Jenna Hauck/ Progress file                                Frank Van den Dorpel tries unsuccessfully to start a 1910 International Harvester gasoline engine during the Atchelitz Threshermen’s Association (ATA) open house back in March.

Jenna Hauck/ Progress file Frank Van den Dorpel tries unsuccessfully to start a 1910 International Harvester gasoline engine during the Atchelitz Threshermen’s Association (ATA) open house back in March.

Atchelitz Threshermen’s Association celebrating best year ever

Membership skyrockets along public interest and project planning

Another year is in the books for the Atchelitz Threshermen’s Association, and it was one of the best ever, says ATA president Ray Ramey.

They had more new and returning guests through their gates than in years past, and upgraded the Pioneer building with a concrete floor. That was made possible through a Canada 150 grant worth $50,000, replacing the original dirt floor that their collection of trailers and historic machines have been sitting on for decades. The upgrade also allowed them to make the entire building wheelchair accessible, opening up a whole new world of discovery for everyone.

“This has been one of our most phenomenal years,” Ramey says.

One of the most exciting developments though, is the sharp increase in membership. That’s because it is the members who bring the association to life, Ramey says. This year, about 30 new members brought their numbers up to about 110. That’s 30 more people who can enjoy being a part of the “great atmosphere of the place,” Ramey says.

The ATA has a few acres of land, tucked between Atchelitz Creek and Chilliwack Heritage Park. They’ve been there since 1984, as safekeepers of the city’s past through the collection, preservation, operation and exhibition of artifacts related to the history of Chilliwack and farming in the area. By strolling through the Pioneer building, you can easily imagine milk trucks making their daily deliveries to houses along Spadina Avenue, and horses pulling tractors to work the land in Ryder Lake.

There’s also the original Canora building that houses the Canora engine, and about 30 different buildings, each with their own unique look and feel.

Ramey says the entire ATA site owes its being to its past members, who had the foresight to form an association and start preserving history when they did. It wasn’t long after that, that technology really started to change the way things are done on farms, and in machinery in general. Now, new generations of those founding members are able to visit the site and reminisce about their loved ones.

There are stories, photographs and items from Chilliwack’s past that augment the Chilliwack Museum collection, with a focus on farming. But there’s also a living and breathing operation at the heart of the ATA site. Members are at the site daily, working with tools and equipment there, often as retirees or hobbyists. The uptake in members could be because people are downsizing, Ramey says, or because people are realizing the value in honouring the past.

Either way, it’s brought extra excitement to the site lately, and got the membership thinking about future plans. They are working closely with the British Columbia Museum Association, and hoping to bring in portable interactive exhibits from other museums — a great bonus for the local students who make regular trips to the museum site.

Ramey loves the way the ATA site brings different generations together, whether it’s older mechanics sharing their knowledge with the newer, younger members, or volunteers at the museum leading children through the site.

One of the other big goals for the new year is going to be opening up for Sundays, when people are more likely to have free time to amble around. Open hours are completely reliant on their membership roster — there are no paid positions within the ATA, and member hours hit about 7,000 this year with about 15,000 visitors.

They also have hopes to get their steam engine running — a rare but worthy venture that is estimated to cost about $80,000. They’ll be applying for grants, and have a donation board on site. Donations will also help with upgrades to Granma’s Grill, upgrades to the machine sheds roof, and some cement flooring for the machine sheds.

To learn more about the Atchelitz Threshermen’s Association, visit them online at www.atchelitz.ca.

READ MORE: Turn back time at Chilliwack Threshermen’s site

Just Posted

Chilliwack’s Jordyn Huitema, a member of the Canadian national women’s soccer squad.
Another scoreless draw for Chilliwack’s Jordyn Huitema and Canadian national women’s soccer squad

Canada played Brazil to a 0-0 tie days after doing the same in a friendly against the Czech Republic

FVRD surveyed public opinion on cannabis production and processing in the electoral areas. Odour and distance from residential areas were the top concerns. (Black Press file)
Cannabis production and processing rules being drafted by Fraser Valley Regional District

Data from public opinion survey will be used to guide cannabis-related land use

Robert Nelson, 35, died after being stabbed at a homeless camp in Abbotsford on April 7 of this year.
Mom pleads for information about son’s killing at Abbotsford homeless camp

Robert Nelson, 35, described as ‘man who stood for justice, honour, respect’

Chilliwack firefighters watch as an O’Connor Towing operator removes a stolen Volkswagen station wagon from the Fraser River off Cannor Road in west Chilliwack on June 13, 2021. (William Snow photo)
PHOTOS: Stolen vehicle dumped in Fraser River in Chilliwack Sunday

Search and Rescue determined there was no one inside the car found upside down off Cannor Road

Police arrest the suspect in an attempted armed bank robbery on June 2 at the Scotiabank at Gladwin Road and South Fraser Way in Abbotsford. (Photo by Garry Amyot)
Abbotsford bank robbery suspect who was stopped by customers faces more charges

Neil Simpson now faces total of eight charges, up from the initial two

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Most Read