The Weston Series - The very First Massey Tractors
Click on the this link MHweston to read a pdf file on the early Weston series of tractors created by scanning 6 pages from the August 2012 edition of ANTIQUE POWER magazine.
Memories of when Massey was King
by Heather Ibbotson and Vincent Ball, The Brantford Expositor, March 1, 2013
BRANTFORD, ON. - Annual Christmas parties for Massey Ferguson families were a highly anticipated event in the early 1960s, yet those parties always came with a tinge of disappointment for Frieda Hannam and her sisters.
"Every year we'd go with our mother because my dad - Robert Stirling - would say his boss - Mr. Smeaton - said he had to work," Hannam said. "We were driven to the party in style by Mr. Boudreau in his fancy Cadillac.
We'd walk into the huge double gym at Pauline Johnson and stacked from floor to ceiling everywhere were what seemed like thousands of presents." She and her sisters always sat on the top of the bleachers at the end so they had a great view of the highly anticipated arrival of Santa. He had the shiniest black boots and the greatest ho, ho, ho for everyone to hear, Hannam said. It was the same routine every year and then, one Christmas, everything changed.
"I sat on Santa's lap once again telling him I'd been a good girl and what I'd hope Santa could bring me that year," Hannam said. "I noticed Santa had a cut on his finger just where my dad had one. "Oh what delight, my heart was joyful."
Her dad, of course, was Santa. Years of disappointment gone, I was left to this day with a proud heart that my dad was and is my special Santa and was for all the Massey children. Many years have passed since Hannam or anyone else attended a Massey Christmas party. Massey Combine Corp., the last of the farm implement companies that at one time dominated Brantford's industrial landscape, went into receivership 25 years ago on March 4, 1988.
To remember the occasion The Expositor has put together a three-part series examining the history of Massey, the bankruptcy of the corporation, and how the city has transformed itself into a university and college town in its wake. The series will include the personal reflections and memories of people who either worked or were the children of people who worked at Massey - people like Todd Outerson, whose father Doug worked there for 25 years. "He worked his way up through the marketing department and was at both the Verity Works location on Greenwich Street and at the Park Road North (now Wayne Gretzky Parkway) location," Outerson said in an e-mail sent to The Expositor.
"Massey's had a big impact on our household: trips, my post-secondary education, Christmas and birthday gifts." He also remembers his dad heading to Des Moines, Iowa, where Massey had an office. "I know how proud my dad is of his time spent at Massey Ferguson and I sure am proud of him, too."
Memories of Massey Come Rolling In
(The second article in the series from The Expositor)
Heys was staying at a farm bed and breakfast in northern Iceland when she
saw a sight worthy of a photograph.
It was a landscape photo of horses near an outbuilding of a farm settled amongst some rolling green hills. The picture was taken last June but it came to mind on Saturday when Heys was reading The Expositor online and noticed a story about the upcoming series on Massey Combines Corp. in Brantford.
Massey's glory days
(The third article in the series)
It has been 25 years
since Massey Combines Corp., a company that employed generations of
Brantford families, went into receivership.
In this special three-part series, Expositor reporters Vincent Ball and Heather Ibbotson relate the history of the company in Brantford, explore some of the reasons behind its closing and examine how the community has changed over the past 25 years. Today's story examines the company's history.
They were wonderful days for a veteran worker. Days when a man felt like he belonged because his experience and effort were valued. "The work has to be done now." William "Yorky" Jordan said to a reporter. "Not next year or the year after that. The need is right this very minute. They pensioned me off after 32 years and treated me right royal. I went away for a year. Went up to Georgian Bay. Then they sent for me to come back."
That sort of treatment, Jordan explained, was like a tonic for an old man. Those were the comments Jordan made to famed Canadian reporter Gordon Sinclair, who had come to speak to him about his family and its connection to Massey-Harris. The headline on the subsequent story was, "116 years in one plant: Record of the Jordan family."
The story included pictures of Jordan, William (Billy) Jr. and a Mrs. George Jordan, who worked at Massey-Harris during the war.
"One hundred and sixteen years in one plant. That's a long time," said Hilda Dawson, 89, of Brantford, showing the clipping of the Sinclair article to an Expositor reporter. "But there were a lot of families in Brantford like that."Yorky was her grandfather, Mrs. George Jordan was her mother and Jordan Jr. was an uncle. Her father, George, also worked at the plant. At the time, her father, her grandfather and her uncle had a combined 95 years at Massey-Harris. The remaining years were split among other family members.
Dawson recalled the article and the visit by Sinclair after reading a brief in The Expositor just over a week ago. This year - March 4 to be exact - marks the 25th anniversary of the closing of the Massey Combines Corp. plant located on Henry Street and Wayne Gretzky Parkway - then known as Park Road North.
The company was forced into receivership and owed creditors an estimated $290 million. In addition to putting an estimated 2,500 people out of work, the closing and how it was handled were bitter pills for the community to swallow. It also marked the end of an era - an era in which generations of families could work for one company, make a good wage and raise a family. It was a glorious era, a golden age of industry, and Brantford was the centre of it.
The community's connection to the farm machinery business dates back to 1872 when Alanson Harris moved his farm implement manufacturing shop to Brantford. Harris had originally opened his shop in Beamsville, Ont., in 1857.
A decade earlier, Daniel Massey opened a blacksmith and farm implement shop in Newcastle, Ont., In 1867, Massey started exporting products overseas with the first shipment of reapers and mowers being shipped to Germany.
Massey moved his company to Toronto in 1879 and several years later - in 1891 - A. Harris, Son and Company Ltd. merged with Massey Manufacturing to form Massey-Harris. The new company's headquarters were in Toronto. The merger spawned decades of innovation and growth which included manufacturing plants in Europe, as well as in North America.
In 1911, the company moved into the United States farm machinery market. It also purchased other companies both in North America and Europe, including: F. Perkins Ltd. in Peterborough, England; G. Landini and Figli S.P.A. in Italy; and the tractor assets of Standard Motor Co., England and France. By 1961, the company - now known as Massey-Ferguson Ltd. - had worldwide net sales of $519 million, up from international sales of $89 million in 1947. It was the world's largest producer of tractors, combines and diesel engines and had 27 factories in 10 countries including Canada.
