“I believe this was staged,” Kevin Wood says of a farmyard photograph that was taken circa 1920.
But staged or not – and I think Wood is right – the old photograph captures a pivotal time on farms in Kings County; a time when farming was changing drastically (becoming motorized for one thing) and a time when the horse and ox were still being used alongside the recently introduced tractors that eventually would replace them.
That’s saying a lot about a black and white photograph of what was once the Oscar Chase farm on Highway #358, a couple of kilometres north of the Port Williams bridge. I’d like to think this was the work of photographer A. L. Hardy (1860-1935) who operated out of Kentville for several decades. But whoever the photographer was, someone spent a lot of time setting up a scene representing the old and new in farming. Horses and old hay rakes, oxen hitched to a cultivator, one of the first types of tractor used in Kings County …. the old photograph has it all and its purpose, intended or not, tells the story of how farm equipment and farm operations evolved over the years.
Most of the farm buildings shown in the photograph still stand today. This is the property of Kevin Wood, a teacher and antique tool collector who plans to open a museum on the farm. The photograph came from Wood’s collection.
Now, on the photograph, let’s look at the scene it depicts. At the far left of the photograph is a wagon loaded with what appears to be spray gear. The wagon, a sloven, is believed to have originated in New Brunswick, possibly in the 18th century or even earlier. Moving right, a single horse is hitched to an old style hay rake. Then there’s a team of horses hitched to a wagon piled high with hay.
To the right of the team, with a cultivator attached, is a tractor. This likely is the American built Cletrac, which was introduced into the Annapolis valley around 1918 by George Chase of Port Williams. To the right of the tractor, and still handy at the time on the farm, is a team of oxen with a cultivator hitched to them.
Now comes the most interesting part of the photograph. Is that Oscar Chase himself sitting in what appears to be Model T Ford car? The car is parked in the entrance to the farm and facing it is horse and wagon (a buckboard?) with two ladies holding the reins. This represents the old and new in transportation and the photographer undoubtedly had this in mind when he composed the scene.
Everything in the photograph represents the old and the new and this is what makes the picture fascinating. Showing how farming and transportation were changing in Kings County, and letting us see how people young and old wore for clothing about 100 years ago, makes the photograph priceless. Enough said.