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.
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
Now we will leave the river drive to the
Boom company. I will tell you of a trip to Pine Island, a Restigouche Salmon
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