VIEW-1621 | Steam threshing, Portage La Prairie, MB, 1887

Steam threshing, Portage La Prairie, MB, 1887
William McFarlane Notman
1887, 19th century
Silver salts, frosting on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  farming (278) , Industry (942) , Machine (63) , Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

In the 1830's, the American Cyrus McCormick invents the mechanical reaper. In 1889, the Charter Gas Co. of Chicago builds the first tractor. And in that span of time, numerous other gasoline or steam-powered machines are developed for use in agriculture. Canadian farmers in the Western provinces are among the first to employ these machines.

In addition, artificial fertilizers, introduced in 1842 in Rothamsted, England, by John Bennett Lawes to increase the production of turnips, will soon revolutionize agriculture. The use of fertilizers in farming becomes more widespread during the 1880s.

Not only the diversity but also the quantity and quality of agriculture production is increased. During the last three decades of the century, farmer's markets are stocked with all sorts of vegetables and fruits.

With crops growing ever larger, hope grows among Canadians that the great scurge on humanity - famine - will soon be conquered. But this optimism is, it seems, premature.

Source : Brand New and Wonderful: The Rise of Technology [Web tour], by Jacques G. Ruelland, Université de Montréal (see Links)

  • What

    Among grain producers in North America, the steam-powered thresher is an invaluable tool. The new machines are a real boon to farmers.

  • Where

    The Province of Manitoba is created in 1870. The Prairies are soon producing such large quantities of grain that they become known as the "Breadbasket of the World".

  • When

    In 1862, the American L. O. Colvin develops the milking machine. Also that year, in France, Louis Pasteur invents pasteurization. These two inventions are fundamental to the creation of the dairy industry - an industry that will become especially important in Quebec. Good quality milk is essential to the health of children.

  • Who

    Immigrants fleeing hardship in their native lands start to flood into the Western provinces. There they find not only social peace but also rich farmland.