The History of Terra Nova Logging Division

It was the most easterly Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company logging division, and the logging division farthest from Grand Falls. It was the last one to be acquired, and the first one to close. In terms of employment it generally employed the least loggers, and provided the least amount of wood, and it is the division that I know the least about; physically, geographically, and historically.

In many ways Terra Nova is the best preserved logging division. I have only been to the Town of Terra Nova once. It was about ten years ago, as I walked around in the area where the A.N.D Company had been based,  and I felt like I was walking back in time. Not into a time when logging operations were still on the go, but to perhaps a time about ten years after. This was because some of the buildings remain and are kept in fantastic condition. The forests must be preserved to some extent as well,-although the Grand Falls Mill still had the timber rights-going back into Terra Nova was not in Abitibi’s long term cutting plans.

Like Badger, and Millertown; Terra Nova started life as a sawmilling community. A sawmill was first established there in 1894. The Campbell Lumber Company, Terra Nova Lumber Company and Horwood Lumber Company were involved in lumbering operations in the area between 1894 and 1920. (ENL)

I will not rehash what I have already written about how the Terra Nova timber limits came into the possession of the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company. I covered that here.

Believe it or not, there are areas in Millertown Division which were considerably further away from Grand Falls than Terra Nova. The difference is, these far flung areas in the vicinity of Lloyds Lake and Victoria Lake were in the Exploits River watershed, meaning wood could float most of its way to the mill. Everything in Terra Nova Division had to be shipped to Grand Falls by rail.

Terra Nova 1956 PANL
Terra Nova in 1956. The boom and loading area can clearly be seen near the top left. (PANL)

But the acquisition of the timber limits of a doomed Scandinavian backed pulp concern came at a fortuitous time for the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company. In the immediate post-war period there were problems with securing enough pulpwood. A.N.D was forced to look at different ways of hauling wood, flumes, steam skidders, tractors, and even a trawler were employed in getting enough wood to feed the Grand Falls Mill. It appears that a great deal of the wood to they were utilizing was coming from outside limits and was being brought in by rail. The prices must have been high, along with the price on the global market for pulp and newsprint, but not sustainable.

Although the Terra Nova Sulphite Company had gone under by 1923 and that year AND Co had stepped in to take over its assets and properties; it it difficult to determine when exactly they set up cutting operations there. Whether or not the AND Company should have been allowed to take over the timber areas was still being debated in the House of Assembly in March of 1925 (Daily Globe), Lord Rothermere had made it clear to the Government of the day that A.N.D was not going to finish the project (Munro 89). A.N.D official, and future General Manager, Philip Gruchy, was noted to have been resident at Angle Brook between January of 1922 (before the official takeover) and March of 1925, so they had staff in place there. (LTS). At first glance you would think that they would have worked their way down the Terra Nova River from Angle Brook, and drove the logs to the railway. Except that the railway didn’t reach Glovertown. That area’s connection to the railway was at a place called Alexander Bay Station, in an area outside of the Terra Nova Watershed. One can hypothesize, until finding further evidence, that the wood must have been driven out to Glovertown, boomed, and then most likely towed to a rail connection, most likely Gambo, where it was transshipped on the railway to Grand Falls. Another possibility could have been the use of ships or schooners to transport to the wood from Glovertown to Botwood.

To further complicate matters, the A.N.D Co. also had a large block of timber limits on the north side of Gander Lake, and in the Indian Bay area; both of which would have come under the supervision of Terra Nova Division. Very little information is available with regards to operations on the Indian Bay limits by A.N.D.

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A.N.D school picture, Angle Brook, 1926-27. Operations for the A.N.D Company were initially based at Angle Brook, near Glovertown. Details are scanty, but I believe it may have taken some time for the A.N.D Company to make the decision to not go ahead with the pulp mill at Angle Brook. A safe bet would have operations starting sometime between 1924-28. Most of the property owned by the company at Angle Brook was destroyed in a forest fire in 1946, but by that point the headquarters had moved to Terra Nova. (Decks Awash)

The first reference that can be found to AND Co logging operations actually at Terra Nova comes from June of 1929 (LTS). The first reference to the shipping of rail-wood comes from the following summer, and at that point “six or seven” railcars full of pulpwood were leaving for Grand Falls every day.(LTS) . The first statistics I have for the amount of wood coming from Terra Nova date from 1933.

The first Superintendent of Terra Nova Division was William Wallace Baird. Despite his incredibly Scottish name, Baird was originally from the Twillingate area(*) and had previous experience in the management of logging operations from working for the Horwoods at Campbelltown. It is believed that Baird originally came to the area to supervise operations for the Terra Nova Sulfite Company. Baird lived at Angle Brook, site of the ill-fated pulpmill, and it appears that operations were initially headquartered here.

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Mr. Frank Hayward, second Superintendent of Terra Nova Division. Hayward later became Chief Forester for A.N.D and Price.

Mr. Frank Hayward became Superintendent in 1935 or 36. He would build a house in Terra Nova, as by that point operations had moved to this tiny inland town. Hayward, who had grown up in Grand Falls, was a graduate of the forestry program at the University of Toronto, and probably the first professional forester to come out of Newfoundland. Hayward was only 26 when he came into the position. He stayed on as Superintendent for approximately 11 years, before taking over for H.W Cole at Badger. Pierce Budgell succeeded Hayward, and remained in that position for about ten years. Other Superintendents included Joe Dyke from 1956-59, and later, long time Millertown staff member, William Whitehorne. By the time Whitehorne took over Terra Nova did not have a dedicated Superintendent, as Whitehorne was also Superintendent of Bishop’s Falls Division.

