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Historical marker in Agricultural Engineering.

A historical plaque commemorating the invention of the forage harvester was dedicated on Aug. 2, 2004, in the Aylmer neighborhood of the City of Gatineau in Quebec. The plaque emphasizes the inventiveness of William Conroy (1850-1915) who lived in Aylmer and developed several agricultural machines for the family farm. In 1891 Conroy received a U.S. patent (No. 465,127) for the first field hay chopper. Conroy also served as mayor of Aylmer, 1882-1884 and 1891-1892.

In 1988 ASAE dedicated Historic Landmark plaque #22 to the invention of the forage harvester. This plaque is located at the University of Wisconsin, Agricultural Engineering Laboratory in Madison. A copy of the original plaque was given to the town of Aylmer in 1989 but never displayed publicly because it was unilingual in English. In 2004 the City of Gatineau decided to dedicate a bilingual plaque, in French and English with a shorter text, near the Symmes Inn, a historical house in Aylmer. This new plaque honors William Conroy's contribution to the forage harvester.


The new plaque was dedicated during the ASAE and CSAE/SCGR meeting held in Ottawa, Aug. 1-4, 2004. The Aylmer Heritage Association wrote the text for the new plaque and organized the inauguration ceremony.

The original text of the ASAE Historic Landmark plaque #22 in Wisconsin describes the roles of several inventors and developers of the forage harvester and the socio-economic impact of this invention. The full text may be found on ASAE's Web site at

The English text on the Aylmer plaque reads: "Invention of the Pick-Up Forage Harvester: A Historic Landmark of Agricultural Engineering. In 1891, William J. Conroy of Aylmer, Quebec, received a patent on the first mechanical field hay chopper. Successive models designed by others in the United States of America ultimately resulted in the commercial production of the modern forage harvester. This important development was recognized in 1988 by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers with Plaque #22 at the Agricultural Engineering Building, University of Wisconsin--Madison. William Conroy's invention contributed to the significant reduction in the cost and labour involved in forage harvest, storage and feeding. With support from the Canadian Society of Agricultural Engineering (CSAE), this plaque is dedicated to him. August 2004."

If you have the opportunity to visit the Aylmer area, make sure you stop at the Symmes Inn to learn more about local history and an important development related to hay and forage technology.

Philippe Savoie

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
COPYRIGHT 2004 American Society of Agricultural Engineers
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Title Annotation:Inside ASAE; William Conroy honored
Author:Savoie, Philippe
Publication:Resource: Engineering & Technology for a Sustainable World
Geographic Code:1CQUE
Date:Nov 1, 2004
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