Canadian Heritage

Historical Vignettes

Working in the Forest: a Strenuous Routine

During winter, the loggers mainly used horses and sleds to transport logs from the logging sites to the rivers banks. Afterwards, they would send the logs down the river towards the mills in a log drive during the spring thaw, very often over long distances.10

The value of northern Maine's forest (and the north-western part of New-Brunswick), particularly during this pioneer period, depended upon a variety of interconnected natural factors such as climate, topography and the flow of the rivers, all of which were crucial to moving timber to markets.11

The log drive was held in spring, following the melting of the ice. Several loggers then became log drivers and progressed down streams and rivers of rushing freezing water, simply armed with a pole and their courage. This job was extremely dangerous and demanded more than an ounce of courage from log drivers, who experienced a very different routine from that of the lumberjacks.

Once the trees were cut, trimmed and transported to the 'lindaines' that is to the landings, it was necessary to saw and cord the logs. Then the wait started for the thaw and the rising of the rivers, so that the drive could get going. The logs were then pushed into the water through the 'slooses' and followed the stream. The log drivers were to direct the logs with poles or 'peaveys', to prevent or tear apart the wood jams, and guide the logs to the mill booms, without losing any one of them. Each section of the river had its crew of log drivers and its own floating cabin, which served as a kitchen.12