In the early 1960s, the company employed more than 40,000 people and sold farm machinery, implements, light industrial tractors, equipment, diesel engines and steel office furniture in 161 countries and territories. Massey-Ferguson was a huge company. And, in the early 1960s, its footprint in Brantford became a whole lot bigger. On June 9, 1964, the company officially opened a new $13.5-million combine plant on what was then known as Park Road North. It was a massive 567,900 square feet. Construction of the plant had begun two years earlier. Its official opening was attended by the Mitchell Sharp, then the federal minister of Trade and Commerce, as well as representatives from 10 countries. The opening was tied in with the company's introduction of new combine lines. The plant was designed to achieve, in the words of the company, maximum production flexibility so that rapid model changes and retooling could be made with minimal physical plant changes. Company officials said, at the time, that it represented "an investment in the future of North America.""It is a sound investment when it is realized that agriculture and its related industries account for 40% of Canada's gross national product," company president A.A. Thornbrough said at the official opening. "And it is sound when we consider that, in the United States, agriculture is responsible for about 30% of all jobs in the country, including some six million people working to provide the goods and services farmers use."
While the Massey-Ferguson's success can, in part, be attributed to a culture of innovation and expansion, a lot of other factors contributed to its spectacular growth. One of those factors was the implementation of a North American "common market" for farm machinery. The common market meant there were no tariffs on farm machinery goods shipped between Canada and the United States. The removal of the tariffs was deemed important enough to recognize with a plaque that was unveiled at the opening of the Park Road North plant.
"The plaque, which we are about to unveil, states that the dedication of this plant serves to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the removal of tariffs on agriculture equipment between Canada and the United States," Sharp said at the opening. "I think it could well be said that the plant also serves to commemorate the achievements and dedication of Mr. (Tom) Carroll." Carroll had been the chief engineer of the harvesting equipment company when he retired from Massey-Ferguson in 1961. He had developed the world's first practical self-propelled combine in 1938 for the company, which at that time was known as Massey-Harris. So revered was Carroll that he was the first engineer outside the United States to be awarded the Cyrus Hall McCormick Gold Medal by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers. The plant's official opening was a marvellous affair, featuring lobster Newburg, beef stroganoff and Restigouche salmon, with music provided by the Royal Canadian Regiment band. Massey-Ferguson officials from around the world attended the event and a special seven-car train brought 250 dignitaries from Toronto. Those at the opening included Brant MP James Brown, former Ontario Premier Leslie Frost, industrialist E. P. Taylor and Brantford Mayor R.B. Beckett.
Plans called for the plant, which covered 13 acres, to employ 1,000 people and turn out 15,000 combines a year. In the years immediately following the opening, there were more investments at the site by Massey-Ferguson. Extensions and storage pads were added in 1967 and another storage facility was added in 1969. Then, in 1973, plans were announced for a $17.5-million machine shop and implement assembly plant to be built next to the combine plant. In 1975, the company announced further plans to build a $2.6-million stamping plant. Many of the buildings are still at the site of Henry Street and Wayne Gretzky Parkway. But to get a good sense of the combines that were once produced there and other farm implements manufactured in the community over years, you have to take a trip out of town.
Located at 8560 Tremaine Rd., Milton, Country Heritage Park has more than 20,000 artifacts depicting rural life over a 150-year span in Ontario. It has more that 30 exhibit buildings on an 80-acre site, including one exclusively dedicated to Massey, Harris, Ferguson. "Most of the equipment in this building was brought here after the plant closed in Brantford and they dispersed the museum pieces that they had and, as well, we have equipment that we've acquired over time," David Nattress, the general manager of the park, said. "There are well over 100 artifacts in here, depicting the history of Massey and the merging of Massey with Harris and the other mergers eventually ending up as Massey-Ferguson. "A lot of the equipment in here was manufactured in Brantford, like the 1939 combine that we have here." The self-propelled combine was probably one of the first to come on the market to make farming easier for farmers. "This was a real breakthrough and Massey was one of the leaders in this and Brantford was one of the key areas for manufacturing combines," he said. "At the time, this was quite a monster to see in the field. Quite a sight for farmers in 1939 through the 1940s and into the 1950s."Prior to the self-propelling combine, a thrashing machine was used to thrash the grain, cut with a binder and make stooks and sheaves out of it. There was a lot of manual labour eliminated with the advent of the self-propelled combine.
The exhibit includes a room providing a timeline of the company's growth beginning with Daniel Massey in 1847 and continuing with the mergers and acquisitions that led to world prominence. The exhibit also includes photographs of the company founders. There are other interesting exhibits, including a Ferguson tractor. Its serial number is No. 1. "It was the first one that Harry Ferguson manufactured in North America," Nattress said. "It was manufactured in the United States and he (Harry Ferguson) drove it off the assembly line." As well, there are marketing posters from the glory days when products from Brantford were shipped around the world. "There is a lot of history in this building and Canada should be proud of it and Brantford should be proud of it as well."
End of the line
for Massey in Brantford
(the fourth article in the series)
BRANTFORD - It was the
day that Rick Carter learned the world had changed. The news came in the
1980s from an unlikely source, a truck driver from Winnipeg. "He came to
the plant to pick up some equipment but it wasn't ready for shipping and
wouldn't be ready for a couple of hours," recalled Carter, who was the
manufacturing engineer manager for Massey Combines Corp. "I invited him to
have a seat in the office and offered him a coffee. Then we got to
driver had been trucking for about a year. Prior to that, he and his two
brothers had owned a century farm. The trucker told Carter: "In 1980, the
banks told us our farm, 5,000 acres, was worth $5 million and we could
borrow up to 20% of the value of that land, or $1 million. We borrowed
$800,000 and purchased all new equipment. "Then, two things happened." The price of farm commodities dropped and
interest rates went up. Their land was now worth $2 million and the
brothers were told they could only borrow 10% of that, or $200,000. The
banks wanted $400,000 from the original loan back, immediately. When the
brothers told the bank they didn't have it, the bank foreclosed on their
farm and took all three houses. Even the kids' bank accounts were seized.
