Swift Current museum unveils newest centennial attraction

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McIntyre’s mechanical horse, better known as Blowtorch, will be on display at the Swift Current Museum until July 2. The horse was originally built in 1947 by Swift Current inventor and businessman W.J. McIntyre, and it is on loan from the Western Development Museum in Moose Jaw.

A longtime Swift Current legend has come home for the centennial.

McIntyre's electric horse, better known as Blowtorch, arrived in the city earlier this month, and was officially unveiled at the Swift Current Museum on May 21.

Blowtorch is on loan from the Western Development Museum in Moose Jaw, and local organizers couldn't be happier to have him.

"Blowtorch is really part of the community," museum curator Lloyd Begley said. "He was created here in Swift Current so many years ago and has been gone for so many years, so it's important that he be allowed to come back and visit."

Originally built in 1947 by Swift Current inventor and businessman W.J. McIntyre, Blowtorch has appeared at events as wide ranging as small town Saskatchewan festivals to the Grey Cup parade.

The horse's sheet metal cover hides a nine horsepower engine hooked up to a foot throttle, with wheels hidden under the hooves giving Blowtorch his mobility.

He's quite a creation, which unfortunately caused a bit of difficulty in getting him here.

Begley said they had to improvise a bit on the trip from Moose Jaw, but in the end everything turned out fine.

"It was a little difficult," he said as he recalled the problems caused by Blowtorch's transport crate, which hadn't been used in 15 years. "The crate was embedded in the quonset floor, so we had to make a cradle for him in the trailer. It took the better part of a day to get him over here."

Travel arrangements weren't the only difficulty. Acquiring Blowtorch for the summer while juggling all the other centennial events required the support of several local sponsors. In the end eleven local businesses stepped up with the support needed to organize and run events at multiple venues, including the museum.

"They've given us the versatility to be creative and bring things back, in this case Blowtorch," Begley said.

"It's great to give back to the community that has been so gracious and supported us through our business," said Sherrie Millar, a partner at MNP, one of the 11 Centennial event sponsors.

"It's nice to be a part of this historic celebration."

They were also a little in awe of the creation themselves.

"It was very interesting when they discussed it," added Pioneer Co-op's Larry Kozun, another sponsor. "Blowtorch was developed in 1946 and to see the technology, or just the innovation, in 1947 and how he made Blowtorch work, and it still works today, it's actually very innovative. It was very interesting and I think it's great for the centennial."

Blowtorch will be in Swift Current until July 2, after which he'll be returned to his home in Moose Jaw. Until then, he'll remain a part of the museum's centennial display. In addition to Blowtorch, the museum has also created an exhibit at Swift Current Mall.

The display features 175 local photographs of Swift Current people and landmarks from the last 100 years.

There will also be four eight-minute history videos narrated by longtime Swift Current residents.

Organizations: Swift Current Museum

Geographic location: Swift Current, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

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