100 Years of Logging in Central Newfoundland- a History in Pictures

1908-1910

Logging operations for pulpwood begin on the shores around Red Indian Lake

There is one logging division: Millertown

Large outside contractors such as Newfoundland Pine and Pulp also supply the mill from timber lands near Badger.

Methods are much the same as those used for earlier sawmill operations

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Most of the logging in the first few years of the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company was done close to the shores of Red Indian Lake.
Lady Mary Millertown
In those early days, boats were used to reach the camps around the lake. Some of them like the Lady Mary were larger steam powered vessels.
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Initial attempts at driving full length logs proved to be problematic and standard logs lengths were put in place very early on.

1910’s

In 1910-11 Badger logging division is formed out of timber lands acquired from A.E Reed, Newfoundland Pine and Pulp etc.

In 1913 the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company has 65 logging camps in two logging divisions.

World War One has an impact in finding workers. Many woods staff serve with the Newfoundland Forestry Contingent in Scotland

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A.N.D Co logger chopping down a tree circa 1919. Up until around this time almost all wood was cut by axe. Saws became more common around this time and within a few years the one man bucksaw became standard. (GFWHS)
Corduroy Road AND CO 1914
Boggy terrain sometimes necessitated the laying of corduroy roads for hauling, as evident from this 1914 picture.
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Log drivers freeing a log jam on the Exploits River 1910-1919. (Photo from the Grand Falls Windsor Heritage Society)

1920’s

By 1924 two additional logging divisions are formed from newly acquired timber lands. These are Bishop’s Falls and Terra Nova Woods Divisions.

The introduction of the one man metal famed bucksaw, piecework and the Caterpillar tractor set the pattern for the next 20+ years.

A tramway is built to access camps in the Lake Ambrose area of Millertown.

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The horse would be joined by the tractor during the 1920’s, though they would not be fully replaced by machines until the 1960’s.
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Many men from around Newfoundland began working in logging camps as the need for pulpwood increased during the 1920’s.

 

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Holt 10 Ton tractor hauling pulpwood circa 1922-23. Though not definite this picture is most likely from either the 1920 operation in Badger or the 1922-23 operation in Millertown. Newfoundland was one of the first places in Eastern North America where tractors were used to haul wood.
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Even as far back as the 1920’s most of the logging camps (and dams) were connected to headquarters by telephone line.

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Same picture as above. Victor Stratton’s camp on Victoria, 1920. Note the rifle, most camps had guns in them, to deal with bears or to provide fresh meat for the men.

1930’s

Falling newsprint prices due to the Great Depression have an impact on wages in the woods.

Camp conditions deteriorate, numbers of inexperienced men turn to work in the woods and find they are not up to the task.

Conditions and poor wages lead to the formation of loggers unions, most notably the Newfoundland Lumbermen’s Association.

1934-5 sees the first mass introduction of Caterpillar tractors to many camps for winter hauling.

Trucks are used more and more to transport men and supplies.

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George Rowsell’s horses on Great Rattling Brook.
Holt at badger 1938
The Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company used tractors for almost 15 years before they became very widespread, Between 1934-36 these machines found there way into many camps.
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Building a bridge on Harpoon Brook in 1938. At this point in time trucks became more prevalent for supplying camps and better roads were needed.

1940’s

Increasing number of tractors and trucks being used in the woods. Trucks first used for hauling is summer.

Shortages in labor are severe during the Second World War. Loggers are in short supply due to enlistments in the services and better paying jobs at military bases.

After the end of the war levels of woods and mill employment hit record highs.

Hayes truck marks lake ag
Hayes trucks were very similar to modern trucks. Bowaters used them extensively, the A.N.D Co used them on a limited basis hauling between Marks Lake and South Twin Lake in the late 1940’s. A fully loaded Hayes Truck could many cords of wood in bundles. (Atlantic Guardian February 1947)
Logger with bucksaw AG 1947
Cutting with a bucksaw. For about 30 years this was the method of felling pulpwood. (Atlantic Guardian 1947)
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Cook in an AND Co logging camp at the old Adam Hall Stove.

1950’s

Chainsaw first appears in the woods around 1954 and is rapidly adopted by most loggers.

More and more woods roads are built.

IWA Strike in 1959 over wages and conditions.