"Today, my two brothers and their wives are separated and I have a feeling that when I get back to Winnipeg my wife will have filed for divorce as well," the driver told Carter. That's what was happening in farming. That conversation, coupled with some other incidents that occurred at the Massey plant on Park Road North, now Wayne Gretzky Parkway, told Carter the farm implement manufacturing world had changed. "That (conversation) told me that farmers were putting baling wire on their combines to keep them going rather than buying a new piece of equipment," Carter said. "It was happening all across the United States." Farmers, deep in debt, stopped buying for fear of losing their properties. Carter was at Massey when the company went into receivership on Friday, March 4, 1988, owing creditors $290 million. The plant's closing meant an estimated 2,500 people no longer had jobs. Carter got his official notice on Sunday, March 6. "I got a call at about 10 p.m. on the Sunday," Carter recalled. "A voice said, 'Rick, by order of the Supreme Court of Ontario, blah, blah, blah.... "In other words do not go to work tomorrow because you do not have a f....ing job."
Carter survived the closing largely because he had been attending night school and earning degrees even as he worked at Massey. He had earned an undergraduate degree, and when Massey closed, he got an MBA and a masters in engineering degree. In the immediate aftermath of the closing, he worked for the bankruptcy trustee, arranging for the shipment of tools and tool drawings to various companies. It was a massive undertaking that took six months. He also led the effort to get salaried employees at the plant a termination package that paid them 63 cents for every dollar the company owed them. The settlement, which was similar to what had been offered hourly production employees, came after a lot of legal wrangling and court proceedings.
The legal wrangling focused on the relationship
between Varity Corp. and Massey Combines Corp. Lawyers for the company
argued that Varity was separate from Massey Combines Corp. and therefore
not responsible for termination pay. Those on the other side, the hourly
workers and salaried employees, argued Massey's was part of Varity making
Varity responsible for termination pay. The breakthrough came when the
president of Massey Combines, Ivan Porter, said he was an employee of
Varity, not Massey. Carter went on to better things following the
Massey's closing but a lot of others didn't fare so well.
"People just didn't know what to do and many had what I felt were pie-in-the-sky ideas like starting their own construction business, or a business dealing with truckers" Carter said. "I never heard of anyone who was super successful. "It was just survival for many people." Many, including superintendents at Massey Combines, were never able to find high-paying jobs again and had to settle for lower-paying ones such as night watchmen, drug store delivery boys and janitors, he said. The bankruptcy and subsequent closing of the combine factory had a huge impact on the community and many families.
Brant MPP Dave Levac remembers the impact Massey's closing had on his family. "I had five brothers that worked at Massey's and when the closing happened, I specifically remember us thinking, 'Oh my God, our family is getting wiped out' because at that time all of them were married, all had families and all were going to have to start over," Levac said. "That was the same story for many, many families across the board in Brantford. "It affected thousands of workers. It was that huge."Massey-Ferguson was like this huge, one-stop factory that provided employment for everyone. When it folded, it was like a stake was driven through the community's heart. Levac worked at Massey's for several summers and was offered a full-time job if he didn't go back to university."I grappled with the decision," Levac recalled. "I would have made pretty good wages if I had accepted the offer. "One of my brothers had quit school in Grade 10 to work at Massey's and was making more money than me even after I got my degree and started teaching."
His first teaching contract was in 1977 and he made $9,300 a year.
David Neumann, now a city councillor representing Ward 5, was mayor of Brantford in the early 1980s before becoming the MPP. On March 4, 1988, he was the MPP and had mixed feelings when he heard the axe had finally fallen on Massey's. "The closing of Massey's was the end of a long story of the huge impact the farm implement industry had on our community," Neumann said. "On the other hand, people could finally put it behind them.
"It's a harsh thing to say but it was painstakingly difficult in the early 1980s when you had Massey's recovering, then laying off again, and hiring again and then laying off again," he said.
"People were kept on a string and when Massey's closed they knew that it was the end and they had to look at alternatives." Even after the closing there were many who couldn't let it go, who still believed Massey's would somehow come back. "Even after the official announcement that Massey's was gone people had difficulty accepting it," Neumann said. "Their experience was that Massey's would be down but then come back again. "It was like a death in the family. It was hard to accept."
Doug Aitchison was in his 20s and had worked at the Massey Combines plant for seven or eight years when it closed. "I was 19 when I got hired and I still remember the woman from HR (human resources) telling me that if I stuck around for a year that I'd be working there for the rest of my life," Aitchison, who now works out of the CAW office in Kitchener, recalled. "That's the way it was back then. "You could go into a plant and be there until you retired." Wages were good enough that someone working in the plant could own a home and raise a family. That's the way it was in Brantford. That's the way it had always been, he said. "When Massey's closed we had people who were making more than $16 an hour and suddenly they were looking for work and at jobs that only paid $10 an hour," he said. The world had changed for farmers. The world had changed for workers, too.
Massey aftermath: A city transformed
The final article in this series
BRANTFORD - The bankruptcy and subsequent closing of the Massey Combine Corp. plant on Park Road North - now the Wayne Gretzky Parkway - was a harsh kick in the collective stomach of the community. But it didn't kill Brantford. In some ways it made the city stronger. "The move into post-secondary education has revolutionized and revitalized the downtown," Brantford Mayor Chris Friel said. "It has brought in money and industry. "We have four post-secondary school institutions in our downtown, five in our community as a whole, which is unique. There's not another community that can boast that or boast the kind of revitalization we've had in our downtown."
The community has two universities, Laurier Brantford and Nipissing, as well as Mohawk College and Conestoga College. There is also a partnership between the Brant Community Healthcare System and McMaster University. "We're creating role models," Friel said. "We're creating a culture of education and lifelong learning in Brantford and we're being very successful." The culture of education and the strong post-secondary school presence is in stark contrast to the Brantford of Friel's youth.
"I have this clear recollection of my friend
who lived across the street. He had a brother who dropped out of school at
16 to go work at Massey's," Friel said. "He came home, driving up in his
(Dodge) Charger and it was a beautiful car. That's what happened. "You
turned 16, you dropped out of school and went to work with dad, brothers
and uncles." There is something else that's different about Brantford
these days, he added. The community's economy is more diversified and
no longer dependent on one company or one industry. As a result of that
diversification, the community was able to deal with the latest economic
recession better than a lot of other communities, Friel said. A lot of the credit for the economic
diversification has to go to actions of city council under the direction
of some of his predecessors - namely former mayors Karen George and Dave
Neumann, who is now a city councillor representing Ward 5. Neumann was mayor in the early 1980s but left
to become the MPP. He was replaced by George, who had only been in the
city's top elected position for a few months when Massey's went into
receivership. "It was very hard for people to accept," she said. "The
whole city went through the various stages of grieving and then of course,
a couple of years later the recession of the early 1990s hit and that was
pretty difficult too.
