Authors Note: In 1997 to 1998 I did a study concerning the history of lumbering on the Nipissing Forest. The futher I got the more I realized that this was much much bigger than I realized so I went looking to find out what happened. From a number of books and maps I discovered that logging for Timber Red (or Norway) Pine started north of Mattawa circa late 1830's and both the supply and demand for this as dwindled in the late 1850's. In it's place came the demand and another assault on the forests for white pine and spruce for lumber. This was totally different from the first extraction being organized like large armies and massive - in that process I came across a book entitled -- The Lumber trade of the Ottawa Valley (1870) that had a description of some of the principal manufacturing establishments. Because I was astonished on what had gone on 140 years ago I have condensed and annotated it in the following web page. This is a very large step to understanding the extraction of wood in the Lake Nipissing area, which began the extraction with the construction of the CPR 1882-3 as far as North Bay of it's drainage through the French River it would seem that all the extracted logs would go that way. But the J R Booth Lumber Company had already had Timber berths/limits in the area of Phelps, Bonfield, Chisholm, Widdifield, etc. They moved into what is now the village of Bonfield (then Callandar) and set up head quarters proceeding to cut these areas in 1881. Because they had established and "improved" the Mattawa river and Kaibuskong rivers(outlet of Lake Nosbonsing) after that they improved Depot Creek including "splash ponds" and started to change the water course of the Wasi River (which flowed into Lake Nipissing and the Great Lakes) but they were caught by a Crown Land Agent and had to stop. This caused the most interesting extraction of wood that I have yet run across - and another story.

Returning to the 1870 Government report I had already discovered that a 7 thousand year old pathway which had been relatively heavily used a road (game/aboriginal nastawagn/bonkahnah/lumber) road, sometimes known as St. Pierre's Road, existed from Pembroke to the Arctic Watershed (near Mattachwan and Kenogami):
  • from the initial Legal Survey Township Maps and various authors like Peter Fancy's "Temiskaming Treasure Trails the earliest years", and W. E. Logan's - Upper Ottawa Survey - 1845 and some HBC journals that the lumber trade (the McConnell's and the HBC) had reached to beyond the mouth of the Montreal River on Ottawa River's Lake Temiscaminque in the 1836 although it seems that at that time they concentrated on extracting red pine for squared timber and not much white pine or spruce was harvested until after the 1860's because these conifers could be used for building, cabinetry, boxes, pails, etc. rather than masts and spars.

    Logic told me that:
    • Men alone couldn't handle these huge timbers by themselves so draught animals (oxen and horses) were brought in to accomplish that chore.
    • There was also a need to fuel these animals as well as provide food for the working men.
    • There was dozens of rapids/falls north of the De Joachim (Swisha) rapids and the only water transportation then was birch bark canoes, row boats and portages (one of them as long as six miles in boulder strewn country.)
    • Any horse or ox in a canoe or row boat would demolish these craft and probably kill or maim the other occupants immediately!
    • So the only way to bring these animals and supplies upriver was via a land route (called a "tract"or road or trail.)
The massive flows of the melting Laurentian ice sheet from 10,000 to 8,000 years ago, the meltwater could not flow north because of the blocking ice cap so everything from the west slope of the Rockies to mid North Quebec flowed down the Ottawa River from for thousands of years , leaving major beach strandlines on either side of the Ottawa River all the way down to below the Des Joachim rapids (where the Champlain Sea estuary stopped.) The strand lines were caused by an extreme narrowing of the river just six miles below Mattawa, a major restriction of the Ottawa River consistently for almost 3 millenia raising the level of meltwaters to 244 metres (Atlantic Sea Level) leaving these beach strandlines about 244 metres above the level of current (undammed) Ottawa river. By way of explanation, Lake Temiskaming's current mean level is 200 metres ASL which means these strandlines occur 44 metres above that. Elevation evidence indicates that the glacial Lakes Aggassiz, Ojibway and Barlow were also implicated.

