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Early Industry Case Studies

Aspects of the Lumber Business in Alberta to 1930

Log Flumes, c.1910.Logs! Thousands upon thousands of them tumbled along the Bow River, crashing through the swift water like wooden torpedoes. The people of Calgary had never seen a spring like the one of 1887 when the Eau Claire and Bow River Lumber Company decided to float the result of an entire winter's worth of logging from its holdings in Kananaskis and upper Bow River down to its mill at Calgary. The undertaking was a new experience, not only for the people of Calgary, but for the lumber company itself, and the first log drive on the Bow River was not without its problems and tragedies.

Sawmills, c.1910.The river itself was a challenge. It possessed many idiosyncrasies and displayed every one for the log drivers. The Bow ran fast in some places, slow in others. Deep in some areas, in others it was so shallow that it was almost possible to wade across. It could twist and turn like a snake. As a result, the Bow easily tossed up on shore almost as many logs as it floated downstream. The log drive took all summer before it reached the Calgary mill, with a major part of the job being just keeping the logs in the river.

The thousands of settlers who would come to Alberta over the next 25 years would need wood. They were going to build their homes, their towns, and eventually, their province. The early days of the logging industry in Alberta were guided by this faith in the potential of the region. The first logging interests bet their future on the potential they saw.

Kelly Buziak. Toiling in the Woods: Aspects of the Lumber Business in Alberta to 1930. n.p.: Friends of Reynolds-Alberta Museum Society and Alberta Culture and Multiculturalism, Historic Sites and Archives Service, 1992. With permission from
Friends of Reynolds-Alberta Museum



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