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Pandemic takes the steam out of fabled Georgian Bay Steam Show

The Georgian Bay Steam Show is usually held on the Civic Holiday Long Weekend but the global pandemic forced its cancellation

The Georgian Bay Steam Show has been a tradition on the Civic Holiday Long Weekend.

With its antique tractors and machinery, classic cars, demonstrations of old-time threshing and horse-drawn plowing, a portable sawmill, tractor-powered shingle mill and rock crusher - plus crafts, children’s activities, a flea market, pancake breakfast, live entertainment, and truck and tractor pulls – the Show has attracted thousands to the village of Cookstown, since 1998.

In fact, 2020 would have been the 55th anniversary of the Steam Show. 

The Georgian Bay Steam, Auto, Gas and Antique Association was organized back in 1965, and held its first show at the Shanty Bay Golf Club in Barrie, inspired by the steam engine stored in a shed at the club.

The second Show was held in Collingwood. Then in 1969, it was moved to the Cookstown Fairgrounds, where the Steam Show remained until it outgrew the space available.

The Georgian Bay Steam Show returned to Barrie from 1983 to 1985, then moved again – this time, due to weather. The Barrie tornado of 1985 caused significant damage to the show's grounds. The club had to find a new home and moved to Beeton, where it remained from 1986 to 1997.

That’s when the Association purchased 40 acres on Victoria Street West in Cookstown, creating a permanent home for its displays, demonstrations and pulls.

On June 1 of this year, the Association's Board of Directors met via teleconference, and made the unanimous decision to cancel this year's show due to COVID-19.

The Board is hopeful that the Georgian Bay Steam Show can return in 2021, featuring Rumely tractors  - but in the meantime, here are some photos from the 2018 and 2019 steam shows - just a reminder of what everyone is missing this weekend. 

Miriam King

About the Author: Miriam King

Miriam King is a journalist and photographer with Bradford Today, covering news and events in Bradford West Gwillimbury and Innisfil.
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