From The Scrap Book
August 3, 1990
By: Dr. Bill Randall
Horse Hauling in Harvey
The Annual Harvey Fair Days due soon coming up. Most of the events will be centralized in the Agrena Complex. Even if it rains the horse-hauling will be watched by the avid spectators under the shelter of a roof.
Coming to Harvey in 1954, I soon became involved in the excitement of Fair Day, and even got to announce the event from the Bandstand. I could hardly believe the almost hysterical excitement enveloping the spectators; the teamsters; and even the horses!
Much has been said about the cruelty to the animals in such an event, and it is not my purpose to be judgemental on the subject. From earliest history humanity has seemed to derive great excitement from competitive demonstrations involving man’s control over animals – and when that control breaks down, and the animals reactions take over, then the drama, the suspense, the excitement, builds to almost hysterical levels.
For example, Ansom Clark of Hartland, had a big bay horse named Rowdy, paired with a not-so-wild black horse hooked to an 8,150 pound load. Only five teams out of seventeen starters were left. This was a critical pull and Ansom, assisted by Don Hallett as spreader-hooker, were trying to stimulate their team to do its utmost. Rowdy reacted, and with one powerful sweep of his left, rear hoof he broke two of Ansom Clark’s ribs. The crowd cheered, whether in sympathy for Ansom or in support of Rowdy, I don’t know, but another teamster continued – though the 2,990 pound teams could not make the pull.
Earlier that morning Harry Corey, assisted by Maurice Lister, weighed in the teams. The lightest was James Browns’ of Moncton, weighing 2,575 pounds while the heaviest team was owned by Malcolm Chisholm of Oak Hill, weighing in at 3,395 pounds. Of course Eldon Merchant, from Bocabec, was there – remember the little, short-stemmed pipe he always smoked? Eldon was one of the smaller teamsters but when that pipe was puffing, he was one of the best. Tom Kyle was probably one of the biggest, and late on a hot Wednesday afternoon when the excitement was building, his hair matched his complexion and you wondered if his suspenders would last!
Prize money wasn’t all that great according to present-day standards: First Prize; Don Hallett of Hartland, $100.00; Second Prize; Byron Gordon of Keswick, $75.00; and in a tie for third Harold Shaw of Cold Stream, and Fddie Tracy of Harvey, split $50.00.
Horse-hauling in Harvey was a real attraction, at what is probably one of the most successful one-day Fairs in the province. It began, being organized as a means of raising money, to sup port the out-post hospital which had been donated to the community by the Taylors. Gray Morecraft remembers it clearly. It was held in October about fifty feet from the edge of the lake; the day began with rain, changed to snow, then to rain again all the while being accompanied by a cold wind from the lake. There were only five teams entered and a little team of grey horses won it. One horse belonged to Edgar Coburn and the other to Kenneth Robison.
Prizes weren’t all that great at the time, actually they were items donated by merchants from as far away as Fredericton. Arnold Feeney and Trueman Graham had solicited merchandise and the prizes would vary from a bag of flour to two horse collars. Austin Pollock had driven into Fredericton with a tarpaulin covered truck and picked up the items and at the conclusion of the horse-pulling, Harry Corey and Maurice Lister had to climb in the back of the truck and sort out the items to establish suitable prizes. Maurice remembers that early evening in October very well. He recalls, “I don’t think I’ve ever been so cold. Harry and I had been standing around all afternoon in snow and rain with that bitter-cold October wind blowing off the lake. Harry and I headed for the Taylor Hall where supper was being served, but there was still a line-up of people waiting to get in, and Harry says, “I just can’t stand this cold anymore, let’s go in through the kitchen door.” Inside it was steamy hot, but it still took us about ten minutes to get thawed out enough so that our teeth stopped chattering.”
The famous Fair-Day Supper was served; MLA, Harry Ames and the Honorable Norman Buchanan expressed their congratulations to the community and Earle Swan, President of the Harvey Community Hospital, accepted the congratulations. The Burtt’s Corner Band later performed thus ending a successful horse-pull.
Source: Rev. Bill Randall’s “From The Scrapbook Vol. One.”