Families stop by Orwell Corner to see how grain was harvested more than a century ago

·2 min read
A drone photo showing the Orwell Corner Historical Village's horse-drawn combine in action on Thresher Day. (Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit)
A drone photo showing the Orwell Corner Historical Village's horse-drawn combine in action on Thresher Day. (Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit)

A handful of Islanders were at Orwell Corner Historic Village on Friday to see how grain was harvested in the days before modern machinery.

Demonstrations were held to show visitors to the heritage village in Vernon Bridge, P.E.I., what Island life was like in the late 19th century.

This year's Threshing Day event also showed how Islanders used to make rope, loaded hay into barns and — of course — used a thresher.

The village's horse-drawn combine is the main attraction, showing how farmers used to separate grain from straw.

Shane Hennessey/CBC
Shane Hennessey/CBC

"People who are able to see that will be able to see how modern combines came to be," said Kevin MacLean, site director at Orwell Corner.

"Sometimes we're not sure how it'll work with some of these old things because we don't use them all the time. But it worked excellent."

The demonstration of the early harvesting machinery ran into some problems because of thick grass, but eventually the combine got through the field with some help from a tractor.

Shane Hennessey/CBC
Shane Hennessey/CBC

Barry Hogan is with the Eastern P.E.I. Antique Tractor club. The club has been part of Threshing Day for years.

"You get your old thresher out of the barn, get your tractor hooked up to it and pray that the belts stay on and things work," Hogan said.

"You do it once a year, eh? So it's difficult to make everything work to perfection on that particular day. Preparation. Takes a lot of preparation."

This is the first time the event has been held since 2019. Organizers said the crowds were smaller this year because people weren't sure it was going to go ahead.

Shane Hennessey/CBC
Shane Hennessey/CBC

"We decided last week actually that we would try and bring out the stuff and give it a go," MacLean said. "So we'll have a practice [session] in for next year, and hopefully we'll have a better crowd."

But MacLean said it's good to see people back at the village this summer, including families there to enjoy one of the last days before school starts.

Vince Angelini was at the event with his eight-year-old grandson, Wyatt, who said he wanted to bring his grandparents to see Orwell after going there for a school trip.

"I was quite impressed," Angelini said. "I'm glad I wasn't around back then cause I don't think I would have made it through a day's work."