I had endeavored to address AND Co/Price logging operations in the 1960s and how fundamentally different the industry was at the end of that decade than it had been at the beginning. I quickly found that I had to reach so far back into the 1950s, that that particular decade would require an examination before I could even touch the 1960s.
As we enter into 1950 pulpwood logging is a very important industry in Newfoundland. The two paper companies operating in the newest Canadian Province are turning out hundreds of thousands of tons of pulp and paper products each year, with 505,725 tons of newsprint, sulphite pulp and other products being produced at Corner Brook and Grand Falls.[i] In 1950 343,062 cords of wood were cut to supply just the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company at Grand Falls and Bishop’s Falls.[ii] In 1952 pulpwood woods operations for AND Co and Bowaters provided for 5400 man-years of employment.[iii]
The system that was in place in 1950 was what is often referred to as the conventional logging system, and the work was not much changed compared to twenty years previous. Logging was still very labour intensive. Trees were still felled and bucked using manual bucksaws, bolts were piled by hand at the logging area. In winter they were loaded by hand onto sleds, from where they were loaded onto sleds hauled by horses, tractors or a combination of both. In some areas dogs and oxen were still used to a limited extent. Tractors had been introduced in the 1920s and by 1934 the AND Co had developed a shuttle system that had become widespread.[iv] This system was based around the introduction of a number of different sized tractors introduced by Caterpillar around that same time[v]. By 1950 most camps had at least one tractor, and the A.N.D Company had scores of them in its logging operations. The conventional season was a seasonal system. Although cutting did often take place almost year-round, most of the wood was cut in the late summer and fall. Then it was hauled during the winter, then driven to the mills during the spring and summer. What is often not addressed is the fact that logging stages often overlapped depending on weather conditions, i.e.: some loggers may be driving and others cutting “Spring wood” close to bodies of water.
Though labour conditions and methods were little changed, living conditions were better than they had been twenty years previous. Bunk beds and mattresses had come into widespread use shortly after the Second World War, doing away with the old tradition of sleeping on “layers” or field bunks fashioned from spruce and balsam fir boughs. This reportedly cut down on the spread of vermin such as lice in camps. Log camps were still use in some places, but generally camp buildings were now made from lumber. In some cases, because they were constructed from lumber milled on site, which was generally unseasoned, the wood would shrink and allow in drafts and even snow. Food was still generally the same as it had been in the past, though there was more and more in the way of fresh meat and vegetables available in some camps located on truck roads. Breakfast still often consisted of beans, tea and bread. By 1950 most camps were connected, at least by some extent, by road. By 1957 modern pre-fabricated camps started to appear in the A.N.D Co woods. These consisted of sections of pre-fabricated plywood panel, which were easily assembled and disassembled, and were much better insulated than earlier types. Even with these improvements hot water and washing facilities were still in short supply.
Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company loggers were mostly still represented by the Newfoundland Lumbermen’s Association. Negotiations were carried out between this union, at least three other unions, and the pulp and paper companies through a conciliation board known as the Wood Labour Board. Union divisions and strife in the late 1930s, coupled with the Second World War led to the formation of this board, initially to prevent wartime work stoppages, but it had been retained after the cessation of hostilities. When the NLA had to affiliate with another union the IWA and UBCJ appeared on the scene and labour unrest would be in the background from 1956-1960, and would culminate with the IWA Loggers Strike during the winter of 1958-59.
Two technological changes that came about in the 1950s that would profoundly shape how logging was done in Newfoundland came about in the mid-1950s. In 1954 the most fundamental change to individual labour would appear in the woods in the form of the powersaw. It’s almost universal adaption by the end of the decade meant that the same amount of wood could be cut by less manpower in a shorter amount of time. This shortened the cutting season, and would eventually change what time of the year most camps cut their quotas. In 1955 the role of the truck changed in woods operations. Excepting the Mark’s Lake operation of 1946-52, trucks had mostly been used either as transport or in road building. Company literature suggests that in 1955 it started to fill a role in hauling wood. As it became easier to build roads, it made sense that wood would be loaded onto a truck for transport to water. The advantage here was that wood could be hauled on a truck in summer, fall, and winter. In once such experiment 5000 cords of wood was hauled from the stump to river during the month of June in 1959.[vi] At the same time winter delivery by truck to Rushy Pond began to take place, which amounted to direct delivery to the mill complex.
