Video footage shot and compiled by Paul Janes.
In 1928, Carlyle Searson’s grandfather bought a Sawyer-Massey steam engine and threshing outfit. When Carlyle’s father, George, was 18, he and his brother Bob took over the threshing outfit, and George made his living with the thresher and farming. Since the steam engine was sitting idle through the off season, George decided to make use of it.
He bought a saw mill from the Saunders family at the old village of Sutorville in 1934. The Saunders family had purchased the mill new in the United States in 1875. George set up and worked the mill on the 12th line of Brooke Twp., but in 1936 he bought the property at the south end of Watford, moved the mill there and was again in the lumber business. During World War II George was a huge contributor to the war effort, milling wood for Mac Craft boat works at Point Edward.
George passed away in 1977 and the mill sat idle until about 1982 when Carlyle did some rebuilding and started it up again to do custom work. He and his brother Darryl ran the mill as a hobby. Carlyle’s son Jason is now also involved. Over the years the hobby has turned more
to steam, and the mill is a way to use some of the steam engines.
The whole Searson family, now including Carlyle’s grandchildren, makes five generations that have come to love steam engines. They all participate in Steam Thresher Shows across Ontario and into the United States where they attend the National Threshers show in Wauseon, Ohio. Carlyle says that they started taking the engines to shows in 1978 and have been going ever since. The 1875 equipment is still in use to cut lumber.