Backwoods Lumbering During the 1880s

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I recently came across a reprint of Picturesque Canada (ed. by George M. Grant), a two-volume compendium originally published in 1882 of Canada’s history, people and places.  These marvelous books feature hundreds of intricate wood engravings that bring to life with vivid imagery the then still new and developing confederation.  These illustrations of the lumber trade depict the hardships of that way of life, with most of these also seeming to associate that occupation with the extra harsh conditions of winter, which is fitting for the cold weather that is now creeping in up north. (Click images to enlarge.)

Chopping and Sawing

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A Jobber's Shanty; Marking Logs at Skidway

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Arrival of Supply Train at Lumber Depot___

A Sawmill in the Backwoods

6 responses

  1. Enjoyed reading this, and seeing these pages.
    My wife and I have visited many old mills where we live trying to better understand the removal of timber as it is so evident.
    When it is done with the future in mind, it seems a good idea, but when we take without stewardship as can be seen in the past, different measures need to be taken into consideration.

    • Thanks for your comment! It’s actually quite amazing the extent of the clear cutting that was done in days gone by. When I stand in a forest I often wonder about how what is visible has been affected by long ago activities. Of course, to our ancestors using the abundant resources was very much about survival and in the face of such vast supplies and fairly primitive harvesting methods, I’m sure the feeling was that the supply was limitless. Not so much the case now given modern machinery and methods.

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