Bill Vernon started collecting vintage engines, tractors and farm equipment "before I was married” – and he’s been married to wife Brenda for 54 years.
Vernon started with one-cylinder gas engines – “one-lungers,” he said – then moved on to tractors (“some running, and some not”), farming equipment, even a small steam engine.
Coming from a farming background, Vernon had a lot of opportunities to pick up items at auction sales or before they came on the market. As his collection and his interests grew, he joined the Georgian Bay Steam, Auto, Gas, Antiques Association, better known as the Georgian Bay Steam club.
A member for 50 years, he has served on the board of directors, helping out each year at the Georgian Bay Steam Show.
Over the decades, Vernon has used his carpentry and welding skills to restore the equipment and tractors that have filled his barns and yards. But now the projects are piling up and he admits he’s not getting any younger.
That’s why he finally made the decision to sell his collection, and contacted auctioneer Bob Severn.
An auction date has been set for Sept. 14 at the Vernon barn, Line 9 and 5 Sideroad.
“Everything’s going,” Vernon said: antique gas engines, a small upright boiler steam engine, threshing machine and other farming equipment, sawmill, a fully-restored CNR baggage wagon, backhoe, and tractors – including a steel wheel McCormick Deering 1020, and his favourite, a 1945 McCormick Deering WD9.
There’s even a small camper that Vernon transformed into a kind of moveable sales booth. It was built for the Beeton Lions Club, before the club folded. It would still be perfect as a stand to sell sweet corn or vegetables at farmgate, Vernon said.
He admitted that selling off his collection was a difficult decision. “It’s pretty hard… but it’s got to be done,” he said. “Somebody else may as well have some fun.”
That’s not to say he isn’t still tempted by items that come up for sale, but so far he’s managed to resist bringing home any “new” antiques.
The auction begins at 10 a.m. on Sept. 14, with viewing before the bidding begins. The Bond Head Lions Club will provide food with a barbecue, dessert, pop or coffee available to purchase.
A full description of the items, including about 15 vintage tractors and “articles too numerous to mention” is available online.
Vernon wants to make one thing perfectly clear. “We’re just downsizing. We’re not moving,” he said. And the windmill in the yard is not for sale.