Logging History

DIVISIONS AND DEPOTS:BADGER PART I

Divisions and Depots-Badger part I-The Early Years

Badger has been in the news lately because of another flood scare. Often this leads people to wonder why a community like this is located on a flood plain and why people came to be in the this place in the first place.

Badger has the distinction of being the only one of the former Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company’s Divisional headquarters to be situated on the Trans-Canada Highway as well as being the one that developed into the largest community. This little town has a history that stretches back a long way. A very, very long way.

People have been living at what is now badger for thousands of years. There is evidence of habitation by the maritime archaic people, the Dorset Eskimos and the Beothuk. Badger was the site of a major Beothuk encampment and it appears that for many families of the doomed tribe it was one of the way points used as they journeyed to Red Indian Lake. It would have been point where families coming from both the east and west would meet on their way to the lake since it is the junction between the Exploits and a major tributary.

After the demise of the Beothuk the area became a favorite camping site for the Micmac people when they made their way from the South coast to the Bay of Exploits and the Hall’s Bay Area. The Paul family, which has been described historically as Micmac Montagnais (a Mixture of Micmac and Innu and as legend might have it Beothuk) hunted and trapped in the area in the latter part of the 19thCentury.  And it is the family of John Paul that might have been the first to actually live in the area permanently. John Paul was noted as living at Seal Bay in the 1890’s, and as the crow flys this is not incredibly far from Badger. It is likely that they fished out of Seal Bay in summer and spent the winter inland at Badger. Other Micmac names associated with Badger include Barrington (from the Piper’s Hole area and a very interesting story in itself) and Joe. John Barrington was known to have trapped in the area and so did Tom Joe whose name still graces a tributary of the Exploits. Old Tom Joe was said to have amassed a great fortune buying and selling furs.

The modern history of Badger starts around 1894 when railway construction reached the banks of Badger Brook. The end of the line in those days would become temporary depot and a hive of activity. Here all materials needed for line construction were dropped and the men would be camped out in tents and tar paper shacks. The work in those days was all manual pick and shovel work and progress was slow. Construction reached Bishop’s Falls around 1892, the next year it progressed as far as Rushy Pond and the following year Badger Brook. All of these sites became bases for section crews maintaining the line.

The Exploits River near Sandy Brook. hundreds of thousands of cords of wood would flow through here over the years. (Howley Collection)
The Exploits River near Sandy Brook. hundreds of thousands of cords of wood would flow through here over the years. (Howley Collection)

Simultaneous to the rail line reaching Badger Brook the Exploits Lumber Company of Botwood set up a depot there since the railway provided them easy access to the area from Bishop’s Falls. From here the Exploit’s Lumber Company exploited the pine around the Badger and Twin Lakes. Eventually in 1901 they would erect a sawmill here. It is not known if the Exploits Lumber Company’s temporary mill in 1901 was the first to be built at Badger Brook, but it would not be the last. Two or three large mills existed at Badger before 1910. The following companies were known to operated there: the Exploits Lumber Company, Harvey and Company (of St. John’s), Newfoundland Pine and Pulp (Harry J. Crowe) as well as a Mr. Bethune-who may have been the same man who operated another mill in Whitbourne. The problem with trying to figure this out is that photographic evidence is nonexistent and other records are scant at best. We do know that Harvey and Company owned a mill here in 1905 and from an examination of records this mill may have been acquired from the Exploit’s Lumber Company-in which case it would have been sold to Newfoundland Pine and Pulp around 1907. In any case most evidence suggests that two mills were in operation around the same time sawing wood for export and for domestic construction. There would have been quite a bit of demand in the area for railway work and in the building of mills and towns at Grand Falls and Bishop’s Falls.

Crew of Exploits Lumber Company Lumber Camp. This company operated as far as Twin Lakes and established a depot at Badger in the 1890's.
Crew of Exploits Lumber Company Lumber Camp. This company operated as far as Twin Lakes and established a depot at Badger in the 1890’s.

Around 1907-1908 the timber limits around Badger were signed over to supply the AE Reed Company at Bishop’s Falls-with the Newfoundland Pine and Pulp Company being the sub-contractor.  As stated in a previous article there is possibility that even before a stick of pulpwood made it from here to the grinders in Bishop’s Falls the timber rights in the area were acquired by the AND Company.

