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Max Bradshaw (1900 - 1992)

One of Alberta's many agricultural innovators, Max Bradshaw, in creating his Bale Booster and Stacker, took part in the mechanization of farming in the middle of the last century. 

 

In the late 1940s, Max Bradshaw, owner of the Birdseye Ranch at Mountain View, Alberta, was tired of struggling to find a crew of men to load and stack hay bales. It seemed such strenuous work that, even with the help of an "Iron Man" stacker, which lifted the bales into stacks with hydraulic power, workers were not interested in returning for a second season.

 

Bale BoosterBradshaw, born in Lehi, Utah in 1900, was a life-long farmer, and having immigrated to Canada with his family when he was only one year old, was farming full time by the time he had completed grade eight. Similar to other agricultural innovators of the time, he witnessed the advent of mechanized farming implements during the first half of the 20th century and understood that there was no point doing work manually if one could create a machine to do it. There was, he realized, a need for a machine that could both pick up and stack hay bales.

Maxwell Bradshaw with a Mechano model version of his Bale Booster, 1949In 1948, as autumn descended upon the prairies and his ranch slipped into dormancy, Max Bradshaw retreated to the den in his basement. He had recently procured a toy truck that could be wound up for power as well as a few Meccano sets. With these tools, he was determined to design a small-scale working model of a machine able to lift and stack hay bales.

By springtime, Bradshaw had completed his task. He took his model to George B. Davies at the Lethbridge Iron Works where they began constructing the first full scale prototype. Finished in time to use in the fields that season, Bradshaw soon had proof his invention was highly productive.

The Bradshaw Bale Booster in action, 1949Without wasting any time, Bradshaw travelled to Vancouver and convinced Mid-West Equipment Ltd. to manufacture 30 units—they all sold. However, shortly thereafter, a machine able to deal with the large, round hay bales was put into production. As Bradshaw’s machine was designed to only handle the smaller, rectangular bales, no more were manufactured.

Bradshaw’s inventive streak was not limited to the bale booster and stacker. He also built a wooden calf squeeze long before others were on the market. While he never received a patent for this, it is still being used by the family. In addition, he created a board game patented under the name of Roll-o-Max.

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