For those who have yet to attend, the Labour Day weekend Steam-Era show at Country Heritage Park is a cornucopia of fun for both children and adults. Drew McGee, President of the Ontario Steam & Antique Preservers Association describes this magical time of year: “The arrival of September is always an exciting time. The kids return to school, there is a chill in the air, and Ontario’s agricultural heritage comes to life in Milton.” But before that, they visit the Steam-Era.
The Twiss-Williams family have been visiting the Steam-Era show their entire lives. Daughters Cadence and Josie love riding on the people movers as they circle the park, as well as viewing all of the display. Samantha Twiss and Michael Williams also love returning to see the classic Mechanics ferris wheel in the toy barn.
In addition to the permanent Country Heritage Park buildings and displays, the event was divided into sections that included vintage toys, a car show, farm equipment, tractor pulls, food stands, and a flea market of long forgotten tools and unique finds. John Wroniak is one such seller from the other end of the escarpment in Niagara. A former machinist of steam parts, his collection of odds and ends developed during a visit to a particularly successful garage sale, in which he gained both a truck full of loot, and a girlfriend to boot.
The event highlight of course, is the traction steam engines – lovingly restored to working order. Men in striped overalls and hats sliced wood consistently throughout the weekend to power the engines which took turns driving the park’s loop. The steam engines on display ranged in date from 1910-1930 (the portable machines before them were pulled out to field by animals, where they sawed or thrashed). Joe Foster’s traction engine is considered one of the “newest”, and was manufactured in Waterloo in 1928.
Engine owner Water Andruszko grew up beside a railroad, and always loved trains – he purchased “Ol’ Zack” from a friend who had passed away. He has participated in the Steam-Era show for almost ten years, and was joined this year by his wife Sandra, and his three grand-daughters.
Each day at 12 noon, all of the engine owners blew their whistles in unison – a celebration of historic preservation and a passion for the past.
Photos by: Denise Cooperwhite