"We tried to stay positive because we knew what we had to do to move forward, but we also knew that a lot of people didn't want to hear that." In the immediate aftermath of the closing, there were a couple of issues on the top of George's priority list.
First, she and the city officials had to deal with people who were very upset and at the same time come up with a way to rebuild the city when a big gaping hole had just been knocked through its industrial base. "There was a lot of work with the economic development board and city staff to develop strategies based on trying to attract the small- and medium-sized businesses that have potential to grow," George said. "We also had this big piece of industrial land that wasn't being used and so we had to put a big emphasis on developing more industrial land. "Those were the strategies at the time and I think, ultimately, they have been proven to be successful." The city now has the Northwest Industrial Area in the Oak Park Road area and the economy is much more diversified now than it was when Massey's was king. In addition to the loss of jobs, there were various related challenges to deal with in the aftermath. Work began to bring the city to a zero deficit at the same time as it built a new library and police station. The downtown also needed attention and the city had another problem. "At the time we had one of the lowest proportion of high school students going off to post-secondary education of any other community our size or type," George said. "We had an abysmal drop-out rate and that's why council put such an effort into getting Mohawk College here." The drop-out rate was also why there was such a push to get a new and better library, she added.
With respect to the downtown, her council and
each successive city council did something to improve the downtown, said
George. The diversification of the economy is something that began with
Neumann and continued with George. When Friel took office, the process was
well underway. Brant MPP Dave Levac praised the work of those councils for
taking the steps and making the decisions to move the community away from
become dependent on one big company or industry. "There is no magic
bullet, no one company that is going to do it all for us," Levac said.
"Our economy is more diversified today than it was then and now if one
company closes its doors the impact isn't as great." Neumann and the
council of his day were instrumental in getting the city designated as a
community that could access federal government funds to help create jobs
and provide employment for those who were left jobless. The program was aimed at both industry and
labour. On the industry side, it provided interest-free loans to companies
that wanted to expand but couldn't do it because of the high interest
rates being charged by traditional lenders back then. The government
provided half of the funding needed while traditional lenders provided the
other half. The net benefit was that instead of being charged 20% interest
on the loan, companies had to pay 10% which was enough of a break, in many
cases, to make the project worthwhile.
There were between 40 and 50 companies that we able to use the program over a three-year period, Neumann said. "I think the lesson here is to remain resilient and remain open to new possibilities," Neumann said. "Many of those people who were laid off from those high paying jobs had to make an adjustment but a lot of them found other things they could do. "As a community, we can't be reliant on something and believe that it will be there forever. We have to remain strong in our diversity and our approach to grow." There was, in the two or three years leading up to the closing of Massey's, hope that an industrial restructuring would do something - but it turned out to be a forlorn hope."They (Massey) built an office building in downtown Brantford called Massey House," Neumann said. "It's now a university residence."
The Canadian Industrial Heritage Centre Visits the Massey Club Meeting
December 6, 2009 at Country Heritage Park, Milton
Past-president of the
Canadian Industrial Heritage Centre (CIHC), Donna Stewart, and
the CIHC's new Executive Director, Karen Dearlove, were
delighted to be able to give a brief presentation at the Massey
Club's recent meeting. The Canadian Industrial Heritage Centre
is a registered non-profit organization located in Brantford
that seeks to promote and to honour Canadian Industrial Heritage
through public education and the preservation of historical
data, resources, and artifacts. While the CIHC grew out
of the 2000 Cockshutt Plow Company Homecoming in Brantford, the
organization is dedicated to preserving and promoting the story
of industrial history, first in Brantford, and eventually for
all of Canada. The CIHC is currently working with Terrasan, a
developer seeking to redevelop the 52 acre Greenwich Mohawk
brownfield site in Brantford, to transform the 1903 Cockshutt
Plow Company office building into a Heritage Centre, to exhibit
and tell the stories of industrial history.
Brantford is an appropriate location for an Industrial Heritage Centre. By 1914, Brantford was the third largest manufacturer of exported goods in all of Canada, after only Toronto and Montreal. Brantford was once home to many significant industries, and Brantford's impressive industrial history is intrinsically linked to Massey Harris. While Massey's roots started just outside Newcastle, Ontario, several important historical events in Brantford led to Massey's overwhelming presence in the city. Several companies that became incorporated into Massey had roots in Brantford. These companies include J.O. Wisner & Son Company that was established in 1871 in Brantford; the Harris farm implement company that moved to Brantford in 1871; Verity Plow Company that moved to Brantford in 1892. Brantford soon became recognized as a centre for the manufacture of agricultural implements. By the end of the 19 th century Massey-Harris was the largest single industrial employer in Brantford, and together with Cockshutt the two companies employed 35% of Brantford's manufacturing workforce. Massey continued to grow and thrive in Brantford, and by the late 1970s the company employed over 3000 people in Brantford.
This is only one of the important stories that the Canadian Industrial Heritage Centre wants to tell in an Industrial Heritage Centre, but this story demonstrates Brantford's significance in Canadian industrial history, as well an important part of our past that needs to be protected and promoted. While the Canadian Industrial Heritage Centre is making progress towards its goal, we have a long way to go and need support and help from individuals and organizations like the Massey Club. The CIHC is still a relatively small, grass-roots organization, and we are seeking members to join us as we push forward in the creation of an Industrial Heritage Centre in Brantford.
We are working on building our collection of artifacts and historical documents of material relating to industrial history, and would be interested in hearing about any possible additions to our collection. Lastly, the CIHC is a registered charity, and our continued existence is dependent on revenue generated from the sale of DVDs that we have produced from archival footage from the Cockshutt Plow Company, and from the support of individuals who see the value in preserving Canadian Industrial Heritage.
The Canadian Industrial Heritage Centre is dedicated to telling the story of Canada's great industrial history, stories like that of Massey-Harris-Ferguson. If not for collectors like yourselves, and other dedicated individuals who have taken it upon themselves to preserve these important artefacts of our past, these stories would be lost. The Canadian Industrial Heritage Centre wants to create a permanent home for these stories, where they can be collected, preserved, and shared. For more information about the Canadian Industrial Heritage Centre please see our website: www.canadianindustrialheritage.org or email us at email@example.com or call 519-732-1000. Thank-you again to the Massey Club for your hospitality.
