Ernie Giles Steam Engine Man

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Ernie Giles Steam Engine Man

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For 76-year-old Ernie Giles of Almonte, the International Plowing Match is a chance to prove that new doesn’t always mean better. Proudly blowing the steam whistle on his 1906 17-horsepower Sawyer Massey steam engine, Giles said, “Nothin’ beats these old engines. They run on wood and water. You can’t be more efficient than that.” At the plowing match’s antique and historic exhibit, about 75 old tractors, steam pumps and threshing mills were polished and gleaming as owners fired them up and demonstrated their skill. Chugging to life, the old engines coughed out black smoke and jerked unsteadily along the grass.

Grey-haired farmers reminisced about the old days as they watched the machines sputter and cough. “I remember using one of those when I was a youngster. They sure gave you a rocky ride,” said Giles, pointing to a passing tractor. Giles was more than happy to talk about his steam engine with interested spectators.

 

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Used for driving grain threshers, filling silos, crushing rock and sawing logs, these engines were popular right through the 1930s, he said. Giles bought his engine from an old Quebec farmer in 1964 and spent three years making new parts, cleaning and restoring it. “This sort of thing has always been in my family. My grandfather had a threshing outfit like this and I remember when I was about five or six I was quite anx ious to use it. “He said I was too young. But now I’ve got my own engine to play with.” Covered with a fine spray of black oil from the engine, Giles pushed back his cap and fondly . patted the steel wheel of the engine. “See the piston moving over here. And down here is where the steam builds up. “I’ve always been fascinated by engines and it’s a real joy just to watch it work.”

Giles said he’s used the engine for threshing several times since he restored it. “It was real old time farming. It took me right back to the ’30s. I could just see myself at 20, threshing the grain. “But back then of course you were lucky if you worked two days a week.” A member of the Golden Triangle Steam and Antique Preservers Association, Giles swears the old engines were better made than the new machines on the market. “They built them big and heavy and well. They were able to handle the job without breaking down every second day.” The noise and the smoke from the old engines were too much for some spectators, however. “I can’t imagine how anybody used one of these and survived,” said Esther Gordonson of Vars. “If the whistles and engine noise didn’t make you deaf, the smoke would kill your lungs.”

 

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About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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