Olaf G. Johnson-Swedish-Newfoundland Logging Pioneer.

Western Star (Corner Brook, N.L.), 1947-02-07 Biography Of A Woodsman OG Johnson.jpg
O.G Johnson worked for Lewis Miller, Harry Crowe (Newfoundland Timber Estates), the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company, The St. Lawrence Lumber and Steamship Company and finished career working with Bowaters. (Western Star)

Olaf Gustaf Johnson was one of the few Swedes who came over with Lewis Miller that stayed on in Newfoundland. He noted that the only other that he knew of was Hagbert Hanson. I do believe the Lindahl in Grand Falls family also came from Sweden with Miller but ended up at his operation in Glenwood.

O.G Johnson was born in the northern Swedish province of Jämtland around 1875. He came to Newfoundland in 1900 to work for the Lewis Miller Company at Red Indian Lake.

I hope somebody somewhere recorded some of Johnson’s yarns and tales from the early days. Of particular note is the reference made to the early skidders that were experimented with and “portaged at great cost.” This is particularly interesting in light of the old tracked Clyde skidder that was brought down to Millertown and unfortunately scrapped. From what I can gather, it was brought overland from Millertown to Kelly’s Pond, over some very rough terrain.

This piece is also a useful guideline as it indicates the use of tractors by the AND Co prior to his leaving their employ in 1926.

Johnson OG, Horse snow shoe
A unique feature seen in the Newfoundland lumberwoods and sometimes referenced in mainland publications, was the use of snowshoes for horses. Olaf G. Johnson is often referenced as the person who developed them. This picture is noted as Mr. Johnson displaying one of the horse snowshoes while working on the west coast of the island. I have seen interviews noting he may have come up with these while working for the AND Co. I have seen other examples of horse snowshoes made from wood.

As noted above, Johnson worked as foreman in the days when most of the logging was based around Red Indian Lake. Harbour Round was the site of a small depot and where the steamers Lady Mary and Fleetway would dock. Harmsworth Steady is on Victoria River and was recorded in the 1921 Census with a population of 1!

After about 20 years with the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company and 25 in central, Johnson went to work on the West Coast, first with the The St. Lawrence Lumber and Steamship Company in Lomond, Bonne Bay and later Bowater, owners of the Corner Brook Mill.

Since he was likely one of the employees inherited by the AND Company from Newfoundland Timber Estates, few people would have had the wide range of experience in the woods that Mr. Johnson had.

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