Below: Massey Harris factory in Brantford, ON.
Below: Cockshutt Plow factory in Brantford, ON.
Some Massey, Harris, and Ferguson History
On June 16, 2001, something extraordinary and unique happened in Newcastle, Ontario. The Newcastle and District Historical Society sponsored The Massey Show. An exposition of the products produced by the revolutionary Massey family beginning with tools and implements and later combines, tractors and larger farm machinery. Their contributions would revolutionize agriculture. As well, they made numerous generous contributions to the village of Newcastle. A picture of the Massey Foundry appears below left.
Haskill, a Port Hope resident and a member of the Newcastle Historical Society is the driving force behind the "The Massey Show".
Sandford's family have deep roots in this area. His ancestors first immigrated to Port Hope in 1793 and Haskills have lived on
the same Lakeshore Road farm since 1796. When asked what
prompted him to come up with the idea of a Massey Show, he
explains, " It is the only local machinery company that is
still operational. There has never been any type of show to
prolong the Massey history and we should never forget our
The Massey family immigrated to the United States from England in 1630. By 1795, some of the family moved to Watertown, New York on the east side of Lake Ontario. Around 1802, Daniel Massey, along with his wife Rebecca Kelley and their infant son Daniel, traveled across the lake to Haldimand Township, near the village of Grafton. Here, he obtained 200 acres of land and began the process of clearing the forest and constructing a home. Today, this same farm is the home of St. Annes Spring Water. When young Daniel was 6 years of age, he was sent back to Watertown to live with his grandparents. Here he received some education and several years later he returned back to help work the farm with his father.
By the time young Daniel was twenty one years of age, he had established himself as quite the entrepreneur. He had purchased his own 200 acres of land just west of his parent's farm and married his childhood sweetheart, Lucinda Bradley. During the next twelve years, he accumulated more land and hired as many as 100 men to clear it. He continued lumbering and land clearing until around 1830, when he decided to focus on farming again. He had made numerous trips back and forth to the United States to visit family and friends and often he would bring back machinery and tools that were not known to Canadians. One of his first acquisitions was the "Bull Thresher", which was set up in the barn where the grain was brought to it. Soon, neighbouring farmers would also bring their grain into the Massey barn and have it threshed.
Since the blacksmiths in Cobourg and Grafton were some distance away, Daniel Massey built a small machine shop where he could repair not only his own machinery but his neighbour's as well. Massey recognized that there was a great demand for labour saving implements, so, often he would bring back these tools and implements from his trips to visit family in the United States. Eventually, Massey decided to turn the farm over to his son Hart and concentrate on making and repairing farm machinery.
Richard.F. Vaughan owned a small foundry and machine shop in the village of Bond Head on Lake Ontario in Durham County between Cobourg and Oshawa. Vaughan was an acquaintance of Daniel Massey, likely through Stephen Vaughan who was married to Lucinda Massey's sister Cyrene . Stephen and Cyrene lived just south of Richard Vaughan's foundry. Richard Vaughan had to close the shop in 1847 and shortly after formed a partnership with Daniel Massey to use the building for manufacturing implements. Vaughan provided the building and equipment and Massey provided the money. Within six months, Massey bought out Vaughan's interest in the business and became the sole owner. By 1848, his reputation and business had grown and he had to find a larger facility. Today, a fine looking newer bungalow is situated on the property where the foundry once stood at the north-east corner of Mill and Metcalf Streets. Stephen and Cyrene's house, built around 1843, is still there at 579 Mill Street South.
Massey found a large two story brick structure, which was already being used as a foundry a mile north in the growing village of Newcastle. He purchased it as well as fifty acres of land from the Hon. George Strange Boulton. Massey immediately had the land divided into building lots (five per acre) anticipating the future growth of the village. He also built a new home for his family located at 285 Mill Street South and this house still stands today. The cobblestone exterior has been replaced with brick and the verandahs and cupola are no longer there. The mansard style roof found on it now, was added later. Hart Massey obtained the house when his father died in 1856 and then sold the home in 1872 to the Anglican minister, Rev. Henry Brent and his wife Sophia. In 1896 it was sold to the Anglican church and used as a rectory for many years. The vacant land to the east and south of the house is still owned by the Anglican church.
In 1849, Massey moved his implement building operation into Newcastle on the south side of The Kingston Road ( now King Street) east of Beaver Street and called it "The Newcastle Foundry and Machine Manufactory, C.W."(The "C.W." means "Canada West"). Additional men were hired and new equipment was obtained for the firm to begin manufacturing plows, stump pullers, harrows and other farm implements.
By 1851, the business had become too much for Daniel to look after on his own so he sent for his 28 year old son, Hart, to work there as factory superintendent. Later, Hart and his family moved into a large white frame house beside the Newcastle factory. This home was demolished a few years ago to make way for the new IGA store.
Hart, who was mechanically inclined, immediately immersed himself in the business. He was also very active locally, being a Justice of the Peace for 20 years, he served as the local Coroner and Chief Magistrate. As well he was a school trustee and taught a bible class at the Newcastle Methodist Church (now Newcastle United Church).
He traveled to the United States and attended many field trials of farm implements. Here, he obtained the Canadian patent rights for the Ketchum Mower, the first of all grass-cutting machines. The following year they began manufacturing these mowers in Newcastle. Later that year, they also began manufacturing the Burrell Reaper. By 1855, a more modern reaper called the Manny Combined Hand-Rake Reaper was being manufactured there. This reaper could cut from eight to ten acres a day and was extremely popular with farmers in Canada.
In 1856, the Grand Trunk Railway passed through Newcastle and this enabled Hart Massey to expand his operation again. Now his machinery could be loaded onto the rail cars and sent all across Canada. Hart also loaded his products onto the train and took them to a Provincial Exhibition in Kingston. Here, he not only won prizes but exposed his products to many new potential customers outside the Newcastle area. Massey could now manufacture not only farm implements, but steam engines, boilers, brass and iron castings, various stoves, lathes, iron and wood planes and "other kinds of machinery required in an Engine Shop, Carriage Manufactory, or other establishment of a similar kind".
