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Restigouche River, New Brunswick


   The cook would be there. He would get there a couple of days ahead of the men so he could get some things cooked for the crew. They would go to work in the morning, very early in the morning, or I should say late at night. The cook would come into the sleeping quarters and holler "Roll out!" We would have a little wash, (and I mean little) in ice water from a barrel that the cookee had filled the night before. Then we would hit for the cook room. After we had eaten a hearty breakfast we would come back to the sleeping quarters and finish dressing. Some fellows slept with their pants on, and I have to admit, I was one of them. It wasn't daylight yet and soon the foreman would come and kick the door and say "turn out". If he was in a good mood he might say "turn out, it's daylight all around the camp." We would go down the trail to the brook with our peevee or cant hook. Not a long pickpole as they use'today. No running along the shore poking at a few sticks of pulpwood. In the old days the river driver would call them sissies. Some of the men would be put to work rolling in landings, others would watch for jams at bad turns. I think this was the best job, because if they saw a wing jam building up they would clear it away before it was too late.
   There would also be three or four men as jam crackers. These were the most experienced and their job was to break any jam that occurred. They could see where the key log was and sometimes they would have to use dynamite to start it. When the jam started they were agile and knew how to get to shore safely, where a less experienced man could not. This was all dangerous work and don't be misled by that innocent sounding name 'brook'. It was a little brook no more, but a body of water, wild and treacherous, and could be a death trap. We wore long driving boots with corked soles (and I might say we were very proud of these boots) and if they were tallowed and well taken care of, would last for years. We wore heavy mackinaw jackets. I have seldom seen a rain coat (just a bother I suppose) and as it was the rainy season, we would be wet all day.
   One thing I always dreaded, and I was not alone, was sometimes crossing the stream going to or from work. A long spruce tree would be felled across the narrowest place and the limbs would be trimmed off. We would call this a stringer. It was just that. We would have to cross carrying our peevees and knew then what the old sailors were thinking when he was forced to walk the plank.
   We were terrified, although we tried not to show it, as we did riot want to be branded a coward, in modern slang, 'a chicken.' That log swayed, shook and trembled and so did I. I felt awful sorry for one boy who tried to go on hands and knees. He didn't get very far, but was luckily saved from disaster as the water boiled beneath him, it was a fearful thing. Twice a day we had to cross that awful pole. One morning, Joe, our boss, made a slip and some of the boys working on a wing jam below plucked him out of the water, wet, but safe.
   We ate well. Four meals a day with two lunches out on the job. For breakfast- beans and brown and white bread, molasses, butter ginger cake, white cake and prunes, breakfast never varied. The lunch carrier brought out our lunch in a white bag. One could hear tin dippers rattling for a mile and you knew he was on his way. Pretty soon you would smell smoke and those beautiful words 'Lunch O'. He didn't have to call a second time. Bread, clear fat pork, always molasses (a must in New Brunswick and Quebec), ginger cake, that was our lunch. The nights were not so pleasant. We sometimes slept in what they called a field bunk.
   Well named, it stretched from one end of the sleeping camp to the other, covered with one blanket and I was only a small man sleeping between two lumber jacks. They turned over only twice or three times a night. A bully at one end would give the order to turn. With all the wet socks and other wet clothing hanging on a hay wire line, and such a low ceiling, it was not a very pleasant place to spend the night. Although the men grumbled a lot, which was their privilege, they were for the most part a jolly lot and took things as they came. There were camps at different points along the brooks and the men would use these camps as the drive went along. When the drives were all into the main Restigouche the Corporation drive would begin. The boom company would take over the driving of the logs to the main boom at Tidehead, and North Shore Boom. Some of the brook drivers would stay on with the Corporation drive, the rest would go home and collect their pay, which would not be hard to carry. One spring I worked twenty-five days and collected twenty-five dollars. I hope I wasn't overpaid.
   Now we will leave the river drive to the Boom company. I will tell you of a trip to Pine Island, a Restigouche Salmon club camp.
   In 1916 I applied for a job as a waiter as the regular waiter was in the army. I was surprised to be accepted. I was pretty young for work of that sort, but I got along not too bad but I am sure I was not the best waiter in the world.
   On the 23rd of May we left Matapedia with a scow loaded with provisions for Pine Island and Indian House. If you have never seen a scow, and I doubt that you ever have, I would like to tell you something about them and how they were constructed. They were a wonderful craft and I know of no other that could navigate those treacherous waters, loaded with the tons of provisions and drawn by horses or otherwise. They were built by old time craftsmen and they were masters of their trade. With no other tools than a broad axe, whip saw, adz hammer and a few other simple tools, they built this masterpiece, no other craft could take its place and I doubt if there is one scow builder left on the Restigouche and as for the scows, they are only a memory.

    About sixty-five or seventy feet long and a flat nine foot wide bottom and the side twenty-two inches high. There was a slow turn up at each end also a wide and thick gunwale running the full length of the scow. At the bow and set at a slight angle, was an iron pipe through a hole and protruding about twelve inches above and twelve inches below a strong wooden plank. This was called a bow pin. A hardwood post six inches in diameter and about six feet high, fastened at the bottom of the scow and running up through a narrow walk or plank that rested on the gunwales, this was what they called a mast. It was placed a few feet back from the bow. This gave a pivot effect when the scow was in motion and made the scow easy to steer. At the stern was a sweep made of spruce wood some twenty feet long and sat between two iron pins, one on each side. This sweep was shaped so as to lay parallel to water when the sweep man walked back and forth on the sweep walk to steer the scow. This walk was made of plank about two feet wide and rested on the gunwale and back from the stern a few feet. This scow carried a tremendous load, upwards to seven tons and for such an unwieldy looking craft, it handled very easily.

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