Short distance hauling in Spring-Summer and Fall had always been an issue in logging operations in Newfoundland. Both Bowater and A.N.D had experimented with the use of Hyster Arches hauling bundled wood in the late forties and early fifties (though their use was much more widespread with the former company). Newer machines such as the Bombardier’s J-5 and Muskeg started to be employed for year round hauling by A.N.D loggers in the late 50’s. At this time, the adoption of the Bombardier Auto-Neige should be mentioned, these early snowmobiles had first appeared in Newfoundland around 1948 and by the 50’s they were commonly used for winter transportation for loggers and other staff.
In 1956 William Johnston came to Grand Falls from the Mainland and within a few years he would become the woods manager. Johnston was a forestry graduate, and unlike his processors Brian W. Potts and Henry S. Crowe, was not familiar with Newfoundland, nor had he risen through the ranks of the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company. What Johnston reportedly did was to reassess logging operations and take into account what wood was closer to Grand Falls. As more and more roads were being built, it would now be possible to extract wood from areas that were outside of the Exploits watershed, but were within reasonable trucking distance of Grand Falls.
The beginning of the decade saw many camps still operating in the lower Noel Paul area. These camps were reached by road from Lake Ambrose and had their own depot at Pine Falls. Because Lake Ambrose was still reached by Tramway, supplies and workers for this area had to go though some degree of transshipment. Another sub depot, at 26-Mile was opened sometime in the 1940’s as operations moved back down to Victoria Lake and River. Two large bridges were put on Victoria River in 1949 to facilitate logging in this area. By the middle of the 1950’s there would be camps as far in the interior as Long Lake.
Logging the Victoria watershed meant that the booming of wood on Red Indian would once again be required, in order to tow these massive booms, at least two steel tug boats were acquired from Russel Brothers of Owen Sound Ontario. These were the Fleetway II and the Miss Millertown.
1957 would see the building of an all-weather road between the Exploits Dam and Lake Ambrose Depot, and with it the closure and dismantling of the Harpoon Tramway.[vii] Supplies and men could now go directly to the camps instead of transiting at Lake Ambrose. The depot at Lake Ambrose would, however remain open for a number of years, since some camps were still a considerable distance into the woods.
Some of the notable contractor-foremen running Millertown camps at this time included: Rex Bauld, Harry Mayne, Charlie Snook, Reg and Roy Wellon, Wes Kinden, Murdock Matthews, George Jones, E. Burt, Adam Oldford, Levi Newhook, R. Newhook, and Joe Lane.
Badger could be subdivided into three areas, Twin Lakes, Sandy, and Halls Bay; all of which were active in 1950. There were still a number of camps operating on South Twin Lakes, as well as surrounding lakes and ponds, including Mark’s Lake. Operations in this area were headquartered at South Twin Lake Depot. Here two 40-foot diesel tugboats were used for towing booms to the dam. Much of the wood towed down South Twin came from the Mark’s Lake area, from where it was trucked and dumped into South Twin. Logging operations in the Twin Lakes area stretched as far as Seabright’s Valley, not far from the salt water at Seal Bay.
After approximately 40 years of logging, operations around the Twin Lakes were curtailed in 1955-56 and the South Twin Depot was closed. Most of the foremen were redistributed within the division.
Foremen/Contractors who were active in the Twin Lakes area at the beginning of the 1950’s include: Bert Matthews, Phillip Davis, Tom Whiteway, Pat Carrol, and Leslie Manual.