Those beach strandlines provided level and exceptionally good footing. Animals (mostly caribou) tended to follow them closely and the people who depended on these animals for food also tended to follow these trails. The lumbermen did the same simply there were already fairly good trails all along the current Ottawa River above the Des Joachim rapids to the Arctic watershed (but varying from zero to many kilometres from it.)

click for a pdf
  • It is logical that those lumberers used these pathways to get the men, draught animals, food & fodder into the areas where the extraction was and in doing so improved them even further.
  • By the time of this book's writing -- 1870 -- a road, then known as St. Pierre's Road, existed along the Ontario shore of the Ottawa River all the way from Des Joachim rapids to the Height of Land.
  • So this trailway was heavily used by the lumbermen and settlers of New (now Northern) Ontario but became redundant and virtually abandoned with the introduction of the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario (ONR) railway in 1905 although many subsequent modern roads (other colonization road (1853), the CPR railway (1880), Secondary 533 (1885 - 1890) and Highway 63 (1937)have covered it in most parts. Until the drowning of the Ottawa River now known as Lac La Cave in 1852 the 1885 portion (Mattawa - Seven League Lake) of this road was used extensively until 1953. It is still used in some form for access to the public boat launch to this day.
  • All along this passageway there had to be service (fuel (food and fodder) and rest) stations
      These were located about every 10 miles (16 kilometres) or about a days drive for oxen.) This varied as they were usually established where there was some arable land. These became farms to produce much of the food and fodder and to pasture the draught animals during the summer season. Most still exist although some are now almost all overgrown but almost none are flagged as such!)
After a chance meeting with the Ottawa River Keeper's Great River Project Trip #1 and a following hot spell I decided to stop my procrastination and convert this book to a web page introducing some comments to help the reader understand some of the early history of the Ottawa River and the lumbering of the eastern portion of the Nipissing Forest. Conversion of the book is for the most part in black type italics -- I tried to keep the same wording as the original. My comments are enclosed as maroon italics


THE LUMBER TRADE
OF THE
OTTAWA VALLEY
WITH A DESCRIPTION OF SOME OF THE
PRINCIPAL MANUFACTURING
ESTABLISHMENTS.
THIRD EDITION.
Printed by the Times Steam Printing and Publishing Company.
1872.

A short preliminary description of the course of the noble river which gives its name to the principal lumbering region of Canada, will not, we hope, be uninteresting to the general readers of this little work.

Although few adventurous tourists have traced the Ottawa to its source, amidst the forest solitudes of the far northern wilds, from all such travellers we hear glowing accounts of the magnificence of the surrounding scenery, and the vastness of the dense, primeval forests which clothe its banks.

The Indians, in their harmonious language, named this beautiful stream the Kitche-sippi, or Great River ; and when we contemplate the mighty cataracts, and sleeping lakes, the foaming torrents and furious rapids, the gigantic clifFs, and monster boulders which distinguish its rapid journey towards the sea, we cannot but be struck with the appropriateness of such an appellation. The other name, Ottawa, is also Indian in its origin, and is pronounced Ot-taw-wagh; ???? the word signifies the " human ear," but in what consists its appropriateness as applied to either river or city, is a mystery that has never yet been solved. Probably some mighty chief, of the ancient tribe of Indians who dwelt in this region ,was so named as a compliment to his excellent oral qualifications, and bequeathed his name, not only to his descendants, but also to the river in whose waters they fished and upon whose banks they raised their wigwams. This tribe, the Ottawas, were driven from their hunting and fishing grounds in the Ottawa valley by another tribe, the Iroquois, and retired to the district bordering on Lake Huron, and to this day a few descendants of the once numerous and powerful tribe are still living on Great Manitoulin Island.???? The valley of the Ottawa, i. e. that portion of country which is drained by the Grand River and its tributaries, contains an area of about 80,000 square miles most of it good land, capable of improvement when brought under cultivation, and producing in its wild state, some of the finest and most valuable timber in the world.


Although this region furnishes so large a portion of our Export trade, and contains some of the grandest and most picturesque scenery on this continent, it is but little known to Canadians, and still less to English people, with the exception of those immediately connected with the lumber business. Few, save the hardy raftsman, steering the fallen kings of the forest to the distant markets of the Old World, and the adventurous trappers in search of precious fur-bearing animals, have ever seen the full magnificence of Nature's charms in this untrodden region.

Now, however, the time is coming when the Ottawa Valley will be opened up to the world; railways are projected, and some in the course of construction which will bring the splendours of its scenery within the reach of all; and soon the tourist will wander where formerly "human foot hath ne'er or rarely been;" and the pencil of the artist will reproduce for distant lovers of the beautiful, many a glorious scene whose loveliness has long been hidden from the enchanted eye of man. This beautiful river then, whose course to the sea, or rather to its confluence with the St. Lawrence, we wish to describe to an indulgent reader, is called indifferently either the Ottawa or Grand River, and is supposed to take its rise in some lake or lakes, situated about the fortyninth degree of North Latitude, and seventy-sixth of West Longitude.

During the first three hundred miles of its course it receives many tributaries and expands into large lakes only two of which, however, have been surveyed, called respectively the Grand Lake, and the Lake of Fifteen-Portages; the forest solitudes which border on its banks, have been rarely invaded save by Indian hunters and a few wandering trappers belonging to the Hudson Bay Company, and are uninhabited save by deer and other wild animals.

