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Restigouche River, New Brunswick

A TRIP TO THE FORKS

    In the fall of 1918 I hired to go to the bush with Ray Farrar, who was logging at nine mile on the little Main River. I landed at my Uncle Isaac's, who had a home at the mouth of the Kedgwick, sometime in the afternoon. I was just coming into the yard when I heard someone hollering from the other side of the river. "Can you come and get us," the man said. I looked up and saw no one around but I saw a small canvas boat drawn up on the shore. It had rained a couple of days and the water was high and swift, but I thought I would go over and get them. That was a great mistake. I should have known better, as I had no previous experience with a fourteen foot canvas canoe or how ticklish it was and knew nothing about this river, and as a result I nearly lost my life. However I boldly stepped into the boat, I would show these greenhorns how a riverman handled a canoe and I did but in a different way.
   I should have gotten down in the bottom with a paddle and just to show you how little I knew, I stood up with a pole and with a mighty shove that took the canoe one quarter ways across the river, I danced a jig for a minute or two. I didn't fall out, I jumped out. I don't know how far down I went but after awhile I came up. The boat was a long ways down the river and I was alone in those raging waters except for some spectators on the banks. They appeared from nowhere. Strange where people come from when there is trouble. Although I was a busy boy at that time, I heard one say , "he can't swim." others chimed in but what they said I can't remember. I could swim but with my winter clothes and boots I was having trouble, although they may have helped to keep me afloat for a little while, even if I could not swim much, but I could flounder and that is just what I did all the while going down stream where the Little Main and the Kedgwick Rivers come together. one thing I learned that day and that was even if you can't swim running water will keep you afloat and take you somewhere and you may have a chance to grab something, whereas if you fall into still water and can't swim, you just sink.
    It flashed through my mind that I had better get ashore soon for if I got down to where the two rivers came together I was lost and I had only a couple of hundred feet to go. So I half swam and half floundered when wonder of wonders I touched bottom, but the water was still up to my neck. I was bobbing up and down like a yo yo. I was now close to the shore and dangerously close to the two waters, but this is where fate stepped in. Lying out from the shore was a bunch of alder bushes. This was my only chance, if I missed this chance I would have no other. I made a desperate grab and caught one and held on for dear life and those two gentlemen hurried over and managed to get me ashore. Although the water was freezing cold I hardly felt it till now. About one half hour later someone got a boat and took the two hunters, as they proved to be, and myself back to my uncle's home. I was cold, otherwise, alright. The boat was picked up a mile or so below, right side up, but the paddles and pole were gone. I had learned one lesson, I had another to learn shortly, for the next morning I nearly came to grief. As you know I was on my way to Nine Mile camp to work in the bush but Uncle Isaac was guardian on the Kedgwick at that time but wanted to stay at home as he was busy getting ready for winter.
   He made arrangements with his son Ray for me to go up to the forks with the scow as the guardian always went along with the scow I suppose to see that there was no poaching on the way. He asked me if I would go in his stead. I said, "Sure I will, but not with that little canoe." He said, "Take the big boat." In the morning Uncle Isaac said, "wait till you see the scow coming up the main Restigouche River then go down the Little Main." The same river that I had floundered across the day before, "and catch the scow just before it went into the Kedgwick." It soon hove in view, it was at the far side of the Main. I sat down and with a paddle this time and I said to myself I won't be fooled the second time. I made straight for the scow. I wondered what I was doing wrong for one of the scow crew was making signs for me to do something. I didn't understand him at the time but soon found out. Not realizing what swift water can do I was going for a head on collision with the scow. If two of the scow men had not grabbed the boat just in time I was in for serious trouble. I should have turned my boat upstream and sidled into the scow. That is what the crew were trying to tell me. Lesson number two. I was learning fast the hard way. However we reached what they call the rapid without mishap.
    The rapids was the first storage sheds for the lumbermen. It was a depot for the various camps on the Kedgwick River and they portaged to their individual camps. This depot was looked after by a man by the name of Gildered. He lived alone and his only pastime and hobby was making hunting knives. He made them with tempered cross cut saw blades. The handles were leather washers and twenty-five cent pieces and copper pennies. They were beautiful knives. He gave them all away. That is how he whiled away the lonely hours. This was not our destination. We were heavily loaded with provisions for the forks. When we arrived at the rapids we couldn't get through, as this is what they called the fall freshet. We would have to wait until the water abated. It was here I saw a man with true grit and raw courage. When we moored our scow at the foot of the rapids, the foreman said we would have to wait till the water goes down a little perhaps tomorrow. The rider said: "I will try with three horses without the scow in the morning." This place was well named, The Rapids. The water was boiling around the rocks in a white foam. It was swift and terrible and the bottom was probably rough. In the morning the rider challenged these raging rapids.
   These horses were powerful and obedient. They tried to force their way upstream till the water ran over their backs, then they had to fight their way ashore. Three mornings they tried, three times they failed and had to retreat. The fourth morning they fought their way through and we were on our way to the forks. If medals were given on the Restigouche River this rider would have won an award. He was a gallant man. We arrived at the forks without further delay. This was another group of sheds. It served the same purpose as the ones at the Rapids. This place was looked after by a man by the name of Clyde Hience. He lived alone and he had no hobbies but he had a pet and companion. He was a tame marten and he called him Billie Marten. He was a great friend of Clyde's. He would eat out of his hand and he would stroke his back, just as you would a kitten, but he shied away from strangers, though he did put on an acrobatic show for us. He ran up a post in the shed and jumped from one joist to another the full length of the shed, about a hundred feet, back again and down the post to Clyde. He made his home in the shed and was great company for this lonely man. I heard after that when Clyde retired he took Billie to a Zoo in New York. It was here that a great fight took place between two giant lumber jacks.
   I know their names and the outcome but will :ay nothing more about it here, except to say the river men talked about it for a long time. We discharged our cargo loaded the horses on the scow, and went back down river without incident and I spent the winter at Nine Mile on the Little Main

