By Tom Collins
CARDINAL — An Eastern Ontario farmer is looking to sell his herd of Massey Harris tractors.
Archie Martelle, who farms at Cardinal, between Brockville and Cornwall, started collecting the tractors about 40 years ago. He learned how to drive a tractor on a Massey Harris and fell in love with the machine.
“I drove one as a kid and I thought, ‘they’re an elite thing, you’ve got to be a millionaire to have one of them,’ ” he said, adding it would have cost about $800 to buy one new in the late 1940s. “You just kind of get the bug.”
He bought tractors, about two a year, from other farmers, spending at least a month to restore each one. He never used them himself. He just liked to have them.
A few years ago, he had as many as 60 tractors. Since then, he’s sold about half of them and has 28 left. At age 75, he’s slowing down and figures it’s time to part with the rest of them.
Martelle hopes to sell the remaining tractors for $1,500 to $2,500 each, but can come up with a deal if someone is willing to take them all.
“I’m in no hurry to sell them, but I do want to sell them,” he said. “I’d be lucky to get back some of the money I put into them.”
All of the tractors are from 1947 to 1953. He has one from the first year Massey Harris used rubber wheels, around 1947. He also has some tractors with a three-point hitch, which is rare to see on Massey Harris tractors as the hitches were ordered separately and many farmers didn’t bother with the extra expense.
He also has a few machines with a wide-adjustable front end, where the axles can be pulled out to make the machine about two feet wider.
Most of the tractors were owned by one farmer before Martelle purchased them. Farmers sold the machines as the farmers were retiring and moving into old-age homes.
“A lot of these old farmers that retired, they think more of that old tractor than they did their wife,” he said. “They hate to part with them.”
If interested in buying a tractor, call Martelle at 613-301-1747 or 613-657-1114.
EASTERN ONTARIO: Farmer selling Massey Harris tractor collection
By Tom Collins