The Supply Post: Canada's #1 Heavy Construction Equipment & Commercial Truck Newspaper Since 1971

Historical Society Preserves Canadian Construction Heritage

Aug 28, 2013 - 6 years ago

By Supply Post

By Mark Wolfe

Those schooled in Canadian history would easily recognize the names Jacques Cartier and Samuel de Champlain. And most (if not all) Canadians would know Sir John A. Macdonald. But how many people have heard of a Baker Manny H Self Loading Scraper? What about a Koehring 301 Clambucket?

Although our historical forefathers remain important figures in the creation of the country, Canada’s growth and development is also a direct result of the unsung people who laboured with their machines to build the country we know today. And this story can be found in the hearts and minds of the 350 volunteer members who make up the Historical Construction Equipment Association of Canada (HCEA), a group formed in 1996 dedicated to preserving the antique equipment of the past while recording the construction history of Canada for the next generation.

The non-profit HCEA has spent the last 17 years expanding and restoring their collection of artifacts, including the horse-drawn equipment used at the turn of century through to the diesel equipment used in the 1940s and 1950s. With approximately 45 pieces of equipment, 75 per cent of which are operational, some artifacts are the only machines of their kind in existence. “Our circa-1917 Buckeye Trencher is among the oldest pieces of construction equipment still around,” says HCEA Canada President, Frank Rooney. “We are also very proud to have two built-in- Montreal vintage Dominion Shovels in operating condition.” HCEA volunteer members have also spent more than three years restoring a 1929 Adams #10 Grader, a labour of love that required the overhaul of every major component including the engine, transmission, gear boxes, and moldboard.

Although many of the HCEA members are from the construction sector — operators, mechanics, welders, and others — there are also lawyers, accountants, and teachers who are involved. “Many realize that an effort should be made to preserve our Canadian construction heritage,” Rooney says. “HCEA Canada provides a unique opportunity.”

The organization operates in partnership with the Simcoe County Museum near Barrie, Ontario. The Museum provides a home for all the equipment, and is the site for shows and demonstrations. In addition to more formal volunteer duties, such as demonstrating and operating the historical equipment for visitors at annual events, members can also serve on a variety of committees, work at the Museum, or take on a restoration project. Rooney says that there are an unlimited number of tasks to fit every kind of interest and skill level. “Preservation of heritage is essential,” he says. “As my old uncle used to say, ‘Well, son, hard to tell where you’re going if you don’t know where you came from.’”

News Archive