1895 Sawyer & Massey Steam Traction Engine-“History of a Very Useful Engine”

At the Horseless Carriage Museum, every exhibit has character, and a story. I would like to share with you the history of our 1895 Sawyer & Massey from the time she was created until she came home to us.
In 1895, the Sawyer & Massey Company was manufacturing these large steam engines in Hamilton Ontario and were sold all over Canada. Imagine the way these large tractors changed the face of farming from then on!
Our pretty little traction engine, the smallest model made by Sawyer & Massey at that time, was sold brand new and shipped to Bristol Quebec by train.
1895 sawyer & massey bobcaygeon museum

Our exact Model of Sawyer & Massey Engine, new in 1895 with a threshing machine in tow

Once in Quebec, she was put into service powering a threshing machine like the one seen above, to separate the grain from the straw. This was her primary job until about 1949. The engine did a brief five year stint on a Tobacco farm steaming seed beds until she was put up in a shed and forgotten about for almost 20 years.

Then, in 1973, a man by the name of Eric Campbell from Shawville Quebec, discovered her and brought her home to his shop for 3 years of loving restorations. The little old engine ran so well, Mr. Campbell used to her to thresh 100 acres of grain that very fall! She became his “beloved engine” and he is quoted as having said “She’s not big, but she sure is pretty and we are all proud of her.” So proud was he, that Eric would drive her 5 miles into town for the groceries!
Eric Campbell was the founder of the Pontiac Steam and Gas Assoc. of Quebec.  As such, he traveled to many Steam shows and Fairs with his little engine. It was at one of these steam shows about 25 years ago, that Dad (Richard Bennett) met Eric Campbell and was invited to run the little Sawyer. Dad was awestruck with the old gal, and the little Sawyer captured yet another heart. Of course Dad offered to purchase the engine, but Eric declined with the promise to keep Dad in mind should the day ever come to sell her.
The Sawyer went home with Eric and continued to thresh grain at Eric’s annual “Threshing bee” every year until about 2002. Tragically, Eric passed away in 2007, and the little engine remained in the shed.
In 2008, Dad was contacted by a close friend and was told that the engine was going to be available for sale. Mom and Dad literally dropped everthing, and left for Shawville Quebec early the next morning with a paper bag full of cash!  Dad was able to meet with  Eric’s daughter and negotiated the sale of the Sawyer & Massey. He and Mom saw the engine again for the first time in many years.
sawyer & massey traction engine bobcaygeon museum

The Sawyer & Massey as found in November 2008









Dad was anxious  to restore her to her former glory and he and Steve, with the help of their friend Allan, contacted Elliott’s trucking company to discuss bringing  her home. One week later she was being towed out of the shed on Eric’s farm and being loaded on the tractor trailer for the trip home. However that trip would come with it’s own difficulties!


sawyer & massey bobcaygeon museum
Loading on the trailer

The little Sawyer & Massey had been deemed a Quebec Historical piece and though she was privately owned and legaly sold,  the removal of any designated historical piece from Quebec is strickly prohibited. This wasn’t going to stop Dad. Thus they travelled every forgotten backroad they could navigate, at questionable speeds, racing towards the Ontario border before the Quebec Provincial Police could find out what was happening.


And so began the long trip home!

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Leaving Quebec


We were all so happy to see her arrive home safe and sound that wet and cold day in November of 2008.

sawyer & massey bobcaygeon museum
Arriving Home at the Horseless Carriage Museum

That very day, the restorations began, not only to the engine, but her water wagon as well. It took time, elbow grease, love and devotion, but just look at her now!!!

sawyer & massey bobcaygeon museum

The 1895 Sawyer & Massey at home with the Bennett Family.

“She’s not big, but she sure is pretty and we are all proud of her.”

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