Two Old Farts and a Fat Guy – Tractor Day at Duncan Forestry Museum

Tractor Day! - Duncan Forestry Museum

Tractor Day! – Duncan Forestry Museum

June 16th was Father’s day. A sunny summery highly pleasant day, where good fathers all around Cowichan Bay were being feted for being… well for being so good. However, for Pete, Brian and myself, June 16th was a day of importance for a completely unrelated reason. It was Tractor Day at the Duncan Forestry Museum.

The three of us piled into the truck around noon and with the sun shining happily overhead we set off for the short trek to the Forestry Museum.

The parking lot was packed. It looked hopeless. However, just as we were beginning to despair a friendly fellow with a bit of a beard and who was wearing a brightly colored safety vest walked over to greet us. Yes, there was a parking space available, just over by the trees at the edge of the lot, and yes it was large enough for my pickup. Splendid.

At the gift shop there was admission to be paid. 16 dollars for me, and 14 dollars for the senior fellows in our small club. But wait a minute. It was Father’s day, said the young lady behind the cash register. Are you a Father? Pete and Brian have children so, yes indeed they qualified. 3 dollars please. And I? Nope. Not me. 16 dollars please. Well if that don’t beat all.

However, as with most volunteer run museum societies, the money goes to help maintain the grounds, the exhibits and pay the modest wages of the talented craftsmen they have on staff from time to time. it’s money very well spent.

The train station is just a few steps from the entrance building. We had seen all the exhibits there many times before, and so when the little Plymouth switcher arrived with it’s string of cars, we decided to step aboard for the ride to the far side of the grounds, where undoubtedly the action was beginning to heat up. The ride is gentle and quite entertaining. The little narrow gauge Plymouth (which is affectionately known as “The Green Hornet”) runs on gasoline and is by far more economical than the saddle tank steam locomotive they run at the height of summer. The 100 year old Vulcan steam switcher goes through bunker oil like it’s still 1925.

As we alighted from the passenger car, with Brian remarking that he really would have preferred a sleeper berth on the journey, we could already hear the sound of antique engine power. The chug, pop, click and clack, snap and occasional backfire could be heard. The grounds are large and there was a lot to see. From stationary engines and farm tractors to logging trucks and even a beautifully restored steam powered road roller, which ran back and forth all afternoon. It’s owned by the Museum and everyone wants to see it run or better still, wants to run it themselves. The members take turns. Such a privilege!

In due course, Brian found himself attracted by a 100 year old sash and door making machine, which was displayed on a small trailer. powered by an International Harvester tractor, the machine was a nest of spinning belts and revolving wheels, all to drive the many cutters that can turn a simple strip of wood into a window sash or door casing in a matter of seconds, all in one pass.

As for myself, I particularly enjoyed the display of McCormick Deering tractors, and the trailer with the little International Harvester Model M 1 1/2 hp stationary engine, smaller brother to the 3hp version I own myself.

After a light lunch on the grounds (more money for the society and it’s projects) we made our way back to the far station for the short train ride back to the main gate area. In the entrance building we toured the familiar exhibits once more, marveling at the beauty of the scale steam yarding donkey particularly. Then after having wandered about for the better part of three hours, we ambled footsore yet quite happy back to the pickup in the parking lot.

An Ice cream cone on the way home capped the trip which was declared a success by all concerned.

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  1. Sam Dawson
    June 17th, 2013 at 20:20 | #1

    I used to love goin to the Forest Center when I was a kid in the 80’s. My parents would take us up from Victoria and we’d spend the day. I really have to get up there again this summer. Thanks for the wakeup-call.

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