James Flewwelling and a Modified Plough
At the turn of the 19th century, there was a considerable need for farming
implements to break land in central Alberta. Although Frank Van Slyke was
the originator of the most well known plough in the area, the demand was
so high that others, such as those built by James Francis Flewwelling came
By the time James Francis Flewwelling, or Frank, had arrived in the
Mirror, Alberta region, hed had many years of blacksmithing experience.
Born on a farm near Fergus, Ontario, he moved with his family to a spot
just outside of Kenton, Manitoba. Leaving home to train as a blacksmith, Flewwelling spent time in Hamiota, Manitoba, before returning to Kenton to
establish a blacksmithing business in the late 1890s. Shortly thereafter,
he married Charlotte Ann Hodgson, a seamstress from Ontario. The two had
their first child in Kenton, a baby girl who passed away shortly after her
birth. She was buried in the Greenwood Cemetery near their home.
Deciding to sell their business in Kenton, the Flewwellings moved to
Saskatoon from where James travelled across Canada selling various farm
implements. In 1910, he found himself at the land auction in the newly
established Mirror, Alberta. He purchased a few lots and was soon building
a new blacksmith shop to service the community. In addition to the
business, the Flewwelling family grew. In 1912, William Henry was born
and, soon after, twins Russell Abram and Francis Ross joined the family.
Shortly after Frank Van Slyke designed and patented his breaking plough,
Flewwelling obtained permission to build some in their likeness. Built at
the request of local families, such as the Murdochs of the Lake Bend
District, Flewwellings ploughs were constructed in 1915 and 1916, and
featured a few differences from the Van Slyke design. Flewwelling
constructed 11 of the ploughs in total. Although each of the ploughs was
sold to other families, in 1980, one of them was given back to the
Flewwelling family. It is currently stored near Red Deer.
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