By this point between lumbering and the railway Badger Brook was growing into a little community. A couple of stores and a boarding house had been built to service the people coming through the area. Besides the lumbermen, Badger also served as the transit point for people from the Green Bay and Baie Verte areas who wanted to use the railway.[i]

Some of the Families that were there in the early years were the Pauls, Butts, Colemans and Penney’s. They were joined by a young Englishman who would go on to be through of as the “King of Badger”-Hugh Wilding Cole.

Hugh Cole takes a lumber contract. Offloading supplies for a logging camp around 1908 somewhere around Badger or Millertown. (Provincial Archives of NL)
Hugh Cole takes a big lumber contract. Offloading supplies for a logging camp around 1908 somewhere around Badger or Millertown. (Provincial Archives of NL)

Cole came to Newfoundland as a young man and he got in with the AND CO from the ground floor. He started taking timber contracts for the company and even drove a heard of reindeer for them from St. Anthony to Millertown. When the Company obtained all of the limits in the area between 1907 and 1919 he became the divisional Superintendent.  As such Cole controlled many of the activities in town and was in charge of the employment of hundreds of men over thousands of square miles of forest and waters.

Badger and the Twin Lakes, part of the AND Co Divisional map. (GFW Heritage Society)
Badger and the Twin Lakes, part of the AND Co Divisional map. (GFW Heritage Society)

From the 1910’s until the 1960’s Badger would be divisional headquarters for the AND Co’s Badger division and the transit point for men going south-on the scow across the Exploits on the “Sandy” side or North into the Twin Lakes area. It was also a point where all wood to the west passed on the Badger Drive. Over the years Badger would witness many changes in the woods that surrounded the town.

[i] This would lead to the building of the Halls Bay road in the 1920’s.

What Happened to the Millertown Mill?

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE MILLERTOWN MILL?

What Happened to the Millertown Mill?

Lewis Miller's lumber mill at Millertown was the largest of its kind in Newfoundland when constructed. The timber limits that supplied it along with he mill were acquired by Newfoundland Timber Estates in 1903. They operated on a scaled back basis for about two years before the same limits became the center of the A.N.D Company's pulpwood operations.(red Indian Lake Heritage Society)
Lewis Miller’s lumber mill at Millertown was the largest of its kind in Newfoundland when constructed. The timber limits that supplied it along with he mill were acquired by Newfoundland Timber Estates in 1903. They operated on a scaled back basis for about two years before the same limits became the center of the A.N.D Company’s pulpwood operations.(Red Indian Lake Heritage Society)

Perhaps the Most striking landmark in the town of Millertown is the large iron wheel situated on the beach of Red Indian Lake. It is one of the few remnants of what was once one of the largest industrial complexes in Newfoundland. It is also a reminder of why the community was established in the first place.

Millertown is one of the first ten or so inland communities in Newfoundland. It was established in 1900 when Scottish lumberman Lewis Miller built two huge sawmills here to exploit that stands of white pine that surrounded Red Indian Lake. To make a long story (which will be covered in the future) short: The mill proved unprofitable and unsustainable due to the quality and quantity of pine being inferior to initial investigations.

So Miller sold out to Newfoundland Timber Estates and Timber Estates sold out to the Harmsworth’s and their newly formed Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company. The Harmsworth’s acquired both the mill and the timber limits around Red Indian Lake and began the process of building their massive pulp and paper plant at Grand Falls. To build the mill and associated town site huge quantities of lumber were needed. So the AND Co simply dismantled most of the equipment at the Millertown sawmill and moved it up to Grand Falls. Unfortunately the first sawmill at Grand Falls burned down during mill construction and was quickly replaced by another, it is unknown if they used the same machinery, but there is a good chance that some of it survived the fire in good condition and was used.

