Life in the Woods :

Good records of timber and lumber making in the Haliburton region are scarce. Any records of activity relating to the production of square timber are few and far between. They came to the fore in the saw log era when local mills and operations were the norm.

Haliburton men would be drawn to the woods from their farms as the agricultural season drew to a close. Working in the woods enabled them to make payments on their farms and equipment and provided them with a source of ready cash. Most forest operations were all winter work. It was a hard life. The men arose early, set off by first light, and did not often return until after dark. George S. Thompson, a local lumberman, wrote of life in the camps. "One blanket was allowed to each man, and two men usually slept together. The men turn in with all their clothes on -socks as well- and the only use a shantyman has for a coat in the bush is to make a pillow for his bed. If a man attempts to wear a coat in the bush the foreman will soon tell him to take it off and ask him if he cannot work hard enough to keep himself warm."

Logs were skidded out along the runways and thousands of sleigh loads were piled along the creeks, rivers, and lakes, to await spring when they could be flushed downstream to the mills. The most famous names in the history of logging in Haliburton were known across the country. In the early years Mossom Boyd of Bobcaygeon was the central figure in the local industry. His depot farm and limits were situated in the northern townships centred on the lands now occupied by the Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve. He signed a contract with the Canadian Land and Emigration Company which eventually allowed him to take out 40,000 logs per season.

The smaller local companies of course are the best remembered. The local mills acquired considerable timber limits, albeit ones that had already been heavily logged. These companies included Mallory and Bryans, their successors the Carews, and the William Laking Lumber Company among others.

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Life in the Woods