If Indian tradition may be credited, one of the numerous lakes into which the Ottawa expands in this wild region, is nearly equal in size to Lake Huron, but its waters have never been navigated by white men. (authors note-> this is unfounded and is wrong)

About three hundred miles from its source the Ottawa becomes better known to us, having been explored so far by Government surveyors, and here it expands into a long and narrow lake bearing the Indian appellation of Temiscamingue.

This lake presents more than one hundred and twenty miles of unbroken navigation, and receives the drainage of a region containing an area of upwards of 30,000 square miles.

Amongst the chief rivers which flow into this great basin, may be mentioned
After leaving Lake Temiscamingue we descend the Long Sault Rapid, which is about six miles in length with a fall of forty-eight feet,

and enter another beautiful expansion of the Ottawa, called the Seven League Lake, into which the small river Anthony which empties itself on the south side. (authors note - >-> This must be the Jocko River.)

This Lake is about seven miles long, and is followed by two formidable rapids called respectively, Les Montagues, and Les Erables. Immediately below the last named rapid the Ottawa receives on its north shores the waters of the river Nottawissi which pours itself over a fall fifty feet in height, with a body of water nearly equal to that which forms the famous Montmorenci Fulls below Quebec.

After passing another rapid called the Cave or Cellar, the Ottawa receives the river Mattawa which has a course of about forty miles from a westerly direction and is divided by only a short portage of three-fourths of a mile from Lake Nipissing.

The voyageurs and trappers of the North West and Hudson's Bay Company made use of this route to the far West, ascending the Mattawan to its source, thence by portage to Lake Nipissing, crossing which they entered French River, which, after a course of fifty-five miles, dropped them into Lake Huron r the distance of this route between the Ottawa and Lake Huron being about 120 miles.

Below the mouth of the Mattawan the Ottawa flows in a narrow and rocky bed with strong currents and frequent rapids and falls, the most remarkable of these is called the Rocher Captaine, where the River descends over three distinct falls ; the central rock is forty feet in height and the velocity of the current, impetuously bounding over the dark masses of rugged rocks which impede its progress, renders the scene strikingly grand and picturesque.

Below the Rocher Captaine falls, the Ottawa receives two tributaries on its northern, and two on its southern shore, of which the River du Moine on the north is the highest and most important, and we then arrive at the tremendous rapids Les Deus Joachims. These rapids have a descent of about twenty feet and have been made navigable for timber by extensive slides and dams, erected by the government at very considerable expense, beside these rapids on a point which projects into the River and commands one of the finest river views in Canada is situated a most comfortable Hotel and here the first sign of approaching civilization is found in a regular distribution of the mails.

The river below the rapids is about a mile in width, and runs so perfectly straight that a ball projected with sufficient force would follow the water for a distance of twenty-five miles. This splendid reach of the Ottawa is called Deep River, because rafts with 100 fathoms of chain have been unable to find anchorage in it, and much resembles the Saguenay in its scenery. The southern shore has high, but sloping and well wooded banks, while on the northern, a bold and lofty mountain chain rises 600 to 800 feet above the water ; one remarkable rock called the Oiseaux, towers bare and perpendicular to a height of nearly eight hundred feet and gives back a magnificent echo to the lively boat song of the Canadian voyageur.
The lower end of that part of the Ottawa, called Deep River bears the name of Allumette Lake.
The waters of Allumette Lake are studded with numerous beautifully wooded islands, and the scenery much resembles, though it surpasses in beauty, that of the St. Lawrence at the well known Thousand islands.

At the lower end of this Lake, near the mouth of a small stream called Indian River (authors note-> it should be noted that the Muskrat River and this one join before entering the Ottawa in Pembroke.) is situated on the Ontario side, the thriving town of Pembroke, which is growing yearly, in size and importance, owing to its extensive trade with the lumbermen of the surrounding region. It is sometimes called the capital of the Upper Ottawa, and is an active, busy little town.

After passing the short rapid of Allumette and the island of that name which is fourteen miles long and eight wide, we arrive at the beautiful expansion of the Ottawa called Lake Coulonge, altogether a navigable reach of water, fifty miles in length. On the northern shore of the Lake, the mountains rise to a height of 1600 feet, and the scenery is very varied and beautiful.
At the foot of Lake Coulonge the channel is again divided by Calumet Island, which is about twenty-five miles long.