An iron fly wheel and piston cemented into a base is the largest piece that remains of what was once the largest sawmill in Newfoundland. Most of the other machinery was shipped to Grand Falls to be used in a sawmill there during mill construction in 1905. (Photo from Milertown Facebook page)
An iron fly wheel and piston cemented into a base is the largest piece that remains of what was once the largest sawmill in Newfoundland. Most of the other machinery was shipped to Grand Falls to be used in a sawmill there during mill construction in 1905. (Photo from Milertown Facebook page)

At least one of the huge barn shaped buildings that had constituted the Millertown mill was taken over by the Exploits Valley Royal stores. Such a large building may seem overkill for a store in a town whose population numbered between 2 and 300 people, but you must also consider the fact that even in the early days of pulpwood logging around 3000 loggers went through Millertown on their way into the camps. On their way they needed to be kitted out with clothes, blankets and tobacco and on the way out they no doubt bought something to bring home to their families in the outport. The Royal Stores also played a role in supplying some of the necessities to those same logging camps and supplying the camp “vans.”

The Exploits Valley Royal Stores branch at Millertown was initially situated in one of the buildings that housed Lewis Millers great sawmill. As early as 1908 3000 different loggers passed through town, most of them making a stop at the Royal Stores ( Millertown Virtual Museum)
The Exploits Valley Royal Stores branch at Millertown was initially situated in one of the buildings that housed Lewis Millers great sawmill. As early as 1908 3000 different loggers passed through town, most of them making a stop at the Royal Stores ( Millertown Virtual Museum)

Today no trace of the mill remains to the best of my knowledge besides the iron wheel. Most of the area in which the sawmill was located is now under water. In 1927 the present dam was built on the Exploits River at Red Indian Lake, raising the water level of the lake considerably and necessitating the moving of the entire town of Millertown to higher ground.

The site of the Grand Falls sawmill has long since been obliterated it was located somewhere near the river in the area behind Riverview Chev-Olds which was used as log storage. If memory serves me correctly the second sawmill at Grand Falls may have burned down as well-which was a very common occurrence considering the condition and flammability of early sawmill operations in Newfoundland.

It is interesting to note that some of the studies done into the mill in Grand Falls-Windsor in later years noted that it was at a little bit of a disadvantage as it was not an integrated lumber and paper mill like some that exist on the mainland. Little did they know that for a number of years the mill was the site of a paper mill and a fairly large lumber mill that turned out thousands of board feet mainly for domestic consumption as the town of Grand Falls grew.

Now with the impending demolition of the mill at Grand Falls upon us they might find some of the machinery that was installed in Millertown in 1900-01 and brought to Grand Falls in 1905.

-Bryan Marsh

Who was Harry J. Crowe?

WHO WAS HARRY J. CROWE?

About ten years ago I was tasked with sifting through thousands of pages of archival material looking for things related to the history of Grand Falls and Central Newfoundland. There was one name that kept popping up in much of the century old correspondence-Harry Judson Crowe

Who was Harry Judson Crowe?

Timber Magnate Harry Judson Crowe. Crowe operated mills in Botwood, Badger and Point Leamington and was a driving force in attracting pulp and paper interests to Newfoundland.
Timber Magnate Harry Judson Crowe. Crowe operated mills in Botwood, Badger and Point Leamington and was a driving force in attracting pulp and paper interests to Newfoundland.

Before there was Grand Falls and before there was an Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company there was Harry Judson Crowe. And Crowe was a man who had his irons in many fires- he was perhaps the greatest timber speculator ever to cross onto Newfoundland Island. No history or account of our forest industries should be without mention of his name.

Harry Judson Crowe was born in 1868 in Halifax to an apparently privileged family, his father was a wholesale grocer, so he was well enough off that he was able to attend a prep school in Wolfville and the Halifax Business College and Writing Academy.  Crowe with one of his brothers later took over his father’s firm. After losing the firm in a mining venture Crowe developed interests in the lumbering industry around Nova Scotia.[i]

Around 1902 Crowe came to Newfoundland and became very interested in the forest resources here. Around the same time Lewis Miller was considering quitting the island and purchasing a lumbering venture in St. Margaret’s Bay, Nova Scotia. It is possible that Crowe became interested in Newfoundland through Miller.

