Canadian Heritage

Historical Vignettes

Mr. Lude: Portrait of a Happy Lumberjack

He remembers hard times when they had to cut trees with the most rudimentary of tools.

When we worked with horses, cutting wood “au godin” - small saw and splitting it with an axe, we produced one hundred cords of firewood during one winter. Today with machinery such as a timber jack and a wood splitter, we can produce twenty-five thousand cords of firewood in the same amount of time. Because we own several woodlots, we don't always need to harvest wood on the same one; we usually cut 200 cords on one lot and then move on to another...we have to control, protect and manage our woodlots so that they can keep on producing. There are fewer men working in the woods, huge machinery has taken their places; the cutting process is much faster but damages made are also greater. Clear cutting practices have resulted in the destruction of many woodlots, where trees would have been ready to be cut in ten years, but which will now take forty or fifty years to grow back. Wood is becoming rare and costs a lot more."5

Working in the woods has always been a family affair for Mr. Lude. Several of his children also caught “the bug” and have made it their profession or at least a part time way of earning extra money. National Geographic magazine even visited the family in 1980 and published photos of the Landry's in full firewood production, demonstrating their assembly-line methods.

At today's lumber camps you will see more giant skidders, mammoth harvesters, and merciless mechanical debranchers than horses and grindstones. But you will still meet families operating in the old ways - like the Landry's, whose 1,900 acres of woodlot sit in the saddle of a green valley township on the Canadian side. (...) As did his father and his father's father, Élude Landry, along with his eight sons and one daughter harvest their own wood, putting strong backs to heavy chains, hauling 50-foot long logs with a hefty horse - the whole day laughing, cajoling, cavorting, taunting, and having a grand old time.6