“If you’re going to get married, you got to make sure your wife can cut wood,” explains George Sullivan as he points out the saw used to block up firewood.
He and his wife Ruth traveled from Cooke’s Cove in Guysborough County to Scotsburn Saturday because they heard that Allan Fraser would have a large number of antique farm and household items on display and they wanted to check them out. They weren’t disappointed.
The items, which spanned the 19th and early 20th century, were brought out of storage by Fraser as a way to raise money for Bethel Presbyterian Church. Proceeds will go to the general operation needs of the 150-year-old church.
Sullivan collects antique farm items himself and enjoyed looking at all the ones that Fraser had picked up over the years. He was amazed, in particular, to find a wooden horse drawn hay rake similar to one he has at his own home.
“In every museum I’ve ever been in I’ve never seen one before,” he said.
Fraser was proudly giving tours to all the guests who stopped by, explaining what each was and how it worked. Among the hundreds of items he’s collected, ranging from sleighs to an antique baby stroller, his favourite is an old make and break engine. It may sound like a car backfiring repeatedly when it runs, but as he demonstrated to those who came, it still works. It the old days a belt would have been attached to it to power a thrashing machine or other piece of equipment. Neighbours would have shared a machine like that, taking it from place to place and helping each other get their work done.
“The old people knew who their neighbours were,” Fraser said.
That camaraderie is one aspect he loves about the old days as much as he likes the machines those people built and used.
Fraser said he’s always had an interest in the old machinery and began collecting it in earnest about two decades ago. Now people come to him with items. His only problem is finding the space to keep it all.
“It’s the type of thing that grows on you,” he said. “Either you’re interested or you’re not interested.”
Dressed in the clothing of the era, Marie MacCrae welcomed people into a room with a warm wood stove and told about some of the items that would have been used in years gone by.
“The kids today growl about their curling iron,” she said picking up an antique item used for curling that literally is made of iron. “Can you imagine heating that up in the stove and curling your hair?”
She said she enjoys looking at the items herself and sharing some of the past with others.
“I think a lot of the people that come know the history behind all this stuff and it’s good for the younger people to know how hard the others had it,” she said.
For his part, Fraser was happy with the turnout and the opportunity to share his passion with others.
“I’ll be interested to read the guestbook and see what people have to say,” he said.
To see a video of the make and break engine at work, visit: http://www.ngnews.ca/News/Local/2012-10-27/article-3108710/Stepping-back-in-time/1