Lewis Miller's lumber mill at Millertown was the largest of its kind in Newfoundland when constructed. The timber limits that supplied it along with he mill were acquired by Newfoundland Timber Estates in 1903. They operated on a scaled back basis for about two years before the same limits became the center of the A.N.D Company's pulpwood operations.
Lewis Miller’s lumber mill at Millertown was the largest of its kind in Newfoundland when constructed. The timber limits that supplied it along with he mill were acquired by Newfoundland Timber Estates in 1903. They operated on a scaled back basis for about two years before the same limits became the center of the A.N.D Company’s pulpwood operations.

In May of 1903 Crowe became the vice president and the main man on the ground of a company called Newfoundland Timber Estates. Timber Estates seems to have been formed for a couple of reasons: One was to try and make the existing unprofitable lumber mills on the island profitable and two to buy up all the timber limits being worked by these mills for possible pulp and paper development.

Crowe often gets all of the credit for bringing the Harmsworths and Sir Mayson Beeton to Newfoundland, but it was found that Lewis Miller had in fact contacted the owners of the Daily Mail in 1903.[ii]But the old Scotsman wanted out his failed venture on Red Indian Lake and sold out to Timber Estates in May of 1903.

Harry J. Crowe was not the president of Newfoundland Timber Estates but he was the face of the company. In the background on the board of directors were some very wealthy men like Henry J. Whitney and B. Pearson as well as W.D Reid-son of R.G Reid owner of the Newfoundland Railway. Timber Estates bought up Millers operations at Millertown and Glenwood as well as other operations at Gambo and Campbellton.  The crown jewel of these acquisitions were the miller timber limits on Red Indian Lake, which within two years were sold to the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company for $400,000-lock,stock and barrel

But the Harmsworth deal was not the end for Crowe in Newfoundland. Besides being a major player with Newfoundland Timber Estates he also incorporated another company, of which he was the president-the Newfoundland Pine and Pulp Company. Pine and Pulp acquired the timber limits and mill of the Exploits Lumber Company based out of Botwood. These limits included  those along the Exploits River from Red Indian Lake to past Bishop’s Falls, limits which would later become Badger and Bishop’s Falls woods divisions.

The lumber mill at Botwoodville around the time when the Newfoundland Pine and Pulp Company operated there.
The lumber mill at Botwoodville around the time when the Newfoundland Pine and Pulp Company operated there.

In addition to the Botwood mill Pine and Pulp also acquired mills at Badger and Point Leamington. Pine and Pulp operated as a straight lumbering operation for a few years. In 1907 Crowe was able to cut a deal with the A.E Reed Company of England to build a pulp mill at Bishop’s Falls. This mill would be completed by 1911 and then things became complicated.

On the mainland it was commonplace for a number of different companies to use the same river for log transportation. To mitigate problems the logs were often branded or marked It is not known if this was done in Newfoundland, because for a few years there were three different companies operating on the Exploits River. The Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company had their mill at Grand Falls, the Reed Company had their mill at Bishop’s Falls and Crowe’s Pine and Pulp Co. had their lumber mill at Botwood. To Further complicated matters Pine and Pulp were supplying pulpwood to both AND Co and A.E Reed. To even further complicate matters they also had their own timber limits in the area and also had a stipulation in their contracts with the paper companies that trees of a certain size had to be left.

This whole situation would have been a major headache requiring different drives to start at different times on the river as the AND wood would have had to pass through both other companies limits. It did cause headaches as noted by contractor Roland Goodyear,[iii]but it is doubtful that they lasted for long because AND started to buy up Pine and Pulp’s and Reeds Limits on the Exploits fairly early on. By the time the Reed Mill at Bishop’s Falls went into production in 1911 most of their timber was drawn from down river of Grand Falls.

Harry Crowe was a driving force in establishing the pulp mill at Bishop's Falls.
Harry Crowe was a driving force in establishing the pulp mill at Bishop’s Falls.

