddle music. More than 400 people signed the registration log in 2012. The event draws families, seniors, horse people and seemingly more urban dwellers than rural. “There aren’t many places you can take your whole family and participate in a celebration like this for free,” says Walton. 4-H members on horseback lead guests to their parking spots and women in period costumes welcome them to the event.
Saunders explained a little more about the era when family farms were much smaller. “Different farms had threshing outfits and went around helping other farms. By the 1930s, most had their own equipment as combines took over from threshing machines,” he says. “Most of the old equipment was sold as scrap in the 1940s for the war effort so there are not as many pieces from that time.”
There are threshing demonstrations, horse competitions, equipment displays, races and plenty of time for stories. “I just missed that era. I was too young. There is a certain draw for people who lived through it. They love the horses and to reminisce. Modern machinery has made many tasks easier but guests still enjoy the chance to watch and try their hand at the old methods. “We always have more pitchforks than volunteers,” adds Saunders encouraging anyone interested to join them in September.