With the curtailment of Twin Lake in the middle of the decade logging in the Sandy Lake/Sandy Brook District became more intense. The road to Sandy Brook had been completed by at least 1943 and there was a depot built near the Main Dam on Sandy to act as headquarters, as a repair facility and for the distribution of supplies to the camps in the area. Sandy Motor Road was gradually pushed to the South West towards Noel Paul Brook, and correspondingly camps were opened to log the area. By the middle of the decade there were a number of camps in the are including Shoulder Blade, Trapper’s Pond, Point of the Woods, Island Pond and Caribou Lake. Wood cut in these operations was dumped in Noel Paul Brook. Foremen Ford Ball and Harold Dyke had been cutting in the Noel Paul area in the late 1940s and early 1950s, but this seems to have been entirely different and was not connected to the Sandy Road. Balls camps seem to have been supplied via road, and across the river from the Buchans Railway. There is also a possibility that Dyke took over Ball’s camps, since Ball was well up there in years at this point. Closer to Badger on the Sandy Road there were camps located at West Lake under Foremen Bob Budgell and Bill Pope. Although they were a considerable distance in the country, they were the closest to Badger and these were the camps raided during the IWA Strike in the Winter of 1959. West Lake, and the West Branch System of Sandy Brook would come to play a larger role in the driving of logs in coming years.
The middle of the 1950’s also saw the building of the Buchans Highway, which was completed in 1956. This ended the isolation of Buchans, Buchans Junction and Millertown, and visitors and workers no longer depended upon the company owned railways for transportation into these communities. A number of contractors also stared cutting areas along this route at this time.
1950-51 saw the extension of the Grand Falls to Badger Highway all the way to Corner Brook. This made some logging areas hitherto largely inaccessible practical to harvest for both the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company and Bowaters. Included in this area was a section of AND Company limits in the Birchy Lake area. To the best of my knowledge this wood was either trucked to the Badger Lake/Brook or exchanged for wood with Bowaters.[viii]
The available statistics from the end of the decade show that there was a considerable amount of wood that moved from Badger Division by rail. It is known that wood was shipped from west of Badger at Collishaw’s Siding, other sources are not known at this time.
It should be noted that despite the four months of labour unrest associated with the IWA Strike some 81,022 cords of wood were still delivered from Badger Division in 1958-59.[ix]
Bishop’s Falls Divison.
The beginning of the 1950s saw operations going on throughout the Great Rattling Brook watershed. Early in the decade the decision was made to shut down the ground wood mill at Bishop’s Falls and to utilize that facility solely for hydroelectric power. Woods operations would not be curtailed, but pulpwood would be taken from the boom and loaded via a jackladder onto trucks, the trucks then made the short journey to Grand Falls.
During the 1950s some operations outside of the Exploits watershed had come under the supervision of Bishop’s Falls Division[x]. These included the camps on Gander Lake, and at Neyle’s Bridge-Indian Arm-Notre Dame Junction. The former operations were situated on a Reid Block acquired by the AND Co in the early years, and the latter partially consisted of timber lands acquired from the Horwood Lumber Company in 1948. All of this wood was shipped to Grand Falls via Canadian National Railway.
The end of the decade would see a shift away from operations on Great Rattling. With the opening of the Sir Robert Bond Bridge and improvements in the highway system Jumper’s Brook received the attention of loggers. The road being pushed down from here meant that it became unnecessary to cross the Exploits to Great Rattling Depot. The employment office would be moved to Jumper’s Brook and after some 45[xi] years as a logging depot Rattling Brook Depot was closed in 1957.
It was during the 1950’s when some of the operations in Bishop’s Falls Division became immortalized in photo and film. Some very known photographs were taken of Pat Lahey’s camp on Boney Lake, and the 1957 AND Company film, Pulpwood, depicted Arthur Whalen’s camp, in this Division.
On analysis of the statistics for the wood that was cut, there seems to have been a reduction in the amount that was being cut in the Great Rattling Brook watershed in 1957-58, and 1958-59 with approximately 49,000 and 26,000 cords being shipped to Grand Falls by truck from Bishop’s Falls in those years. The numbers increase in subsequent years with 56,000 trucked to Grand Falls in 59-60 and 47,357 in 60-61. This is of course working on the assumption that the wood that was trucked was mostly wood driven down Great Rattling, then loaded onto trucks then trucked to Grand Falls.
