Travelers on the Trans-Canada Highway just east of Winnipeg can visit more than just the heart of the continent.
Pete’s Center Canada Heritage Museum is located right next door to the longitudinal centre of Canada.
Owner Pierre Pelland has been collecting and displaying antique vehicles, tractors, and other farm equipment on his property for the last ten years. He said the idea came to him one day when he saw a semi driving down the highway with a trailer full of tractor parts and scrap metal.
“I figured Winnipeg doesn’t have a decent heritage museum. So I figured I’m going to build one. And I did,” said Pelland.
Pelland said the decision to start the museum was also brought on after he had a stroke.
“It was a pretty bad one,” he said. “I figured I want to leave my mark on this world. And I came up with creating what you see here now.”
Pelland has collected a large number of tractors, thrashers, and other farming equipment, all built before 1950. He said the machinery built back then was very different from what farmers use today.
“A lot of it was horse-drawn and pure mechanical, like no hydraulics or anything,” said Pelland. “So it’s pretty neat how they did it back then.”
While he wouldn’t consider the equipment rare, Pelland said not a lot of people keep their old tractors. “Most farmers they bury it in the back forty, nobody ever sees it again,” he said, adding that most old tractors are melted down for scrap.
His favourites are the thrashing machines. Pelland has a both a large and medium-sized thrashing machine in his collection, but says the small ones are hard to come by. “They all have the basic same principle, but everybody carried their own little design,” he said.
Pelland has collected a large number of tractors, thrashers, and other farming equipment, all built before 1950. (Source: Daniel Timmerman, CTV News)
Pelland said he even had one visitor recognize a machine from their childhood.
“All of a sudden he breaks down in tears. I was shocked, I had no idea why he was crying,” Pelland said.
“He recognized his piece of machinery, and he even pinpointed one of the parts that broke so that he knew that it was his machine for sure.”
The museum is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and admission is free. Pelland said he has all sorts of different people visiting, including wedding photo shoots, university art students, and even a zombie movie once.
“That was pretty neat, they were here about 3:00 a.m. in the morning with fogging machines and red lights and yellow lights and zombies,” said Pelland.
He said people can take anywhere between 30 minutes to several hours to look at all of the equipment. All he asks is that they be respectful and not damage they displays.
Pelland said he’s very proud of his museum. “It’s a labour of love it was a lot of fun doing it.”
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