Issue: July 2019
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Next deadline: August 29


Written by
Published on January 2018

Early next morning Uncle George told me that “today we were going to the sawmill.” 

I assumed it would be made with another trip in the car but no, we went down to the lake where the men were yarding (a new word to me).  First, they cut at the trees which had been marked for timber.  This was done by sheer muscle power.  No power saws then.  Axes were used first to cut the wedge in the trunk, then by sheer hard work a long crosscut saw was brought into play and the men laboured until they had cut through and the tree was swaying where they wanted it.  I was most impressed by their skill and with one or two swings of the axe it toppled over exactly on the spot chosen.  The yarders then knocked a steel peg into the trunk and hauled it by a horse down to the big ramp by the lake.  When the ramp was full it was cut loose.  All the logs rolled with a noisy roar into a huge boom ready to be floated down to the mill for processing.  This is where we were going by the motor boat.  I pause to give credit to the yarding horses.  They did not need driving.  They knew just where to go, having done this no doubt hundreds of times, into the lake.  What I am describing is no doubt old stuff to my readers but it was as I saw it – fresh from the old country, as it was locally known.  As the logs met the water they were floated into the huge boom made of logs by the lumbermen with their peevees.  They amazed me by their agility hopping from one log to another without as much as a wet foot.  All was nearly ready as Uncle George and I made our way to a small motor boat, and he said, “We are off for a boat ride now young fella.  Hope you can swim.  No life jackets here.  We will be going up the lake for about one and half hours.  All being well, the car will be driven around to meet us.” Uncle George sat me in the bow and he and a lumberman sat in the stern.  The engine was started up and off we went with the lumberman taking the tiller.  This was very exciting for me for even though I had recently come over about 3000 miles by ship, it was still a great thrill to be put-putting up the lake.  As we went into clear water I was given a short spell at the tiller steering the boat, under their watchful eyes of course.

Deer were seen by me on the banks for the first time and many birds.  After about 90 minutes we sighted the mill and pulled over to a jetty.  Lumbermen scrambled around the log boom and started to haul them up a huge ramp and into the mill.  Uncle George and I went around and he showed me various aspects required to turn trees into various sizes of timber.  The car had arrived from the other camp and soon it was time to head for home.  But, there was to be another surprise yet to come for me.  Uncle George said, “now young fella, can you drive?”  Me!! Good gracious no!!!!  “Well,” he responded, “now is your first driving lesson.”  He sat in the driver’s seat and pulled me onto his lap.  I could just reach the steering wheel fine and so off we go.  “You steer young fella and I’ll keep my feet on the controls.”  And so off we went.  At first I went this way and then that but I soon became accustomed to the road which was just a track through the woods.  I was doing fine except that I made the usual mistake of an amateur, the error of turning the steering wheel too much at one time and subsequently we were zig zagging down the road.  We covered quite a distance like this until Uncle George pulled up very quickly.  He had spotted two deer coming through the trees which would have collided with us.  I watched transfixed as they passed right in front of our car.  All was well.  We carried on as before until we came to a dirt track. “Turn left” he said and about a mile up the track we came to a farm.  As we drew up to the front an elderly man and lady came out to greet us and invited us in.  We had coffee and biscuits handed to us.  The couple engaged in conversatoin with Uncle George about their welfare.  Me, well my eyes were transfixed at what I saw hanging on the wall next to a rifle.  It was a gun belt with bullets around and in the holster was a huge (to me) long-barrelled six gun.  I was told on asking that it was a colt.  Would I like to try it on?  Would I?  And I did.  It was very heavy for me, but I felt just like the Lone Ranger.  Visit over, I took the passenger seat and Uncle George drove us both home.  What a tale I had to tell!!!!

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