First modular prefabricated camps.

Still dozens of camps in operation.

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There were still a few log camps in the 1950’s.

 

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The chainsaw increased individual production and first came on the scene in about 1954.
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Truck hauling became more and more common by the end of the 1950’s. This would lead to a change in the seasonal pattern of wood cutting, as more and more wood would be cut in Spring.
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In 1954 many loggers still used bucksaws, which kept filers like Fred Dove busy. Chainsaws were very rapidly adopted by loggers. By the end of the 1950’s only a few old timers still used the old bucksaw.

1960’s

Operations in Terra Nova Division are curtailed.

In 1965 four woods divisions are merged into two. 

In 1965 the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company becomes Price (NFLD).

company shifts to having larger and fewer camps. Due to road improvements busing and commuting is now possible.

Woods labor force sees drastic decrease. Only a fraction of the number of men working in the woods for Price in 1969 and there were in 1960.

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Though there had been truck roads since the late 1920’s, an intensive road building program was started in the 1950’s and 60’s allowing for an increase in the amount of wood trucked. It should be noted that much of the wood was still trucked to bodies of water to be driven to the mill.

 

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New Bay Lake camp. The operations on New Bay Road were completely based on trucking the wood directly to Grand Falls Mill.
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The bridge over the Exploits opened in 1962 and allow for easier access to logging areas from Grand Falls.
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The 1960’s saw a number of technological changes come and go. More and more wood was now trucked, and the introduction of the skidder and the slasher led to a decline in labor needs. Machines like the Bombardier Muskeg (bottom right) were only used for a short period of time.
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One step taken in the aftermath of the IWA Strike was the training of cooks working in the logging camps. Oil stoves also replaced the old wood burning type. (AND News)
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The introduction of the skidder to AND/Price operations would fundamentally change how logging was done. (News-Log)
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Just a few years after the IWA Strike, showers start to appear in some of the new camps.
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Self loading pallet trucks came into prevalence in combination with skidders.
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The first slashers start to appear in the 1960’s.

 

1970’s

Continued mechanization. First harvesters are tried in the woods. Skidders predominate operations.

Price is merged with Abitibi and becomes Abitibi-Price.

Abitibi-Price buys doomed linerboard mill at Stephenville.

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The skidder replaced the horse and the caterpillar tractor for hauling wood out of the cutting area in the mid-1960’s. Well over a hundred of these machines were in use in Price logging operations in the 1970’s. (Andy Barker)

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The slasher was introduced shortly after the skidder and mechanized the bucking of wood.
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As logging became increasingly mechanized in the 1960’s and 70’s 4-foot wood was still easier to handle and to drive. As is the case here, this wood was probably cut to tree length, brought to a slasher, which slashed it into 4-foot bolts and loaded into the dump of this truck. It may not have been handled by a person at all after it was cut. (Andy Barker)
bulldozer pushing wood
Even the the pushing of wood became mechanized, not so great for the riverbank.
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Price (Nfld) logging camp of the 1970’s. (Andy Barker)

1980’s

Wood being cut in Central area for both Grand Falls and Stephenville.

Increasing environmental concerns with regards to river driving and other operations.

Reforestation and silvaculture programs replant many areas.

Only a handful of camps still in operation.

harvester KS
One of the most important things to happen in the 1980’s was the introduction of the mechanized tree harvester or feller buncher. These machines could fell, limb and junk trees into the required length. Though expensive they could replace many loggers. They also partly replaced slashers as they cut logs to length. Similar machines called feller forwarders not only performed these tasks, but were also capable of hauling out the the logs on self loading racks. (Kenneth Stanley)
Forwarder 2 KS
Self loading forwarder. Feller bunchers were used in conjunction with forwarders. These machines filled the role of the skidder in hauling out cut logs from the cutting sites. They had similar off road capabilities as skidders.
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Around 1991 Pamehac camp was ransacked. Starting in the 1960’s logging camps became bigger and bigger and fewer and fewer. Many loggers commuted to work and the camps were mainly for men from the South Coast. Pamehac camp was run by Harold Stanley and was last used in 1987. The site was later used with other buildings for silvaculture.
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Grand Falls mill, Grand Falls-Windsor and the Exploits River. Although the trucking of wood becomes more and more prevalent in the 1980’s, around 100,000 cords of wood still came down the Exploits each year. Note the boom full of wood at left.
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Chipping wood for both pulp and hog fuel is done during the 1980’s

1990’s

The end of the river drive.

