François Latour’s personal thresher collection was on display for friends and fans on April 15 for a preview of the threshing record takeout, set to happen in 2019. Courtesy Macnab photo
by Tom Van Dusen
AgriNews Staff Writer
ST. ALBERT – In a finale worthy of a Movie of the Week, François Latour’s beloved wife Suzanne passed away after a long battle with breast cancer on the very same summer day he chalked up the World Threshing Record in 2015.
Knowing the outcome for Suzanne was inevitable, Latour had turned the Guinness Book of World Records thresh-o-rama into a cancer fundraiser; he pulled in about $30,000 in his wife’s name on his way to victory, with 111 vintage threshers churning together for 15 consecutive minutes during the St. Albert Curd Fest.
In 2016, the Latour organization lost the title to some determined Manitobans who fielded 139 threshers for 15 minutes. Latour has set Aug. 11, 2019, in St. Albert as the date for reclaiming the title; he plans to muster 200 threshers the next time out, making it much more difficult for any upstarts to steal the record from him again.
In the process, Latour hopes to collect $100,000 for cancer research. “It’s my way of giving back,” he says.
To give them a taste of things to come, Latour called together 100 of his closest friends April 15 for a threshing record preview. He’s already started mustering the machines he’ll need in St. Albert for his latest date with destiny, and the tractors needed to power them.
Eastern Ontario’s fake spring weather kept about 25 invited guests at home as Latour hosted fans at his home farm near Casselman where 70 antique Massey Harris tractors are stored, some of which will be powering threshers in 2019; he then escorted visitors to another barn where dozens of threshers were lined up inside and out; the day culminated with a demonstration of four tractors running threshers.
In between, it was lunchtime at the cheese factory restaurant; the St. Albert Co-Op has been highly supportive of Latour’s quest, welcoming him for the first attempt in 2015 when some critics thought it was nothing more than a pipe dream.
In 2016, Latour and 50 supporters travelled to the Threshermen’s Reunion and Stampede in Austin, Manitoba, convinced they’d keep the record in eastern Ontario. As Denis Lauzon, Latour’s right-hand man recalled, the eastern visitors didn’t think the western challengers would be able to haul enough of their much larger threshers to the competition field.
But they did it; within a few days of the Manitoba win, Latour had vowed to do it all over again in St. Albert, only bigger and better. He’s heartened by the fact that at least one westerner has promised to join the Latour crusade to win back the world threshing title.
Ken Mack of Lagenburg, Saskatchewan, attended in St. Albert in 2015 where he forewarned Latour that the Manitobans would probably take a run at them. The rest is threshing history. Mack is expected to haul a thresher all the way from his home to participate in the 2019 attempt.