In 1856, Daniel Massey died at the age of 58. He had no will and although he had eleven children, the property was divided between his son Hart and his two youngest daughters Arletta, who was thirteen, and Alida, age nine. After Lucina died in the late 1860's, the two girls sold their inheritance to Hart. One of the Massey's eleven children was Frances Massey who married William Boate. Boate was the Principal of the Bowmanville Grammar School, the Bowmanville Academy and later the Superintendent of Education for Darlington and Durham County. From 1864 until 1869 they lived at 261 Mill Street, just north of Daniel and Lucinda's original home.
In 1862, the first Massey catalogue was printed at the shop of E.A. McNaughton in Newcastle. Now the Massey business was renamed The Newcastle Agricultural Works. By 1863, the Newcastle Agricultural Works could not handle all the orders for their product so they added building space and more equipment.
Catastrophe struck on March 29, 1864, when the warehouse caught fire and was destroyed. A new building was constructed by the fall but the harvest was already over for that year so there were no new orders received. The following year they sold over 400 machines and soon sales agencies were set up across Ontario.
In 1866, Newcastle Works demonstrated their products at the Toronto Industrial Exhibition and the following year were chosen to represent Canadian Manufacturing at an International Exposition in Paris, France . There, with twenty-five million visitors, the Massey's finally received world wide recognition for their products. In a field trial, the Massey self binder cut the required section of oats, "without a stop, or missing a sheaf, or a hindrance of any kind." in a remarkable 55 minutes. The runner-up took two and a half hours and needed a change of horses. Soon, orders began to flow in from Europe.
In 1867, there were over 100 employees at the Newcastle plant and there they had six large buildings. In 1870, the Massey Manufacturing company was formed, with Hart Massey as President and his oldest son, Charles as Vice President and Superintendent. In 1871, Hart Massey retired and moved to Cleveland Ohio, leaving Charles to run the business.
In 1878, Massey introduced The Massey Harvester, which was a new, improved, completely Canadian design. It was extremely popular and although Massey planned to build 200 of them, they soon had orders for over 500 units. Even though they worked both day and night shifts in the factory in Newcastle, they were unable to keep up with demand and it soon became apparent that they would have to move to larger quarters. Much to the chagrin of Newcastle residents, they moved the operation to Toronto in 1879. Approximately 100 to 150 of the village's 1200 residents worked for Massey at this time. Essentially, the village was just too small to provide the services for a growing firm like Massey. They needed a good supply of labour, a public water supply and gas light to ensure that they could produce enough product so satisfy demand. By 1901, the population of Newcastle had dwindled down to 645 people.
In 1891, Massey Manufacturing joined with A. Harris, Son and Company and formed Massey Harris Company Limited. In 1953, they merged with Harry Ferguson Limited and formed Massey-Harris-Ferguson Limited which was shortened to Massey-Ferguson Limited in 1957.
In 1892, Hart Massey had a memorial built to honour the death of his son Charles. This was a an extraordinary auditorium designed to be a "gift to aid in the development of the arts." It is called Massey Hall in Toronto. The Massey's contributions to Newcastle were extensive. In 1860, Hart Massey built a parsonage on Church Street at the south end of new Methodist Church and then sold it to the church. In 1909, Charles Massey made a large contribution to the same church and the building was completely renovated.. As well, they included in their gift a new brick parsonage at Mill and Caroline Streets. In 1923, Chester Massey built and donated the beautiful Community Hall still located at the north-west corner of King and Mill Streets. Although Chester Massey's sons Raymond and Vincent became very well known throughout the world, it was not in the manufacturing business. Vincent lectured modern history and became Dean of Residence at Victoria College. He later became the first Canadian born Governor General of Canada. Raymond was a famous Hollywood actor and appeared in many movies. He played Abraham Lincoln in the film "Abe Lincoln in Illinois".
But it was here, in Newcastle, that the foundation was laid for the company's growth across Canada and all over the world. Members of the Newcastle and District Historical Society celebrated the Massey's contributions and accomplishments in and near Newcastle at both indoor and outdoor venues. The indoor show, which included historical memorabilia and toys, was held at the Newcastle Community Hall ( a building originally donated by the Massey's) and the outdoor implement show was held at the Lovekin farm located at Hwy 115 and Hwy 401. Members of the Massey family attended as well as Massey enthusiasts from all over North America.
And now for some Harris History.
Arch-Rivals Joined Forces To Create Industry Giant
By Cheryl MacDonald, a local historian and author in Norfolk County.
On July 21, 1841 John Harris was born in Townsend Township in Norfolk County, Ontario. His father, Alanson, was a native of New Brunswick and a Baptist who, like many people of the time, moved from place to place as opportunities presented themselves. John started school in Beamsville Ontario where he also worked in the sawmill his father owned.
In 1857, Alanson had purchased a foundry for the manufacture and repair of farm machinery. By 1872, the company had relocated to a bigger facility in Brantford Ontario. John was one of the mechanics at the Harris factory. He was a bit of an inventor himself, always tinkering to improve the equipment the company manufactured. According to historian Michael Bliss, among the most important of his designs were improvements in self-binding harvesters, including The Little Brantford Beauty, which was one of the best selling pieces of equipment the company manufactured.
He also kept a sharp eye out for other products that might suit the company's line. Among these were the Kirby mower and Kirby reel-rake, which the Harris firm manufactured under license from D. M. Osborne and Company of Auburn, New York.
It was an exciting time to be in this business. During John's lifetime, Canada had gradually become more industrialized. Agricultural societies, which had been established in the late 1700's, were making huge strides in experimenting with new methods of planting, growing and harvesting crops. One of the main features at agricultural fairs was displays of the latest equipment.
A number of men with the inclination, talent and resources saw the manufacture of farm implements as a way to improve agricultural production while making a profit. One of them was Daniel Massey, who started his own factory in Newcastle, Ontario in 1847. Through the 1870's and the 1880's, the two companies were bitter rivals. Both produced light binders that performed equally well. But, like modern car lovers, farmers were either fans of the Massey binder or the Harris binder. (And there were probably long, lengthy debates about the merits of each in blacksmith's shops and general stores at the time.)
During this period John worked hard to build up his business. Unlike his relatively uneducated father, John was much more socially sophisticated and politically active. He held a number of offices, and in his 40's was president of the Reform Association of South Brant. Many thought he was considering a political career.
