Collection Storage Facility
Acquisition from the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph, Ontario, in 1968
George White immigrated to Canada in 1857 and began making farm implements in London, Ontario. As George White & Sons Company Limited, the firm produced traction engines and threshers for the eastern and western Canadian markets. This White Thresher Model “No. 6” bears serial number 4241FJ. The casing has been cut away to expose the thresher’s mechanical operation, suggesting this machine was used for demonstration and marketing purposes.
Threshing machines separate grain from the harvested plant, which is reduced to straw and chaff. The first threshing machines were stationary: powered by hand or treadmill, they increased the amount of grain a farmer could separate in a day. Wheeled threshing machines began to replace stationary threshers in the 1860s and further mechanized grain harvesting. Threshers were initially built of wood and powered by horse-powered windlasses; they were later built of steel and powered by steam traction engines and gas tractors. Threshers were in turn replaced through the twentieth century by combine harvesters, which merged harvesting and threshing operations in one machine.
The White Thresher No. 6 represents the shift in the early twentieth century to all-metal construction, and suggests how technologies overlap, as threshers remained in production while combine harvesters were becoming more popular. You can view this thresher in operation at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFKlVD4vcWQ.
This threshing machine has had its side panels removed and is driven by an electric motor for use as a teaching aid by its previous owners, The University of Guelph. We're preparing it for demonstration as part of an upcoming exhibit at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum.
In use, the thresher would have been powered by a tractor or a stationary gasoline engine. As it's set up now, it's running at a fraction of its actual operating speed, allowing visitors to see the internal workings clearly and safely.