Families stop at Orwell Corner to see how grain was harvested over a century ago


On Friday, a handful of Islanders were at the historic village of Orwell Corner to see how grain was harvested before modern machinery.

Demonstrations were held to show visitors to the heritage village of Vernon Bridge, PEI, what island life was like in the late 19th century.

This year’s Threshing Day event also showcased how Islanders made rope, loaded hay into barns and, of course, operated a threshing machine.

The village’s horse-drawn combine harvester is the main attraction, showing how farmers separated grain from chaff.

This is the first time the event has taken place since 2019. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

“People who are able to see this will be able to see how modern combines were born,” said Kevin MacLean, site manager at Orwell Corner.

“Sometimes we don’t know how it will work with some of these old things because we don’t use them all the time. But it worked really well.”

The demonstration of the first harvesting machines encountered some problems due to the thickness of the grass, but finally the combine harvester crossed the field with the help of a tractor.

“Sometimes we don’t know how it will work with some of these old things because we don’t use them all the time. But it worked really well,” said site manager Kevin MacLean. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

Barry Hogan is part of the Eastern PEI Antique Tractor club. The club has been part of Threshing Day for years.

“You pull your old threshing machine out of the barn, hook your tractor to it, and pray the belts stay in place and everything works,” Hogan said.

“You do it once a year, huh? So it’s hard to make everything work perfectly that day. Preparation. It takes a lot of preparation.”

It is the first time the event has been held since 2019. Organizers said the crowds were smaller this year as people were unsure it would go ahead.

A drone image shows the historic village of Orwell Corner on Thresher Day. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

“We decided last week actually that we were going to try to get the material out and try it out,” MacLean said. “So we will have a training [session] for next year, and hopefully we’ll have a better crowd.”

But MacLean said it was good to see people back in the village this summer, including families 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 very impressed,” Angelini said. “I’m glad I wasn’t there at the time because I don’t think I could have had a day’s work.”

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