Skip to main content

Blowtorch the Mechanical Horse

Curated Submission
Swift Current, Saskatchewan
Mid-20th century
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
280 x 70 x 191.5
Materials & techniques
Sheet metal, horsehair, rubber belts; Metalwork, welded
Made by W.J. McIntyre
Saskatchewan Western Development Museum WDM-1979-S-260
Blowtorch, a life-sized mechanical horse, was a well-known and well-loved feature of local parades and fairs in the 1950s and ’60s around Swift Current, Saskatchewan. Blowtorch was a pet project for inventor W.J. McIntyre, who ran a scrap metal and foundry business in Swift Current and founded the Inventors Association of Canada in the 1950s. He built his first mechanical horse around 1947 and spent five years improving on the prototype. The final result was Blowtorch, McIntyre’s best-known work and “the only horse in the world you have to choke to start.”

McIntyre dressed the sheet metal body with a black and white pinto paint job and a horsehair mane and tail. Inside Blowtorch, the “horsepower” came from a 9-horsepower gasoline engine. Blowtorch could move up to 12 kilometers per hour. A rider controlled the horse with a foot throttle to accelerate and brake. McIntyre put small wheels under the hooves, allowing the horse to move when its legs slid back and forth. The result was its signature odd lurching gait.

Word spread about McIntyre and Blowtorch. The duo was invited to appear in a Grey Cup parade in Toronto, at the Red River Exhibition in Winnipeg, and at several other events across Canada. McIntyre reportedly received a letter from Walt Disney asking about his mechanical invention. When McIntyre died in 1965, it seemed that Blowtorch was put out to pasture. A few years later welder Allan Jacobs at McIntyre’s old shop noticed a neglected Blowtorch rusting away. Jacobs and McIntyre’s son decided to restore Blowtorch and brought the beloved horse out for one last parade in 1968 in Swift Current.
Submit a related artifact
Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Pinterest Email More...

Main sponsors

  • Logo of the Imperial Oil Foundation with accompanying characteristic oval 'Esso' symbol.

Institutional partners