-By: Bryan Marsh
My first contributions to the reforestation of Central Newfoundland consisted of a few seedlings planted on a burn or cut-over down on New Bay Road when I was in Beavers.
To most residents of Central Newfoundland might think that New Bay Road was built to connected the farming community of Wooddale to the rest of the area and many know it as having been the route to the town dump, back when there was an incinerator down there.
New Bay Road was originally pushed in as a logging road in about 1959. I have seen conflicting reports of who built it, with J. Goodyear’s and Sons being noted in one paper and, logging contractor Mac Peyton, being noted in the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company News-Log. Mac Peyton did have a role in opening up some of the outside areas on New Bay Road, as he had the nearest logging camp-at Jumper’s Brook. It is likely that both parties had equipment involved.
The Timber limits in the New Bay Road area had been acquired by the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company by the 1920’s. Prior to that they had belonged to A.E Reed in Bishop’s Falls and even before that some of them had been worked for Pine by Newfoundland Timber Estates and the Phillips Mill in Point Leamington, and others in the Botwood area.
The problem with having limits in this area on the North side of the Exploits River was that there was no easy way of getting the wood to the Grand Falls Mill. If moved by water it would have to be driven on Peter’s River or New Bay River to Botwood and Point Leamington respectively. From there it would have to be boomed and collected for rail shipment though Botwood. I believe some wood was moved this way because I have seen pictures of rail cars full of pulpwood at Botwood. Another method was for the wood to be collected in a boom on Peter’s River and jack-laddered out of the water and loaded on railcars to be shipped to Grand Falls. This was done on a limited basis in the 1920’s and early 30’s, as there are interviews and anecdotal evidence of men cutting wood on Peter’s River during this time period.
The area was cruised and assessed for future cutting in the late 1940’s. By the late 1950’s the cutting plans for the A.N.D Company mill had operations moving into areas closer to Grand Falls, which included the New Bay Pond area. At this point exploiting this wood was more feasible because of an expanded road building program. At this point wood was already reaching the mill by truck from Bishop’s Falls, Jumpers Brook and some areas in Badger Division.
By 1962 the road had been pushed in some 11 miles. The operations at New Bay Road would be dramatically different than any other operation in the history of the Grand Falls Mill. Initially in the first year or so, cutting on New Bay Road would be undertaken under private contractor Ford Hewitt of Springdale. In the summer of 1962 the operation became the test bed for the re-introduction of 8-foot wood AND CO woods operations. Wood was cut by loggers and bucked into 8-foot instead of 4-foot bolts. I am not positive if it was cut and bunch or cut and pile, but nevertheless the wood was picked up in 1.5 cord bundles by a Caterpillar 977H equipped with a grapple. The hauls with this machine were normally limited to under 500 feet. This machine would then load it on a truck which would truck it to a specially built slasher mill located near the mill pond. This slasher mill would then slash the bolts in half making them suitably sized for the mill’s wood handling system. In that first summer, a relatively small amount was delivered, about 1300 cords in total. (NewsLog November 1962)
The next year, New Bay Road was a commuter operation under the supervision of Jack Milley. At the time Milley, also still had a camp operating near Island Pond in the Sandy District. in 1963, with Milley still in charge, the amount of work being taken from New Bay Road was increased to 10,000 cords.
By 1965 the New Bay Road operation would be under the supervision of foreman Clayton Holloway. Holloway’s last operation had been in a relatively remote area of the Sandy area of Badger Division, and had closed up in 1963-64. Although it had been heavily mechanized using a combination of tractors and horses, all of the wood was still driven to the mill by water via Noel Paul’s Brook and the Exploits River. In this operation on New Bay Road none of the wood would be driven.
The introduction of the wheeled skidder was changing the face of the logging business in Central Newfoundland. There were ten of these machines involved here, along with two bulldozers and five tandem pallet trucks. 57 men would be employed in cutting and hauling the 27,000 cords of wood the company was projecting to cut in the area.
In an early example of the pattern that would come to dominate logging in the coming years loggers worked in skidder crews. The crews consisted of five loggers, two fellers who cut and de-limbed the trees, a skidder operator who hauled the tree lengths to the landings and two loggers who would buck the trees into four four bolts and load them on pallets. The pallets would be winched on trucks and hauled directly to the Grand Falls mill. (AND News-Log August 1964). New Bay Road was also where Price first experimented with the used of the Hough Pay-Packer. The Pay-Packer was basically a skidder with a grapple on the back, which would load in a similar manner to the Cat 977 described above.
A lot of wood came out of New Bay Road over the years. Price and Abitibi Price would be cutting up in this area for many years. Holloway would operate the camp for a number of years, before retiring from Price and branching out as a private woods contractor, cutting on crown lands. Former woods department official Ford Budgell, and later his son Bruce took over the camp for a few years before it closed in 1978.
As some point in the around the 1970’s there were a few families living a short way down New Bay Road. They were all gone from the area by the late 1980’s. I believe they may have been located roughly across the road from the fire training center.
In the 1990’s more areas on New Bay Road were identified for cutting and contractor Glenn Peyton operated a commuter operation from 1994-2000, the last logging operations being undertaken by the son of the same contractor that opened up the road. By that point New Bay Road had become important for public infrastructure in Central Newfoundland. Both the local garbage incinerator and the water supply and water treatment plant for the area were accessed through New Bay Road. The incinerator site was closed in 2012, when waste disposal was centralized at Norris Arm.
Today the Grand Falls-Windsor Fire Department has a training center on New Bay Road, and there is even a small church a little ways down, the Provincial Tree Nursery is down there, and Wooddale is still a viable farming community. The area around New Bay Lake itself has long since become a popular cabin area, and I do believe that in the near future there will be be some housing development on the areas of the road closer to GFW.
As the years progress the regenerated forests will gradually reach merchantable size again, so who knows what the future may hold. I wonder how big that tree I planted is now? How tall would a 30 year spruce or fir be now?
A Brief Introduction to Wooddale.
In “Upper” Canada, it was a trend that lumbermen would generally open up certain areas for agricultural settlement. Because of the large scale development of Newfoundland’s timber resources as large scale perpetual tree plantations for two paper companies, (and well, the terrible climate) this never really happened. New Bay road opened up the relatively good soil of the Peter’s River, and in 1969 the Newfoundland Government took steps to start the Province’s newest Farming communities.
Wooddale was selected as an ideal site for agriculture, by Mr. Rupert Wood from the Department of Agriculture. Although the site was selected in 1965, it wouldn’t be until 1969 when the first farmer settled in the Peter’s River Valley. Mr. Arthur Gill was the first farmer there, starting a farm in 1969. By 1974 Gill had been joined by a few others. By 1991 there were a number of farms there and a population of 53.
The southern side of Peter’s River became the site of the Provincial Tree nursery. Most people wouldn’t know it, but around 1967 Price Newfoundland, was in the process of setting up their own tree nursery at Rushy Pond. Some planting and experimentation appears to have been done, but then the project appears to fade into history. It seems that the Provincial Government was looking into developing their own facility at that point, and my guess is that there was no point in having duplicated private and public facilities.