But Crowe kept on at Botwood and Point Leamington. For a time he was toasted by the people of Grand Falls and was the fairy godfather of Botwood. He was at one point a major pulpwood supplier for the Grand Falls mill.  He reportedly started a Kindergarten at Botwood and did progressive things in his logging camps like rig up showers and have teachers come in to teach the loggers. But things began to change in his relationship with the other operators as the years went on. As mentioned previously Crowe drew his log supply from the Exploits River and required logs larger than eleven inches at certain point be left, thus creating a problems for pulpwood cutters.[iv] Then there was a court case. Around 1913 Crowe accused the AND Co of cutting wood from his limits, a lot of wood. The courts found in his favor and A.N.D had to pay restitution.[v] Safe to say Crowe wasn’t invited to many dinners in Grand Falls after that.

Photo of a dinner at the town Hall in Grand Falls 1910. The man third (and insert) from the right is reputedly Harry J. Crowe
Photo of a dinner at the town Hall in Grand Falls 1910. The man third (and insert) from the right is reputedly Harry J. Crowe

By the 1920’s Crowe was beginning to pull away from Central Newfoundland. A forest fire had destroyed most of the timber supplying the Point Leamington mill, and most of the pine needed to supply Botwood was gone and by the 1920’s A.N.D Co had solidified its position in the area by purchasing all of the timber limits in the area and the pulp mill at Bishop’s Falls. He was getting up in age and also had lost a son in the Great War. But Crowe had another timber venture up his sleeve.

Harry Crowe and Newfoundland Pine and Pulp's steam lumber mill at Point Leamington circa 1907. Pine and pulp also operated mills at Botwood and for a time Badger. (PhotographerJames Andrews, Point Leamington Heritage Society)
Harry Crowe and Newfoundland Pine and Pulp’s steam lumber mill at Point Leamington circa 1907. Pine and pulp also operated mills at Botwood and for a time Badger. (PhotographerJames Andrews, Point Leamington Heritage Society)

This time Crowe went into White Bay and set up at Hampden. But this operation was short-lived and the timber limits were bought out by the operators of the brand new pulp and paper mill at Corner Brook. Crowe died in the summer of 1928[vi]and is buried in Toronto. At the time of his death Crowe was still a fairly wealthy man. He had been noted as a philanthropist while operating in Botwood and this was continued in his will which set up scholarships and pledged money to help the Salvation Army is its missions around the globe.[vii]

Not only was Crowe a great lumberman and timber promoter he was a great advocate of Confederation between Newfoundland and Canada. This was evident as far back as 1908 in letters between him and Sir Robert Bond. Crowe also wanted to go further and unite all of the British colonies in the Western Hemisphere including those in the Caribbean.

No matter if Crowe bring the Harmsworths to Newfoundland or not he had a huge part to play in the development of the interior. Strangely for man who was at one point one of the best known businessmen in Newfoundland there isn’t a documented and definitive photo of the man to be used for this article.[viii]

[i] http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/crowe_harry_judson_15E.html

[ii] Hiller, James Origins of the Pulp and Paper Industry in Newfoundland , journals.hil.unb.ca/index.php/Acadiensis/article/download/…/1232

[iii] Goodyear, Roland C. Lewis Miller and Harry Crowe.

[iv] Roland Goodyear

[v]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Newfoundland_cases_of_the_Judicial_Committee_of_the_Privy_Council_%28pre-1949%29

[vi] http://ngb.chebucto.org/Wills/crowe-harry-judson-14-293.shtml

[vii] Ibid.

[viii] There is some confusion between Harry J. Crowe and his nephew Henry (Harry) S. Crowe who was woods manager for A.N.D Co in Millertown for many years.

After this Article was published a reader in Botwood came up with a picture of Mr. Crowe.

THE “BADGER DRIVE” EXAMINED

Bateau on the Exploits River Log Drive. By the time most of thee boats reached Rusy Pond they were pretty battered from logs and rocks encountered on the river. (Photo in the collection of the Grand Falls-Windsor Heritage Society. Original copyright was held by the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company. Original Photography was likely JCM Hayward or E.I Bishop.)

The “Badger Drive” Examined

“There is one class of men in this country that never is mentioned in song.

And now, since their trade is advancing, they’ll come out on top before long.

They say that our sailors have danger, and likewise our warriors bold,

But there’s none know the life of a driver, what he suffers with hardship and cold.

 

Chorus: With their pike poles and peavies and bateaus and all

They’re sure to drive out in the spring, that’s the time

With the caulks on their boots as they get on the logs,

And it’s hard to get over their time.