Some notable contractor foremen running camps during this decade were Mac Peyton, Charlie Fudge, Amos Feener, Pat Lahey, Mark Small, Mac Freake, and Eliakim Randell. A number of the long time contractor foremen in the Bishop’s Falls Division retired in the late 1950’s and early 60’s including James Rowsell, George White and Arthur Whelan.
At the end of the decade Mac Peyton opened up a new camp on Jumpers Brook road. Since it was so modern, and since it was so accessible from Grand Falls by road, it would be a showpiece camp, and one equipped with the most modern conveniences as they became available.
Terra Nova Division
The beginning of the 1950’s would see the Terra Nova Division going strong. The division had been where four-foot wood was introduced in 1947 and there was a major investment into loading plants at both Terra Nova and Gambo. The intensification of logging operations in the 40’s and 50’s was reflected on the tiny town of Terra Nova, as the population, and number of buildings there increased.
The gradual shift towards cheaper wood meant that the days of Terra Nova Division were numbered. There had never been a great amount of wood coming from the Division when compared to others, the cost for Terra Nova Wood must have been quite high. Contractors active in Terra Nova Division during this time included Leslie Harris, John Head, Roy Peddle, and Eldon Collins.
In the Gambo area operations were active on Triton Brook, and considerable amounts of wood were shipped from Gambo Pond. Contractors Israel Eastman, and Andrew Kelly ran camps in Gambo area at this time.
|1957||0||Delivery made every two years|
|1958||29,113||80,025 recorded by H. Inder|
|1959||0||57,224 Recorded by Inder likely Divisional Total.|
To put the totals for Terra Nova in perspective, a few years after Terra Nova shut down, one camp in Badger Division cut 27,000 cords of wood in one season. There is not further explanation given with these totals, but I suspect these are the totals from Terra Nova, and not Terra Nova Division, especially when compared with Divisional totals from another source.
The 1950s saw a considerable amount of change in Newfoundland’s pulp-woods. The consistent trend towards motorization continued at in increased pace, and for the first time the actual felling of trees became mechanized. A healthy and expanding demand for newsprint meant stable employment and increases in piece work and general labour rates. Because capacity and demand had increased so much in previous decades, I would venture to say that the same number, of not more employment was provided by the AND Company in the woods in 1959, then there had been in 1920.
Innovation in logging machinery in mainland North America often quickly founds its way to Newfoundland. In examples I have covered, Newfoundland was in fact at the forefront in adopting technology. This became apparently clear during the next decade, when the trend towards motorization and mechanization would profoundly change one of Newfoundland’s traditional industries, and would effectively eliminate much of the seasonality in the industry.
You will note that I have barely addressed to IWA Strike of 1958-59; this is because I have covered this in detail elsewhere and did not want to get bogged down in a major issue that loomed over the industry for three or more years. For further detail please see the following:
Sources and Notes:
[i] Newfoundland Royal Commission on Forestry Page 30
[ii] Newfoundland Royal Commission on Forestry Page 210
[iii] Newfoundland Royal Commission on forestry 1955 page 51
[iv] Williams, Nelson, News Log
[v] The system operated with three sets of sleds, one would be being loaded, one unloaded and one empty on the way back to the cutting area to be loaded.
[vi] Paul Bunyan Pulloff Daily News. In this case the crew of Clayton Holloway’s camp hauled 5000 cords from stump to river in June using tractors and trucks.
[vii] AND News 1957
[viii] Bowaters (Newfoundland) owned timber limits between the main body of AND Co’s Badger Division and the Halls Bay limits in the west.
[ix] This grew to a whopping 108,500 cords in 1960-61
[x] Most of the operations west of Gambo came under Bishop’s Falls in 1947-48. Supervision of the Gander Lake and Glenwood operations came under Bishop’s Falls.
[xi] Fire burns Jumper’s Brook Camp http://collections.mun.ca/cdm/compoundobject/collection/eveherald/id/41071/rec/2
[xii] Tabulated by Eldon Penney for Roy Saunders.