By Ralph Barker – North Battleford, Sask.
In 1945, my father, John (Jack) Barker of Sandwith, Sask., found and bought an W4 International gas tractor and an eight-foot one-way discer. He arranged to have them shipped to Sandwith on the short CNR rail line from North Battleford to Medstead. This was his first fairly modern tractor and he was excited!
On one of our back quarter sections, there was a log barn which we hurriedly took apart, moved home, and reassembled into a garage and workshop for dad. We dug a sunken stove into the floor, surrounding and covering it with gravel, to heat up the oil in the tractor crankcase.
A forge was set up in one corner of the garage, and a workbench along one wall. We opened up one end of the garage to create a large swinging door and a smaller door at the other end of the building.
Here comes dad, home with his new baby, on hard rubber tires! During the war years, rubber tires were almost impossible to find. The sides of the tires were cut out and the remaining rubber was then bolted to the tire rims, with cement poured into the centre of each tire for weight.
After showing it off to mother and me, he decided to put it into the new garage. In it went. The next thing we heard was dad hollering: “Whoa, darn you! Whoa!” followed by a loud bang. The front of the tractor had hit the end of the garage.
I’m not aware of what happened. Bad brakes? Too many pedals? I think too many years of driving horses did it! Nobody let on that we had heard anything. We were all suddenly very busy with chores.
The tractor later seemed to be none the worse for wear.