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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 guys who took satisfaction of their woodsmen abilities and tough codes of behavior. They known 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 single wintry weather paintings on hand. Immigrants – Swedes and Finns quite often – resumed the trades they'd realized so good within the forests of northern Europe. They broke the chilly, tough monotony of camp existence with songs, tall stories and card video games.

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

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Hay, straw or fir branches are unfold around the entire size of the habitation, on which all of them lie down jointly at evening to sleep with their ft subsequent to the fireplace. One individual is employed to cook dinner, whose accountability it truly is to have breakfast prepared sooner than sunlight, at which all of the occasion arises, whilst each one guy takes his ‘morning’ or the imperative dram of uncooked rum prior to breakfast. The meal includes bread, or sometimes potatoes, with boiled red meat, beef or fish, with tea sweetened with molasses. Dinner is generally a similar with pea soup rather than tea, and supper resembles breakfast. those males are huge, immense eaters and so they drink nice amounts of rum, which they seldom dilute. ”5 Farmers who couldn't make a residing from hard-scrabble farms started to wasteland their land to chop trees, whereas boys have been lured from the plodding labour of the plough by means of the money and swagger of the hot existence. They got new names: “lumberer,” and, later, “shantyman,” and one author saw that their demeanour of residing, “owing to the character of the enterprise they persist with, is solely diverse from that of alternative population of North the United States. ”6 It was once basically while the British army contractors despatched gangs of axemen into the woods for months at a time within the early 1800s that logging turned a separate career. Townsmen considered the hot breed of woodsmen with a few apprehension. They have been, not less than, a colorful bunch, “. . . shaggy of hair and beard, dressed out in purple and blue and eco-friendly jerseys, with knitted sashes approximately their waists, and pink and blue and eco-friendly tuques on their heads. ”7 In higher Canada they have been a “light-hearted set of dare-devils and the best rascals and thieves that ever a peaceful kingdom was once tormented with . . . rooster roosts have rather disappeared from the river facets and lambs and little pigs need to be saved lower than lock and key. ”8 at the Trent River close to Peterborough, southwest of the Ottawa, they have been “an incorrigible, although probably an invaluable, race of mortals, referred to as lumberers, whom, even though, i'd identify the Cossacks of higher Canada. ”9 those that knew them most sensible defended them. Samuel Strickland, who farmed and logged close to Peterborough, wrote, “Although huge our bodies of them were lumbering shut round me for the previous 4 or 5 years, i've got acquired not anything yet civility at their fingers; nor has a unmarried program for a summons or a warrant opposed to them been made to me in my magisterial capability. ”10 a long time later George Thompson, who logged at the Trent and the Ottawa, used to be to write down, “Many of the folk who so meanly discuss with those courageous fellows simply see the negative shantyman possibly yearly, at a time whilst he has funds in his pocket and is having fun with himself along with his partners after his winter’s paintings . . . Take river drivers and shantymen whilst at their paintings and clear of whiskey, a nobler or kindlier lot of fellows can't be came across. ”11 The King’s extensive Arrow at first, first the French after which the British colonial governments attempted to order leading bushes for naval use.

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