Cue to call
Carson Hill came out of retirement for a half day to call the tractor pull at Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm during the 25th anniversary celebrations. Van Dusen photo
Tom Van Dusen
KENMORE – It doesn’t necessarily take something big to pull legendary Kenmore auctioneer Carson Hill out of retirement for even half a day, but it does take something special.
Recent 25th anniversary celebrations at Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm north of Kenmore were special enough to do the trick. All Earl Stanley had to do was call. It didn’t hurt of course that the event was handily located for Carson to travel to and that he’s known Earl pretty much forever.
It wasn’t even an estate or farm auction that Carson picked up the gavel for. It was his sideline of calling tractor pulls which he did for most of 20 years. Earl featured a family pull – which he won – as part of the festivities. Carson insists it wasn’t fixed.
“Tractor pulls pretty much got started around here at the Metcalfe Fair and, for a long time, I was the only guy doing it. I’d get calls from as far as Saint-Hyacinthe in Québec and western Ontario to do pulls. Some people thought it was more complicated than it was.”
Just like his auctioneering, Carson has a relaxed, good-ol’ boy style when it comes to pull calling. He often knows all the participants by name and some anecdotes about them that he tosses into the mix.
He allowed that it felt good to call a pull after many years away from the track. However, looking at 70 in the rearview mirror and having suffered some serious health setbacks, he has no intention of searching out any more gigs. He’s counting on living a longer life away from the pressure of the auction circuit.
Earl rode to victory against his brother Ron and his daughters on a 1967 Allis-Chalmers One Ninety Series 3 tractor, the main prize in his growing collection of A-C antiques. Not to be outdone, Carson is a Massey-Harris collector. The Allis was bought new by Earl’s father Art, now 84, and mother Ruth, 80, in 1967. The mighty bright orange machine was eventually sold and went through a number of owners before finding its way back to Earl.
Earl has often heard family members argue at the end of a pull about how it could have been done better; the family pull was a chance for them to put their techniques where their mouths were.
Another way things have come full circle at Stanley’s is that Ron Stanley has returned to the fold. At one point, Earl bought him out and he went on to other things. Now he’s back with three daughters to add to Earl’s three, all of them involved in the family agri-entertainment operation. The new generation is helping “redefine who we are.”
Earl’s proud to point out that Stanley’s is only part “funny farm”. It’s also a traditional working operation raising 30 head of beef to finish, keeping 16 horses, taking off hay and 60 acres of beans, in addition to full-fledged maple production with restaurant/reception centre.