STEAM LOG HAULER

   Many ways for hauling logs have been used over the years but always the horse has supplied the power, but the mechanical age was catching up on this noble animal and overtaking this method of log hauling on the Restigouche River.
   One winter the steam log hauler appeared on the Kedgwick. It was a woodburning, wheezing, snorting monster. It hauled four especially built sleds, each loaded with about fifty logs. It was a break through in the logging industry. It was always thought that the horse was the only answer to hauling logs on such rough terrain. Although this machine was used a few winters with good results, this method did not come into its own until the gasoline powered caterpiller tractor and truck came into use. Even then the lumbermen were dubious of this new idea.
   The small jobber couldn't afford the initial cost of these machines, but the big companies saw the advantage and they had the money, so why not do away with the horse and the jobber as well. With those machines they could haul farther and faster. They could have one camp where now they had four and any profit made would go to the company instead of the jobber. Slowly but surely the jobber and horse were pushed into the background and mechanical log hauling took their place. So quietly was this done that the jobber didn't realize what was happening. Even if he had he was powerless to stop the advance of the machine. Mechanical logging was inevitable, so almost sadly a new era came into the lumber woods. Roads were improved, portaging was no problem, as there was no scowing to do on the rivers and no portaging from the river to the camps. The crew could go home on week ends, whereas the old lumberjack would be away from home months at a time. Better camp conditions too.

   Later the chain saw took the place of the cross cut and the buck saw, the working hours were shortened and many, many other things improved the life of the lumberjack. Indeed the rough, tough, rugged, bearded lumberjack of old, became a neatly trimmed and neatly dressed gentleman of the forest.

OX BOW LOG HAULING

    Another unique method of hauling logs on the Restigouche River was what we called the Ox Bow.
   Sometimes the lumberman would have the problem getting the logs to the river. He may have to haul them a few miles on level land with two sleds to within sight of the river, but it would be far below and the hillside too steep for two sleds and not suitable for a sluice and as the crazy wheel was too expensive for a small jobber, so the Ox Bow was the answer. This was located on the brow of the hill and consisted of two bow shaped cedar logs. These grew quite common on the hillside. One placed on each side of the road and the ends well frozen in the ground. When the two sled load came in between a spruce log was shoved under the load and on top of the bow at the starting end.
   This acted as a roller and when the load went ahead the roller rolled up the bow, this raised the load off the tail sled, then a man unhooked the cross chains and the team went down the hill with one sled, this was then tail dragging. Of course very big loads could not be hauled this way but it was quite satisfactory. I hauled this way for awhile one winter arid found it interesting.

FRENCH CANADIAN LOG HAULING

    The French Canadian used a different idea to get their winter cut to the river. I worked one winter in one of their camps and had the opportunity to see their system first hand. They liked to log close to the river if possible and always used a single horse. There was nothing spectacular about their way of logging but it got results. Their theory was load light and go often. It had some advantages over the team method. One advantage was on a fairly good road one teamster could handle three or four horses. I myself drove two single horses, just drive the leading horse and the other would follow. Another advantage, the road for a single horse could be narrow and didn't need the maintenance that a double did. They used no ice or ruts.
   As a matter of fact they didn't seem to care about the road at all. If it got too bad they just threw in two skids lengthwise, whereas a team road would be skidded crosswise when a cut off occurred. Their sleds and harness were unique. First the sleds were the same as any other logging sled but the shafts were different. They were made with a turn up at the sled end and held together with a strong wooden bar and connected to the runners by two short chains. This gave them plenty of play. When they came to a hill the sled rode up on the bar, this acted as a brake. The turnup on the shafts kept them from digging into the road. There was no wiffle tree or traces but there was a short chain going back to the shafts and were fastened there, this meant that the hauling was done by the shafts. The britching was also fastened there. Some teamsters took great pride in their horses and would decorate them with high peaked collars, known as scotch collars and brilliant horse hair tassels on their bridles. Their horses were of French Canadian stock, not big as horses go, but I am sure that a pure bred French Canadian horse, pound for pound, is one if not the strongest horse in the world and the most gritty. I suppose there are not many pure breeds left today except perhaps a few kept for exhibition purposes.
   I can only remember one other way to haul logs, the travois. This was a small type of sled and had two runners turned up and came together at the front. This allowed it to sheer off from the trees and with a few logs could go over most any trail. The travois was used mostly by farmers who only had a few logs to haul

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