Terra Nova Jackladder
Jackladder at Terra Nova, Circa 1930s. (Facebook)
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Loading railcars with wood from the jackladder, Terra Nova, 1930’s or 40’s. Note the small tractor that was used to shunt the loaded railcars.

Like the other Anglo-Newfoundland Development Logging Divisions, Terra Nova consisted of two main districts; Terra Nova and Gambo. Logging from Terra Nova spread out from the depot town into the watershed of the Terra Nova River. Wood was cut and boomed on Mollyguajeck Lake, Lake Kippenkek, John’s Pond, and Lake St. John. Most of the boats used were built locally, especially since the area was home to experienced boat builders. By 1960 the A.N.D Company also had a sawmill set up at Lake St. John.

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Loading bundles of pulpwood at Terra Nova.

Gambo operations were centered on the waters of Gambo Pond, and on Triton Brook. I don’t have much information on the early days of operations at Gambo, but do know they ramped up considerably in the late 1940’s and 1950’s.

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Offloading bundles of wood at the Grand Falls mill pond.

Originally the wood cut in Terra Nova was cut in 8 and 10-foot bolts, at some point it was switched to 7.5-foot wood. Initially, and then for many years the wood from the Terra Nova watershed was loaded by means of a jackladder. This changed in 1947 when Terra Nova became the first A.N.D Division to start cutting 4-foot pulpwood. The mill at Corner Brook had been using four-foot wood for a considerable amount of time at this point and the practices that would be employed at Terra Nova borrow considerably from Bowater’s practices on the west coast. The four-foot wood was driven to the loading station where it was loaded into bundles by men standing on “pontoons,” each bundle was held in place by a cable and lifted onto a flat car by a crane. It was one of the worst jobs that you could find in the industry, soaked all the time constantly bending and hefting wet pulpwood. Added to this, lights were installed and a night shift was added during the summer!

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Building a bridge on the South West River of Lake Kippinkeck, Circa 1959. (Newfoundland Logger)
Les Harris Camp New Pond
Les Harris’ camp circa 1950-55.
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Gate on woods road in Terra Nova Division.(Newfoundland Logger, 1960)

In 1950 there were 15 camps operating in the division. Noted foremen-contractors during this time were: Leslie Harris, Israel Eastman, Jack Head, Orlando Randell, Eldon Collins, Roy Peddle, Henry Feltham, William Brown, Andrew Kelly and Alpheus Dyke.

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Divisional staff Terra Nova Woods Division, 1956. (Left to Right) Roy Peddle, Contractor; Joe Dyke, Superintendent; Eli Arnold, General Foreman; Ross Sheppard, Assistant Superintendent. (A.N.D News 1957)

Gradually, most of the cutting operations in Terra Nova Division began to shift Northwards towards the waters of Gambo Pond. In 1963 operations were curtailed at Terra Nova and the Anglo-Newfoundland Development’s presence in the town ended. Operations were completely shifted up to Gambo, I believe at this point the division would have been referred to as Alexander Bay Division. Gambo Operations were folded into Bishop’s Falls Division when the four divisions were consolidated into two in 1965. Leslie Harris would go on to supervise operations in the “New” Bishop’s Falls Division, both in the Jumpers Brook area and later up in Sandy around Pamehoc Lake.

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Boom and loading plant at Terra Nova, circa 1960.

A few contractors such as Andrew Kelly, and Israel Eastman would remain working in the Gambo area, from where wood was still shipped by rail to Grand Falls. I have yet to pin down when shipments of wood from Gambo to Grand Falls ended.

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Log boom at Gambo, Circa 1956. In the late 1940’s loading plants were set up at both Gambo and Terra Nova for the transport of 4-foot pulpwood. (A.N.D News 1957)
Sling Cable Jon Grimes
Sling cable, a reminder of days gone by. (Jon Grimes).

The community still held on, even though logging operations ended, and they were far removed from the Trans Canada Highway. Like a number of old logging areas, Terra Nova became a popular cabin area, and there are hundreds of cabins and summer hoes in the area today. Still some of the traces of the past can still be found around this tiny inland town. Along the river, the vestiges of the booms and loading plant are rotting into the sand, and on some of the streets you can see houses, that look like they were plucked from the old part of Grand Falls.


Note:

W.W Baird was easily confused with William H. Baird, another lumberman around the same age, who worked for operations in Norris Arm, and served as a Captain with the Newfoundland Forestry contingent in World War One.

Sources.

(LTS)-link to source, used in the absence of a footnote system in WordPress.

Evening Telegram (St. John’s, N.L.), 1922-01-25

Evening Advocate, 1923-05-21

Mr. James Hayward-correspondence with Author

Newfoundland Weekly, 1926-01-09, vol. 02, no. 26

Newfoundland Weekly, 1929-06-22, vol. 05, no. 48

Newfoundland Weekly, 1930-07-12, vol. 06, no. 51

Munro, John Public timber allocation policy in Newfoundland; UBC 1978

Reid, Roy History of Terra Nova.

Terra Nova Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador

2 comments

  1. I have a great story about early Terra Nova. When my dad arrived in 1936, nobody had wells and got their water from the pond. Dad could not believe they could ot get water from a well. He made a deal with the company that if they could not find water he would pay for the work. They went down about 8 feet and found water. Everybody in Tera Nova at the time was from the bays and if you went down more than 6 feet you got brackish water. Everybody then dug wells and stopped lugging water from the pond.

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  2. Thank you for providing this excellent report. I worked as a scaler’s helper in 1960; t5he scaler I worked with was the late Max Dyke. My father was a good friend of Joe Dyke; Joe was married to a distant Saunders cousin in Glovertown. My dad told Joe that if he didn’t give his son (me) a summer job, he would reclain his cousin. I got the job.

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