Threshers Memorial Building honours those who have passed
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
After the successful construction and grand opening of the new Memorial Building in 2016, it has since become a full-fledged member of the Huron Pioneer Thresher and Hobby Association’s inventory of structures, hosting can’t-miss exhibits and attracting thousands over the course of every reunion.
The building took years of planning and construction, but the association finally had it built in 2016 with the help of Blyth-based contractor Mike Boven. That year the building had been framed and the trusses erected with just weeks to go before the reunion. It was complete in time for the reunion and was part of a grand opening ceremony that year with Huron-Bruce MP Ben Lobb, Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson, then-President Peter Hendriks and a number of other long-time members who had been instrumental in the building’s success like Edgar Daer and the late Paul Josling.
The seed for the idea was planted several years ago, long-time Secretary Marian Hallahan said, when money being left to the association began to accumulate. She said that money began to accumulate when long-time members of the Threshers passed away and left money to the association or when funeral donations in lieu of flowers for members were directed to the association.
The building also plays host to an antique cider press that was donated to the association a decade ago from someone near Ingersoll who felt the reunion would be a good home for the artifact.
In addition, it has become the defacto home to a number of other exhibits, including the Huron-Perth Trappers Association, which is Ontario’s oldest, and an artisan canoe maker, among others.
The decision to go ahead with the new building, says Edgar Daer, one of the driving forces behind the building, was made in 2015 when members decided to finally break ground on the project.
The hope for the building, Daer said, is to create one more covered space for exhibits on the grounds, but to also remember those who have passed away. A special memorial wall will honour those who were so instrumental in the success of the Threshers over the years.
The building now serves as an important location for the organization, says Daer, who adds that without many of these people who have passed on, there would be no association and no reunion, so they certainly deserve to be honoured and remembered.
The Citizen first reported on the concept of the building in 2015, but plans had been in the works for a number of years in one form or another, Hallahan said.
The concept of housing the antique cider press, Daer says, is one that falls in line with the work that’s done every year at the log cabin. It’s one more educational tool for the association, whether it be with the students on elementary student activity day or adults who have never seen an antique cider press at work.
Cider presses were common decades ago, Daer says, and farm families would make their own cider in the days before it had to be pasteurized.
The cider press will be another way to educate children in the way the Threshers encourage: hands-on education.
With a complicated job ahead, however, and the interruption due to 2017’s International Plowing Match in Walton, the artifact is still a work in progress, while still a sight to behold. The association, however, has since made significant progress on the press, with hopes of it being ready for next year’s reunion.
In addition to the cider press, Henry Hendriks has been involved in bringing a number of other working displays to the building since its opening.
From a practical standpoint, Hendriks also said that the building has been instrumental for association members in storing items indoors overnight during the reunion. Storage is a commodity for which association members are always on the lookout at the Blyth campground.