Fate, unfortunately, intervened. John was already ill with tuberculosis. Then in the spring of 1887, he visited Texas to watch harvester trials and contracted malaria. He died August 25, 1887, barely a month after his 46th birthday. In a tribute to Harris, his Brantford employees commented, "The Great Reaper...stepped in and silenced the active brain and life." John's father was still alive, and John's son Lloyd was involved in the business.
But John had been a driving force behind the success of the company. Four years after his death, Alanson Harris decided to merge with his arch-rival, the Massey Manufacturing Company. It became one of the biggest and most important manufacturers of farm implements in Canada.
And now for some Ferguson History
The Machine World's Unhonoured Maverick
(An Article from the Family Herald, March 23, 1961 by Professor P. H. Southwell of the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph, Ontario)
The man did more than any other for mechanized farming died without any of the
usual accolades, but almost every farm bears tribute to his genius.
Few men with a mission ever manage to be successful commercially.
Harry Ferguson was one of the few. What Ferguson did for farm
machinery is comparable to what Edison did for homes, or what Ford did
for transportation, or what Bell did for communications. Ferguson was
one of the few great men which agriculture can claim and almost every
farm today has benefited from his work. When he died last autumn at
the age of 75, he had been a multi millionaire for quite some time.
Ferguson succeeded because he was convinced that he was right and because he was a genius. He was capable of not only conceiving and developing a revolutionary idea, but also of promoting it with high success. This happy combination of talents in one man has had profound effects on the mechanization of farm field work. The results of his engineering and inventive ability have been in use on farms for more than 20 years now, but it is doubtful if we would have had these developments, perhaps even yet, if he had not had such drive and ability.
Strangely his immense contribution to farm mechanization was never formally recognized by suitable honours from the agricultural engineering profession on either side of the Atlantic. Although there is little excuse for such an omission, in this writer's opinion, a possible explanation is that Ferguson was a rather shy, aloof, and retiring sort of man who was hard to get along with and did not push himself forward as a person. The only thing he pushed was his revolutionary "system" and, like many men of purpose, he probably upset a lot of people along the way. He was more of a crusader than many other successful men appear to have been; but like many other great men, he was at first regarded by the pundits as merely a crank.
It is seldom realized that Harry Ferguson worked on his project for a long time and achieved success rather late in life. He was born in 1884 on a farm in County Down in Ireland. His bent for mechanical things appeared early in his love for motorcycles and automobiles. An indication of his ability is that he designed, built, and flew his own monoplane by the time he was 25, just 6 years after the first powered flight in the world was made by the Wright brothers.
If Ferguson had stayed in aeronautics, he might well have become famous in that branch of engineering instead, and farming would have been the loser, but, during the 1914-1918 war, the Irish Department of Agriculture put him in charge of the operation and maintenance of tractors and machinery on the farms of Ireland. It may have been a very big job, but it appears to have sparked his interest in farm mechanization.
Ferguson came quietly on the agricultural scene in the early 1920's when he designed a linkage for mounting a plow directly on the rear of a tractor, the first step in his theory that implement and tractor must be an integral unit. Many years of hard work followed and led to the development of the famous three-point linkage which we now universally employ. The second step was hydraulic activation of the mounted implement, through the three-point linkage. Ferguson not only used hydraulics to lift and lower the implement, but also to control its depth in work. This was an outstanding invention intimately associated with his theory of weight transfer and the conception of a light-weight tractor. By the early 1930's the Ferguson system was taking shape. How Ferguson financed himself at this time is obscure (he was over 40) but it would appear that he had private resources.
In 1933 pneumatic tires were introduced for farm tractors to replace the steel lugged wheels which had been used for over 30 years. To Ferguson this was an important change. A great deal of work with an expanded staff seems to have been accomplished in the next couple of years and his tractor was ready to go into production by 1936. Harry Ferguson was then 52 years old.
The quality of the design work which was done before production commenced is shown by the fact that the Ferguson tractors which were built during the following 25 years differed only in details from the original machine.
With this outstanding design he made five distinct and far reaching contributions, each important in its own right. Firstly, he produced a light-weight machine showing that tractors need not be heavy, as they always had been. Secondly, he mounted the implements on a tractor itself-instead of dragging them separately behind-so as to form one single compact unit. Thirdly, he designed the three-point hitch for implement mounting. Fourthly, he introduced oil hydraulic systems for easy implement positioning and control. Fifthly, he put forward a theory of weight transfer from a rear-mounted implement onto the tractor frame.
Each of these developments was individually significant and affected tractor design throughout the world. When put together, they formed the Ferguson system and in effect revolutionized both tractor design and farm mechanization.
But the boldness of his attack on conventional ideas and the extant of his revolution can perhaps be gauged from the fact that the rest of the tractor industry was not only scornful at the beginning but continued to be so for a long time. With the exception of only two manufacturers, the industry as a whole took about 10 years before finally conceding that Ferguson might be on the right track. Then his lead was followed in a variety of ways.
Ferguson was primarily an inventor and had no manufacturing facilities. Throughout his life he appeared to prefer to leave the problems of mass production to other men specializing in that work. His first tractor was produced by the David Brown Company in England, which previously had not been in the tractor business, but had made the gears for the prototype. Production of the Ferguson Brown tractor continued until 1939 and made a definite impression. The arrangement ended in disagreement however and Ferguson went to the United States. Here he entered into an arrangement with Henry Ford to produce the Ford Ferguson tractor on this side of the Atlantic. Ferguson had the design and Ford had the facilities to produce in quantity. A great many tractors were built before this arrangement ended in disagreement in 1947.
It was at this stage that Harry Ferguson, at the age of 62, for the first time fully entered the business of producing and selling tractors. He arranged for the Standard Motor Company to make the tractor in England and built his own factory, presumably because he had to, in Detroit.
The Ferguson Company forged rapidly ahead with a program of production, sales and service in all the world markets and the gray tractor, so similar to the Ferguson Brown machine of 10 years before but with the wide range of mounted equipment, became familiar everywhere. In the USA however, Dearborn continued to produce tractors using a replica of the Ferguson system and in 1951 Harry Ferguson successfully sued for infringements of his patents in the famous law suit. By this time, he had collected around himself one of the most progressive design teams in the business, and it was a surprise to everybody when an amalgamation with the Massey Harris Company was announced in 1953, Less than a year later, he retired at the age of 70 to pursue another challenge, namely to design a new type of automobile. Ferguson's mark on the mechanization of farming throughout the world has been immense and the full implications of his design work may never be fully assessed. But let us consider a few of them.