 

Bill Dorothey he is the manager, and he’s a good man at the trade;

And when he’s around seeking drivers, he’s like a train going down grade,

But still he is a man that’s kindhearted, on his word you can always depend.

And there’s never a man that works with him but likes to go with him again.

 

I tell you today home in London, The Times it is read by each man,

But little they think of the fellows that drove the wood on Mary Ann,

For paper is made out of pulpwood and many things more you may know,

And long may our men live to drive it upon Paymeoch and Tomjoe.

 

The drive it is just below Badger, and everything is working grand,

With a jolly good crew of picked drivers and Ronald Kelly in command,

For Ronald is boss on the river, and I tell you he’s a man that’s alive,

He drove the wood off Victoria, now he’s out on the main river drive.

 

So now to conclude and to finish, I hope that ye all will agree

In wishing success to all Badger and the A.N.D. Company.

And long may they live for to flourish, and continue to chop, drive and roll,

And long may the business be managed by Mr. Dorothey(sic) and Mr. Cole.[i]

Log drivers freeing a log jam on the Exploits River 1910-1919. (Photo from the Grand Falls Windsor Heritage Society)
Log drivers freeing a log jam on the Exploits River 1910-1919. (Photo from the Grand Falls Windsor Heritage Society)

The Badger Drive is surely the most well-known song about the logging industry in Newfoundland. It was also one of the earliest song written about logging in Newfoundland, having been written just four years after the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company began to cut pulpwood. It is worth looking at the people, places and things mentioned in this song.

The Badger Drive was written in 1912 by John V. Devine. Devine had been employed by the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company as a scaler and had been fired. He wrote his famous song to suck up to the Company with hopes of getting his job back. He performed the song at a concert attended by company officials and it reportedly worked.[ii]

Wood was driven on the rivers and streams of Newfoundland for around eighty years. When the Badger Drive was written the AND Co was driving long wood and the drive was a glamorous operation requiring great skill. Men actually rode the logs down the river and risked life and limb working with the easily jammed long wood.

Log drive in the early years. In the mid 1920's the AND Co switched to short (5 feet 2 inch) wood which was much easier to handle and drive.
Log drive in the early years. In the mid 1920’s the AND Co switched to short (5 feet 2 inch) wood which was much easier to handle and drive.

As the song mentions the tools of the trade included pike poles, peavies and batteaus. The pike pole was the most commonly used tool on the drive and it was used right up through to the end of log driving. It consisted of a very long pole with a hooked spike at the end which was used to guide and pry logs on the river. A peavey was a type of cant hook with a spike at one end and a hinged hook on the bottom which was used for rolling and moving large logs. A bateau was a river boat that was built like a large and sturdily built dory pointed on both ends. Batteaus were used to reach piles of logs located out in the river and as transportation for the crews as they moved down the river. One tool that is not mentioned in the song but widely used was dynamite. In the days when long wood was driven dynamite was used quite a bit to dislodge log jams The caulks on the boots were spikes driven into the soles of the drivers boots that gave them better grip when walking on the long wood.

Bateau on the Exploits River Log Drive. By the time most of thee boats reached Rusy Pond they were pretty battered from logs and rocks encountered on the river. (Photo in the collection of the Grand Falls-Windsor Heritage Society. Original copyright was held by the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company. Original Photography was likely JCM Hayward or E.I Bishop.)
Bateau on the Exploits River Log Drive. By the time most of thee boats reached Rusy Pond they were pretty battered from logs and rocks encountered on the river. (Photo in the collection of the Grand Falls-Windsor Heritage Society. Original copyright was held by the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company. Original Photography was likely JCM Hayward or E.I Bishop.)

