The Western Ontario Steam Thresher’s Association Mission
Our purpose is to preserve and honor our agricultural heritage. We provide an opportunity for the men and women in our communities to remember our past in an environment of genuine fun and excitement.
The Western Ontario Steam Thresher’s Association is the oldest club of its kind in Ontario and has been described as the “Best Steam and Heritage Show in Canada”. We are proud of our founding members and the rich heritage of devoted individuals who have contributed countless hours to build and maintain the Western Ontario Steam Threshers Association.
The idea of a Steam Threshing Show in Western Ontario was first suggested by Charles Spicer to some of his friends, during 1955, and after a great deal of talking of their desire, they finally made the decision to hold a Steam Engine Show in August 1957, at the Stewart and Clara Hunter farm, located east of Corunna, Ontario, on the 10th line of Moore Township, Lambton County. The founders of this event were Charles Spicer, Stewart Hunter, Hugh Chisholm and Carl West. On exhibition were two Sawyer-Massey steam engines and a Case steam roller owned by Charles Spicer from Corunna, and a John Goodison steam engine owned by Carl West from Sarnia. Over 500 people showed up to see the activities and grain threshing, the first of its kind in Eastern Canada. This was the beginning of the Steam and Antique shows and reunions of the Western Ontario Steam Threshers Association (WOSTA).
According to written records, on February 14, 1960, a meeting was held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Spicer, officers were elected with Hugh Chisholm as the first President, Mrs. Carl West as Secretary, and Mrs. Charles Spicer as Treasurer. Carl West was the Chairman of the Board of Directors, with Board members – Ben Scaman, Jack White, Stewart Hunter, George Searson, Charles Spicer, A. V. Wright, Ted West, Walter Davis, Wm. Dawson and James Hunter.
The 1957 Corunna Show
CORUNNA, Aug. 2, 1957 — The huffs and puffs of yesteryear sounded over a Corunna district farm field today as four old steam engines snorted through
a job of threshing and a leisurely race.
Part of a campaign to start a club for old-time steam engine enthusiasts, the show today was held on the farm of S. C. Hunter, east of Corunna. It will resume tomorrow.
Three of the steamers are owned by Charles J. Spicer, of Corunna and the fourth by Carl West of Sarnia.
In the race, run between threshing trials, one of Mr. Spicer’s steamers puffed across the finish line unchallenged when Mr. West’s entry developed mechanical trouble.
The first steam engine race at Corunna, Ontario, Aug 2, 1957.
Mr. Spicer, organizer of the show, said it is the first of its kind in Ontario, but said in Michigan and Ohio, similar demonstrations are becoming increasingly popular. A life long steam power enthusiast, Mr. Spicer has been superintendent of the Polymer corporation’s steam powered electric generators at Sarnia.
Among his three steamers, is a Sawyer Massey engine built in Hamilton 35 years ago. With this and his two other machines, Mr. Spicer hopes to form the nucleus of an old-time steamers club to present regular shows throughout Lambton, Kent, Middlesex and other Western Ontario counties.
The first show in 1957 on Stewart Hunter’s farm near Corunna, Ontario was a qualified success with about 500 visitors attending- expenses for the show far exceeded the gate receipts. This was discouraging, but the founding members pitched in to make sure all of the bills were paid. The regular show did not proceed in the following year. However, a scaled down version was held in 1958 at Carl West’s place on London Road, Sarnia Township. Neighbours pitched in to help with grain threshing using Mr. West’s John Goodison engine and an antique Champion separator brought by George Searson and Hugh Chisholm from the Goderich museum to make the day an enjoyable affair. The day concluded with an oldtime threshers dinner prepared by Mrs. West.
The 1958 event seemed to raise the enthusiasm of the founders and their friends. In August of 1959 the show returned to Stewart Hunter’s farm with much larger crowds and expenses were met. The founders decided that the project was certainly worthwhile and on February 14, 1960, the Western Ontario Steam Threshers’ Association was formerly instituted at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Spicer. The officers elected were Hugh Chisholm as President, Mrs. Carl (Margaret) West as Secretary, Mrs. Charles (Beatrice) Spicer as Treasurer. Carl West was elected Chairman of the first Board of Directors which included Ben Scaman, Jack White, Stewart Hunter, George Searson, Charles Spicer, A. V. Wright, Ted West, Walter Davis, William Dawson and James Hunter.
The popularity of the show increased, the attendance grew, as well as the number of exhibits. After the 1961 show, it was apparent that this annual event had outgrown the Hunter farm. The Petrolia Fair Board was contacted and the WOSTA board decided to hold the 1962 show at the Greenwood Park in Petrolia, Ontario where it stayed for three years. Model steam engines, old tractors, gasoline engines and antique cars were exhibited, as well as the regular steam engines. A parade was held through the main street of Petrolia to the Fairgrounds on the Saturday morning, and as everyone loves a parade, this drew crowds of people. In 1964 a change was made and the parade was held on the track in front of the grandstand on each day of the show. This seemed to be the beginning of varied activities, several of which are still used each year.
In 1965 the site of the show was changed again, and moved a few miles west to the Brigden Fair Grounds on Highway #80. In 1969 the 2-day show became a 3-day event. Now, the event is held annually the third week in August in Forest, Ontario.