In many areas, mounted equipment is now used on every farm and the three-point linkage, which Ferguson invented, is universally employed; it has been changed only by the addition of quick-hitch devices. It is hard to imagine modern farming without mounted equipment.
The application of oil hydraulic systems on tractors has been extended considerably since Ferguson led the field and indicated the full potentialities. Hydraulic pressure is now one of the greatest work savers on the modern farm; we only have to think of manure handling without it to realize this. He was also ahead of his time in using a high oil pressure (which has yet to be exceeded) and thereby saving weight and space. Although there is little doubt that we would eventually have used oil pressure to position the larger trailed implements, Ferguson showed the possibilities and did more than any other man to promote tractor hydraulics.
He also used his hydraulic system to maintain a constant draft; this gave the advantage of constant depth control as alternatives, and many others use some device for weight transfer from the mounted implement onto the rear wheels. All these developments spring from Ferguson's inventive genius. As well as wheel slip by varying the depth of work to keep a constant draft, he also used wheel spin as a safety device. Ferguson was very conscious of the safety problem and did much to focus attention upon it; but then his light weight design required that he should, and it was unfortunate that the misuse of his machine without his mounted implements did cause accidents.
His contention that a tractor could be light in weight has not been fully adopted because it was dependent on his system and because of the problems of hauling wagons and other trailed equipment. But the Ferguson tractor has been the lightest on the market for many years and undoubtedly strongly influenced designers by its success. The effect of its maneuverability, easy operation, and clean lines has also been considerable.
Harry Ferguson was one of the greatest designers of agricultural machinery we have ever had. His major contribution was the transition to mounted equipment of all types and the completely hydraulic control of them. This was a great influence on the progress of farm mechanization and outstanding at the time it was made. Both in this large conception and in many details of design, his work has influenced that of the whole tractor industry and has been of great assistance to all farmers, particularly on small and medium-sized farms. It is to be hoped that there is another such man working somewhere, in a barn or at a drafting table, to take us to the next jump forward in mechanization.
The Mosquito Bomber in WWII and the M-H Connection
The wings for the Mosquito bomber, for those that were built in Canada, were made by Massey Harris at their aircraft plant in Weston, Ontario.
The Mosquito wing was built in one piece for strength and lightness, with two wooden box spars, laminated spruce flanges and plywood webs. The trailing edge was rakishly swept forward, and the wingtips were replaceable units. The aerofoil was a Piercy Modified Section RAF 34. The center part of the wing carried the welded steel engine bearers and mountings for the radiators directly onto the front spar. A "D" section box for the outer wing leading edges was also attached to the front spar. Spanwise spruce stringers over the ribs supported the plywood wing skins. The upper surface had two skins, with the stringers sandwiched in between. After the whole thing was glued and screwed together, a final covering of Madapolam cotton fabric was stretched on with dope and painted. This resulted in an beautifully smooth surface that was virtually impossible to achieve in metal at that time.
The 10 internal fuel tanks were nested in the cavities between the spars, completely accessible from below. Outboard of the nacelles were two tanks of 32 and 24 gallons, inboard two of 79 and 65 gallons, and in the fuselage two of 68 gallons. Most later versions could carry external drop tanks of 50, 100, or eventually 200 gallons, or 500 lb. bombs, on pylons under the strengthened no. 8 rib. The undercarriage of the Mosquito was simplicity itself. It was deliberately designed to avoid as much machining as possible. The undercarriage legs were completely interchangeable, consisting of nothing more than stamped metal housings containing a stack of rubber blocks. The large low pressure tires helped to absorb some of the shock. This no maintenance system worked well, and was still being used on the Twin Otter some decades later with Neoprene blocks. The early Mosquito was not without its difficulties though. The original short engine nacelles caused tailplane buffeting because of disturbed air flow. The tail wheel was a weak point in the design that was never adequately resolved, and the exhaust system was troublesome to the end. Nevertheless, de Havilland produced a winner because they had the patience and gumption to address the inevitable development problems.
By George Gordon
As an avid collector of brow cover Hardy Boys and old Thornton W. Burgess books I am often in the habit of frequenting used book stores to see what treasures they might have. On one such visit to Attic Books in London, Ontario, I enquired if they might happen to have any books about tractors. The Clerk said that they might just have something. He returned shortly with " The Tuffy Tractor Coloring Book". Being interested in Massey Harris, I was delighted. For $7.50 I now had a very unusual item. In spite of some crayon left by the books original owner, all the pages were in good shape. Some were even left uncoloured.
The book told the story of Johnny who had asked Santa for a toy Tractor just like his Dads big Massey Harris Tractor "Tuffy." Santa brings the Toy and takes the boy on a dream trip through the history of Agriculture. Toward the end it describes various other Massey Harris machines.
The "Tuffy Tractor
Coloring Book" had been given to the children of customers
by Massey Harris Dealers. On the back of my copy it
says 1952 Massey- Harris Company, Toronto, Canada. On E-Bay from time to
time I started seeing other books about "Tuffy". Later
on I purchased a story book "Tuffy
Tractor" by Emilie Hall and Illustrated by Dorothy Woy. It
was a great little book with beautiful art
work. It told the story of how "Tuffy" came to the
farm and along with various other pieces of
Massey Harris Machinery, how he had made life easier for the
Brown Family; including Johnny, Lucy
and their Parents. This book again from the Massey - Harris
Company, this time from Racine
Wisconsin had been published in 1951. Along with this purchase
came a Massey Harris "M-H
Fun Book" full of games and puzzles again featuring "Tuffy
Tractor" along with two boys Matt and
These books appear to have been part of an advertising campaign aimed at the Children of Massey Harris customers. Much like the prizes that used to come in the cereal boxes these items would make the local Massey Dealership a Kid friendly place. I would love to hear from other members who remember "Tuffy". It would be interesting to know who thought up this ad campaign and if there are other pieces of "Tuffy" literature floating around out there.
Following are some pictures from the "Tuffy" books.
Read a story about Harold Brock . Click here for more details.
Read a story in Better Farming magazine written by Ralph Winfield on some Massey roots. Click here for the article.