Glory Days of Carleton Place–So What Happened to the Moore Steam Engine?




This was part 1-The Old Steam Engine Tractor on Mullet Street

Janine McDonald Azzouz is our guest editor of the day with the added comments by Carol McDonald. Here is an update on the Mullet Street Steam Engine. Thank you Janine and Carol!

There probably aren’t many people interested in steam engines these days but they were a big part of my grandpa’s life and it’s nice to see the story put together correctly so the details aren’t lost! Someday when his engine is restored (maybe by late 2016-17) we will definitely go visit it and send you more pictures!

My mom came up with this list of names or the men that worked on steam engines during my grandpa’s time. Just in case you come across their names during your research – here they are! Men in this area like Carmen Hogan, Finlay McEwen, Eldon Henderson, Ernest Giles , George Marshall James Dobbie and Desmond Moore have helped to keep the era of steam alive for the future generation.

Below is the email exchange between Carol and Brian who is restoring it. It’s a long read but well worth it.  You can find the Ontario Heritage Museum online in a newspaper article but as Janine said I don’t think that they have their own web site.

This is from Carol McDonald:

I am Carol McDonald , oldest daughter of Desmond and Jean Moore (both deceased). They owned the Sawyer & Massey traction steam engine that sat in the back yard at 190 Morphy Str. Carleton Place Ont.  Dad worked for the CPR as a fireman for some years and  enjoyed the steam era machinery, therefore when he had a chance to purchase the engine in the 60s there was no stopping the purchase.

He loved taking it out , taking the kids for a ride, putting in the belt to saw wood or run the threshing machine, he even lit it one New Year’s Eve to blow the whistle at midnight! Later years it was a conversation piece , as many people stopped in to chat about it which dad and mom always loved. It was sold to Brian Walsh in 2008 after dad died, to be restored to original state. I have been in touch with him and he has sent a letter back to me which I am forwarding to you. Thanks for your interest and work on the history of our town and its people.

From Brian Walsh


Nice to speak with you.

Restoring the “engine” over the past years has brought me in touch with its early history and keeps my conversations with Des tack sharp. Every single minute of the restoration respects Des’ memory and I feel his smile whenever I walk through the barn where I restore the engine. I have restored the injectors to new condition and that moment they breathe life into the boiler will be so sweet.

The Engine is a “Sawyer&Massey” and it was built in Hamilton, Ontario circa 1911. It is a 17 1/2 Horse Power, single speed engine. There are five Sawyer 17 1/2 HP remaining, in any condition at all, that I am aware of in Ontario and only one that I am aware of is still operating. All of the engines were built between the late 1890’s and 1926. This engine is different from any of the other engines in its original condition. The firebox door is different from the others of the same manufacture.

The wheel configuration and size of both the main and front wheels distinguishes it from the other 17 1/2 hp engines as well. When the restoration is complete (sometime in 2016-2017) it will be the only restored Sayer & Massey with new boiler and firebox. The engine itself is quite rugged and with the newly re-manufacture boiler and firebox it will be an unstoppable powerhouse.

This steam traction engine was acquired by Des and maintained in running condition by him until the early 2000 era. Prior to taking home in Carleton Place it came out of Shawville, Quebec. Its ownership prior to Des purchasing it is unknown to me.

From the restoration that is currently in progress I can surmise that it saw an exceptional amount of “mileage” over its lifetime. Engines of this type were typically used in agriculture in Ontario. These self-propelled “road locomotives” as the British referred to them were used in Canada as mobile power plants, for saw mill propulsion, ploughing, and in particular to operate newly emerging threshing technologies. Due to their relatively high cost, most farmers could not afford outright ownership so they were typically “hired” out as “custom threshing” operations.

The steam engineer and threshing crews traveled from farm to farm with a threshing machine in tow. There is evidence this steam traction engine had a serious “road accident” and a makeshift repair has carried it for many years. Intense use wore the main axle stubs so significantly that they required re-manufacture. The pinion gears on both sides, required re-manufacturing as well as they were evenly worn and so significantly so that it indicates the engine was most likely used for “custom threshing”, and likely traveled from farm to farm, which would account for the exceptional wear of the pinions. The 17 1/2 is one of the smallest traction engines built by any manufacturer. Engines under 25 HP were typically “side-mount” as is this engine, so it would not have been used for ploughing on account of this configuration and also, the relatively higher horsepower required of a ploughing engine.

Cast iron and metal waste away with time and the condition of the boiler & firebox at the time that photo were taken, would not hold water let alone to safely hold the pressure of steam to operate. Most of the parts of the steam locomotive were badly corroded and were just “hanging-on” by 2008. Des Moore, a most gentle man from the age of steam, kept this little engine alive for the latter half of the 20th Century, and bestowed it to me to restore.

The restoration has been in progress now since 2008 and in that time the locomotive has been completely disassembled, the parts and pieces individually repaired or remade and the re-assembly is now underway. Providence may allow a glimpse of the engine making steam once again by the New Year. The complete restoration to original condition calls upon technologies from the age of steam that have all but been lost to us today. Mullet doesn’t do the little engine justice.

I may name the engine Titan when it is brought back to life, in honour of Des.Brian


About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

2 responses »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s