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By Donald MacKay

Short-listed for the 1978 Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction

The nineteenth century spawned a different breed of fellows who took satisfaction of their woodsmen talents and tough codes of behavior. They referred to as themselves lumberers, shantymen, trees beasts, les bucherons – and, extra lately, lumberjacks, operating within the great forests of jap Canada and British Columbia.

around the nation, farm boys could visit the woods, lumbering being the one iciness paintings to be had. Immigrants – Swedes and Finns regularly – resumed the trades that they had discovered so good within the forests of northern Europe. They broke the chilly, challenging monotony of camp lifestyles with songs, tall stories and card video games.

inside of those pages, writer Donald MacKay permits us a glimpse into that second in our history whilst males entered the virgin wooded area to carve out an from the likely unending array of pine, spruce, maple and balsam fir came across there.

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After the flip of the century excessive top seemed in British Columbia. H. B. Gardner put in a Lidgerwood and a excessive lead procedure at Discovery Bay in 1906. in addition to excessive best got here the bold younger guy referred to as the excessive rigger. floor major, brought on the flip of the century to skid logs brief distances out of the bush to the top of the skidway, first and foremost consisted of a primitive “spool donkey” which hauled a log over the floor, bucking rocks and fallen bushes and stumps. A horse pulled the Manila rope again into the bush for one more log. through approximately 1905 the program have been more desirable with a horizontal drum changing the upright spool and an never-ending iron rope feeding via blocks fastened on stumps to haul within the log and get the road again out to the bush with no using a horse. “Roader donkeys” occasionally supplanted oxen and horses to haul a huge flip of many logs down an extended skid street to the mill. when you consider that one desk bound donkey engine may possibly haul for a distance of in simple terms approximately 4000 toes alongside the line, a chain of engines, put at periods, was once beneficial. The excessive lead process turned renowned after the 1st international conflict. the most line used to be hung up at the spar tree by means of a excessive rigger to raise a log over hindrances. This doubled the creation acquired by means of the outdated flooring lead approach. From Rhymes of a Lumberjack, courtesy of Robert Swanson, Vancouver, B. C. The excessive rigger, like a steeple jack, was once a consultant and hung the blocks and features of the excessive lead procedure a hundred seventy five ft or extra up a Douglas fir, which he known as the spar tree. With awl and observed swinging at his belt and mountaineering irons strapped to his boots, he twitched his method up a Douglas fir, lopping off branches as he climbed. His security rope used to be equipped with a metal middle so he couldn't reduce it unintentionally. At some degree the place the tree was once nonetheless thick and robust, possibly a foot and a part thick at a hundred seventy five toes, he notched in an undercut together with his awl and sawed off the head. The response was once remarkable. The jolt of 20 or 30 toes of heavy tree-top breaking off could shake him from side to side like a rag doll in a typhoon. J. L. Henslowe on Vancouver Island attempted it just once. “I by no means misplaced rather a lot sweat. because the tree-top is going it offers a kick and, striking onto your rope, again you move and glance down over your shoulder and swear you're by no means going to forestall. the following factor you recognize it’s going the wrong way and also you are taking a look down at the little white faces less than. the most important risk was once if the tree break up open in case you crowned it. it is going to squash you with the metal middle belt correct up opposed to the tree. ” as soon as the tossing and the turmoil ceased and his belly settled down, the excessive rigger leaped down the tree like a monkey, his existence line and spurs braking his descent each 10 toes or so. He climbed again up and secured a 15-pound pulley and a coil of sunshine metal cable known as the “pass line” and with these in position a small rigging donkey on the foot of the tree all started hauling up the “jewelry,” the two-ton “bull block,” also known as a “Tommy Moore,” for the guy who had invented it, and the secondary blocks and contours and the fellow strains to man the spar tree.

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