Continued mechanization.

Intensive haul road building program.

The last logging camp: Black Duck, opens in 1998.

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The log drive ends around 1991, with cleanup continuing until 1994. (Abitibi-Price Grand Falls News)
Woods Road Abitibi KS
With the end of the log drive, Abitibi-Price’s road building program intensifies. With additional funding from the Provincial Government, hundreds of miles of high quality , well drained and topped woods road are built in the 1990’s.
Woods truck loading KS
A common sight on the woods roads of Central in the last two decades of the Grand Falls mill, were the huge brows of pulpwood stacked on woods roads. Here a woods truck is loaded for the mill.
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Huge pile of pulpwood stored near the Grand Falls Mill and the Exploits River.
Tree planting
Beginning in the 1980’s an emphasis was placed on silvaculture and reforestation of cut over areas. Abitibi would have people cutting and planting trees. (Abitibi-Price)

Graham Flight Tree Planting

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Environmental concerns become more and more important. And also note the piece of no hunting in logging areas, a far cry from when there was a rifle in every camp and the days when loggers went hunting (albeit illegally!) on their days off.

 

2000-2009

By 2003 there are only 313 harvesting employees working to supply the Grand Falls Mill and only 35 of them are chainsaw operators.

Logging becomes almost totally mechanized.

Grand Falls Mill closes in March 2009.

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Crew of loggers having lunch at Black Duck Camp, circa 2003. By the last decade of operations fewer and fewer loggers stayed in camp and there were fewer and fewer camps. There may have been two in operation when this picture was taken.
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Norman Hart would have been one of the few remaining logging camps cooks left at this point. There were once dozens.
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By the the late 90’s and early 2000’s woods roads built in the 50’s and 60’s were being upgraded as the areas were cut for the second time.
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Another feature seen on woods roads was the presence of load aligners, as depicted in this picture from around 1980. These installations kept the loads of wood trucks even to keep them from shifting or falling on the way to the mill. Interestingly enough, this was one of Glenn Peyton’s trucks. One of his trucks would make the last delivery of wood to the mill in mid-February 2009. (Andy Barker Photo).
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By the time the Grand Falls mill closed in 2009 almost all wood harvesting was mechanized. A harvester operator could produce as much as a crew of loggers. There were a handful of chainsaw operators for cutting in more inaccessible terrain. (Abitibi)
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Winston Hollett and his son Jeff. A.F Hollett and Son, along with Glen Peyton, the Elliott Brothers and Francis Wilson were the last contractors to cut wood for the Grand Falls Mill. Holletts operated out of Black Duck Camp for a number of years, but they were no longer supplying wood when the mill closed.  Glenn Peyton was the last contractor to supply wood to the Mill. (https://forestnet.com/LSJissues/July_Aug_03/contractor_profile1.htm)

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2009 Logging
Mechanized logging came with an incredible ability to clear cut in a short period of time, as evident from these pictures from the last years the Grand Falls Mill was in operation. One of the clear-cuts shown here is approximately 2 square kilometers in area.

 

 

 

 

 

4 comments

  1. A wonderful story. My brother-in-law worked in the mill in Grand Falls in the early 80’s. My dad worked on the ships in Botwood for 41 years from the 1950s until the early 1990s. It was so interesting reading the history of logging, the camps, the different methods of cutting the wood and getting it to the river and finally the trucks to get it to the mill. The AND train hauled the paper to Botwood. I remember riding in the caboose to Grand Falls on Saturdays to skate. It cost us 10 cents to ride and 25 to skate. We rode home for 5 cents with a man from Botwood who worked in post office in GF. Eventually trucks replaced the train.

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  2. What an incredible job done by yourself and Andy Barker and other contributors. I enjoyed this offering and was spellbound to the end. Thank you all for capturing, organizing and telling the uneducated like myself about the tremendous contribution the citizens of this province owes to those who worked in the woods. Congratulations on a magnificent job.

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  3. Bryan , I wonder are you aware of The Southwest Arm Historical Society website ?? Some interesting photos and other info. under Lifestyle …

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