Northern Iron

Excitement for old engines is contagious in the 'Niagara of the North'


'Above: Don Gough, founder of the Kakabeka Tired Iron Club, with his 12 HP Fairbanks-Morse Model C at the Kakabeka Legion. The engine is throttle-governed and was used to drive a compressor in Musquash, New Brunswick. The compressor supplied air to blow a fog horn. Don traveled to New Brunswick in September 2007 to locate the lighthouse and compressor, but all that remains is the foghorn’s distant echo somewhere on the ocean. '

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About 15 miles west of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, near the northern most part of Lake Superior, sits Kakabeka Falls, the "Niagara of the North." Within sight of the mist from the 125-foot falls is the village of Kakabeka, now home to the Kakabeka Tired Iron Club.

In a 10-mile arc of the falls to the southwest are numerous hamlets, where country fairs are held. Dan Gough, who came here from eastern Ontario, brought his 12 HP Fairbanks-Morse to one such event, the Hymers Fall Fair during Labor Day weekend, 1996. He roped himself off, started his engine and put up a sign on a piece of plywood for anyone interested in starting a club to sign. By the end of the weekend, he had 11 pages of names and comments, and the Kakabeka Tired Iron Club was born.

Today, there are close to 50 members who go to local fairs, plowing matches and museums. There are a variety of engines from big to small, air-cooled, homemade, steam, foreign and some made in Canada. Between the members, there are more than 200 engines and the shows usually have 15-20 engines on display.

The engines we have aren't as rare as some in the states but some unique ones are being acquired. We would like to thank the suppliers of parts in the United States for their dedication to the hobby. Without them, we wouldn't be able to run some of our engines.

Contact David Gillis at 329 Conyers St., Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada P7A-1K2 • (807) 683-8275