There are three people mentioned specifically in the song, they are William Dorrity, Ronald Kelly and Hugh Wilding Cole. William Dorrity was an expert river driver from the state of Maine who was brought in by the AND Co to run their drive. Ronald Kelly was another river driver. Kelly was a native Newfoundlander from Gambo where he had gained considerable river driving experience driving wood to the sawmills in that area. Kelly later went to work in the Grand Falls mill and was tragically killed when he was hit by a car in 1947. Hugh Wilding Cole was an Englishman from Kent who had immigrated to Newfoundland around 1902. He was one of the earliest employees of the AND Co. He eventually became the manager of the Badger Woods Division-a position that he held until the late 1940s or early 1950s. Cole was also a Captain with the Newfoundland Forestry Unit in the UK during the First World War. [iii]

There are a few geographical places mentioned in the song. “He drove the wood off Victoria, now he’s out on the main river drive” this line refers to two places, namely Victoria River which is a fairly large tributaries of the lower Exploits River System that flows into Red Indian Lake. Wood would have been driven up Victoria, boomed on Red Indian and towed the short distance to the North where it would have been sluiced into the Exploits or “Main River.” The Exploits was refereed to by many loggers as the “Main River.” After all it was the main river used in log transport and there were drives on all the tributaries of the Exploits River. These feeder Drives were sometimes quite large and included operations on: Victoria, Harpoon and Lloyds Rivers, Great Rattling Brook, Noel Paul, Sandy and Badger Brooks. Mary Ann, Pamehoc and Tom Joe are all also tributaries of the Exploits. Mary Ann flows from Mary Ann Lake on the North Side of the Exploits Pamehoc and Tom Joe are brooks located on the South Side of the River. All three tributaries flow into the Exploits within a few kilometers of Badger. Another important tributary that might be missed in relation to the song is Badger Brook itself. Badger Brook flows through a series of lakes (Joe’s, Paul’s and Crooked Lakes) connecting the Exploits to South Twin Lake. Over the years hundreds of thousands of cords of pulpwood were driven down this system. All the wood from this system as well as all the wood from Red Indian, Harpoon and Noel Paul would have had to go through Badger. There were times a person could surely walk across the Exploits on the logs!

Wood in the mill pond at Grand Falls,
Wood in the mill pond at Grand Falls,

Once the pulpwood reached Badger it started the final stage of the Drive. There were quite a few obstacles like the Badger Chute and the numerous sand bars that had to be dealt with by the drivers before the wood reached the booms at Rushy Pond. The Drive never ended at Grand Falls the drivers only went as far as Rushy Pond where the main holding boom was located. Then presumably it was the responsibility of wood handling crews from the mill at Grand Falls who would open the boom to let in wood as needed. The Drive usually started in April as the snow melted. Most of the wood would be down to Rushy Pond by August but I have come across recorded instances of driving on the Exploits still going on in October!

When I was a kid I remember climbing to the top of Candy Rock off Lincoln Road. Back then it was about one of the best places to look down into the mill pond and see the boom of pulpwood and the little boats that tended to it. In retrospect I wish that I had a camera. You would be surprised at how long the log drive went on. It was the Early 1990’s when the last wood was driven down the Exploits. After that all wood was trucked and now the mill is closed, but if you go down on the Exploits, at certain places you will still find sticks of pulpwood on the banks. These along with Mr. Devines famous song reminders of the “Main River Drive.”

Notes:

Of interesting side note both Tom Joe and Pamehoc have native origins. Tom Joe being named for a Micmac trapper of that name. Pamehoc is a name of more obscure origins and I have not been able to find out if it is Micmac or even Beothuck. This said the brook itself flows from a picturesque lake and was used for pulpwood driving as lake as the 1970s. I have fished Pamehoc it is still full of pulpwood from the last drives. I have crossed Tom Joe many times and find it hard to believe that it was possible to drive long timber on this little brook, but things may have been different further up near the Exploits and with the use of dams.

 

Resources:

John Ashton “The Badger Drive”: Song, Historicity and Occupational Stereotyping

Western Folklore Vol. 53, No. 3 (Jul., 1994), pp. 211-228

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Badger_Drive

[i] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Badger_Drive

[ii] John Ashton “The Badger Drive”: Song, Historicity and Occupational Stereotyping

Western Folklore Vol. 53, No. 3 (Jul., 1994), pp. 211-228

[iii] Cole would be joined in this unit by other men who would become higher echelon A.N.D Woods department officials like Harry S. Crowe ( Not to be confused with his uncle Harry J. Crowe) and Bryan Potts. Both of whom would be managers of Millertown Division.

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