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Early Industry Case Studies

Work Camps

Logging CrewThe work the men performed in the bush camp was varied. The most obvious job was that of the fallers who sawed the trees down. Fallers, generally working in pairs, used axes, cross cut saws and wedges. They not only cut the trees but had to calculate how the trees should fall. They used an axe to chop a notch called an undercut in the side of the tree on which they wanted it to fall. Then, using a cross cut saw, they sawed from the opposite side until the saw blade bound in the undercut. A wedge was then driven into the cut behind the saw to release it, and the sawing continued until the tree toppled over. Sometimes the fallers sawed large trees halfway through on one side, then completely through on the other. Once the tree was down, the bucking crew trimmed it of its branches.

Standing Timber And Log Scaling, c.1910.The second major job after cutting was the transportation of the felled trees. Generally most of the bush work took place in the winter. Snow and frozen ground made hauling heavy loads of logs out of the bush much easier. Horses were used to haul the logs to piles, and also to pull the sleds that carried the logs. If a river was to be the main source of transport, the men piled the logs along the frozen banks to await the spring thaw. If the railway was used for transport, then the logs were hauled to a railhead.

Logging at Poplar CreekPreparing and maintaining the roads in and out of the bush was another job for loggers. The road crews worked the night shift when everybody else was in camp. They sprayed water on the trails to form a layer of ice to support the sleds, making it easier to haul the huge loads. Any hills had to be sanded to prevent loads from slipping down and crushing the horses and driver. Despite the danger, driving a sled was generally considered a pretty good job, especially if a man liked to work with horses.

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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