By Jacqui Tripple (1996)
Horse drawn vehicles have become an enjoyable hobby for a retired man from Stoughton. “They think I’m crazy. A lot of people told me to see a psychiatrist when they heard what I was doing,” says Hugh Goudy with a smile and a gleam in his eye as he proudly shows off some of his original and restored buggies, cutters and sleighs.
As he walks through the Red Barn in his back yard that he built to store and display his hobby he pauses at each unit and has a story to tell about it. “This one here is the Cadillac of Santa Claus cutters. It’s a McLaughlin, just like the postcards”, he says, running a hand along the decorative dashboard. “See here, there’s a place to clean your feet before getting in”, he says, as he kneels down to show his visitor. “Very few of them come with doors,” he says opening the door. “And look, its got pressed wood on the side. We’re kind of proud of this (cutter).” He notes that all his buggies have decoration on the dashboard. “We were down in Ontario and went to see the Amish people. They don’t believe in decoration so they gave us some.”
Continuing on the tour he pauses at a stud cart and explains that this was used for travelling a stallion from one point to another, or from farmer to farmer. The horse pulled the cart and the stallion was led alongside. All of Hugh’s buggies, sleighs and cutters are McLaughlin’s with the exception of one “side spring” buggy designed by Studebaker. They date back to the late 1880s. “People were hard up in those years. Something like that would probably be a luxury. At a bright green wagon and box he explains that on his family farm in the early days it was used to haul grain. “We could haul 80 bushels. See that spring seat. A seat like that was a luxury; usually they would sit on a board.” He continues on to a three seated Democrat. “This one was used in 1894 or something. You could lift the seats out and it was used as an open hearse. They used it for regular travel too. There’s very few of these.”At a two seater Surrey democrat with fringe, he notes that the fringe would be a luxury. He points to the curled flatiron, called pig tails, and says they were used to support the top and as decorations.
One buggy made in 1928, was constructed entirely out of metal. “It was bought at Eaton’s for sixty some dollars, and there wouldn’t be any tax on it. The spokes are hickory and the rim of the wheels are oak. Amongst the antique units is a modern Surrey with a fringe that Hugh made about five years ago with the help of Art Dickie from Weyburn. Hugh’s wife Grace did the upholstery work, as she does on all the other pieces.” I thought I’d like a newer one, he says about this exception.” He notes that he made the wheels on all other vehicles except this modern one. A couple of units are also in his garage.
Everyone likes this one. It’s one from before 1911,” he says pointing to a buggy. “Someone said 1907, but they’re guessing mostly. People just seem to like it. “People went to school in buggies like this, but they didn’t have the topper.” He points to a box near the rear with a lid on top. “They’d put their groceries in here. Maybe the lid was to keep the mail from blowing out.”
The delivery wagon that is parked next to this buggy hauled mail from Forget to Handsworth in 1911. And speaking of mail, Hugh has a leather pony express bag dated March 12th, 1876. They delivered mail by horses back then and they would carry a bag like this,” he says holding it up. “I have another bag that they carried mail in, in Stoughton, from the train station to the post office.”
He also has a restored reaper that he is especially proud of. He says it was used around 1865, usually for cutting flax. “It threw it loose and then they’d go back with a team and rack and hauled itinto the threshing machines. I had this one in the parade once.” Several other antique tools and horse equipment decorate the inside of the Red Barn and garage. “Every thing in here is an antique, including me!.”
As he talks to his visitor Hugh proudly shines up a one hundred year old harness. “You can tell it’s made out of pretty good stuff. See the shine it’s got there, compared to the other ones,” he says. “I’ve got oodles of stuff, things you wouldn’t believe,” he says as he walks through the barn, pausing occasionally to pick up a tool and explain its early use. “Young guys will come in here and I’ll tell them that at one time this was all there was for wrenches and they’ll say “Get Lost,” Hugh says chuckling as he holds an antique wrench in his hand.
Another interesting item is a manual horse clipper that was used on the family farm years ago. “You turn the handle and clip the winter coat off the horse to get it ready for spring work is the way my dad put it. When you put a different head on it you could sheer sheep.
Hugh retired from farming 25 years ago and he and Grace moved into town. Shortly after that he started restoring buggies and so forth. “I had a few parts and then people just started dropping some (other parts) in the driveway.” he says. Grace adds, “we never knew who was doing this”. His hobby expanded from there. And where does he get the buggies, cutters and sleighs that he restores. “When I go to auction sales I don’t look at what’s for sale, I look over in the field and you might see one.” People have also phoned him and asked if he was interested in different vehicles. Hugh keeps all the vehicles he restores “just look at it”. “Not everybody likes this sort of thing, but some people like buggies. When older people come here they stay for hours looking at them.”
The Goudy’s welcome visitors.