The principal rapids on the northern side of the island, are called the Grand Calumet, the Derange, and the Sables, whilst those on the Southern side bear the name of the Rocher Fendu, they are about seven miles in length but a portage road and slides for timber have been constructed at great expense and in a very substantial manner. From the head of the Calumet falls to the pretty village of Portage du Fort the river falls over a hundred feet, and the scenery around is exceedingly beautiful.

The Rocher Fendu Lake, where the two channels which form the Islands reunite, is surrounded by lofty banks, and beautified by numerous thickly wooded islands ; here there is scarcely a ripple on the surface of the water, and its quiet picturesque beauty presents an admirable contrast to its impetuosity up above, where after passing over the Calumet falls with a furious leap, it descends a series of rocky terraces and dashes itself against the granite boulders that impede its progress until its waters are converted into milkwhite foam.

At Portage Du Fort there are some fine marble quarries and collectors can obtain some beautiful specimens of mica combined with feldspar and quartz, and lovely pink and white statuary marbles.

About six miles below Portage du Fort we come to a series of rapids called Les Chenaux ; the river is here studded with small wooded islands between which the water rushes with great impetuosity, but excepting in very high water when some of the eddies become perfect whirlpools, these rapids are navigable for steamers.

Passing les Chenaux, we arrive at Lake les Chats, a beautiful expanse of water about sixteen miles long and varying from one to four miles in width. A number of small islands are scattered over its surface and as the lake is perfectly straight, the placid beauty of the scene is presented to the eye in uninterrupted loveliness. The origin of the curious name of this lake and the rapids which succeed it has not been determined with certainty,
Three large tributaries swell the waters of the Ottawa at Lake les Chats flowing from the Ontario side, viz.
  1. the Bonne Chere which is about one hundred and ten miles long.
      Note: "improvements done by lumber companies"
  2. The Madawaska two hundred and ten miles in length,
  3. and the Mississippi over one hundred miles long,
      Note: "improvements done by lumber companies"
and each of them draining a vast area of excellent timber producing land.

At the mouth of the Madawaska is situated the important village of Arnprior, where there are extensive saw mills and also marble quarries. Immediately below the Lake occur the remarkable rapids of the same name. The river there is not far from a mile wide, and its course being barred by a huge ledge of limestone nearly three miles in extent, it pours its vast volume of water over the obstruction from a height of fifty feet by a series of falls ; in high water as many as thirty-three distinct falls may be counted, separated from one another by islands. Over each of these cataracts falls a body of water equal to an ordinary sized river, and their picturesque beauty would attract crowds of delighted visitors had they occurred in any country of the Old World. The rocks between the cascades are clothed with trees whose branches and foliage overhanging the water add greatly to the beauty of the scene.

Tourists are conveyed past the interruption of navigation produced by these falls by a horse railroad, of rather singular construction and quite one of the curiosities of the Ottawa. It is three miles long and its commencement at Lake Chats being fifty feet higher than its terminus at Lake Chaudiere or Desch6ne, the latter is rather elevated and has to be approached by a lofty staircase. The rails are laid on piles of squared trees and as the ground is frequently very uneven, being sometimes a swamp and sometimes a ridge of granite, it has been necessary at times to pile the timber over twenty-five feet from the ground to maintain the necessary level of the rails. There is no fence or railing of any kind at the side, and the whole seems rather a dangerous route to an inexperienced passenger, but we believe no accident has ever occurred though it has now been constructed for a number of years.

After passing the Chats rapids, the Ottawa receives on the South side, the waters of a small stream called the Carp, and almost directly opposite on the North side those of the Quio, also a small river, but one which drains a country producing some of the most valuable white pine timber in the world.

We now arrive at Lake Deschene or Chaudiere, a lovely expanse of water, about thirty miles long, and from one to two in breadth. The land on either bank is remarkably fine, and in general, well settled and cultivated ; and as we approach Ottawa, we meet with fine farms, and handsome houses and grounds in abundance.

The pretty town of Aylmer is situated at the lower end of the lake, about eight miles from Ottawa on the North side, and just above the succession of rapids which precede the grand falls of the Chaudiere.

The rapids continue for about five miles, and have altogether a descent of about sixty miles, and are immediately followed by the magnificent falls which form one of the loveliest views on the Ottawa.

These falls are second only to Niagara in height and extent, the ledge of rock over which they fall being only sixty feet in height while the river above them is five hundred yards wide ; but the volume of water is nearly equal to that of Niagara, and the surrounding scenery, with its magnificent view of the Parliament Buildings of Canada, is far more varied and beautiful.

Immediately below the falls on the north side of the river is the village of Hull, the great lumbering depot of the Ottawa, of whose immense and flourishing mills and factories we shall have more to say in another place.

Opposite Hull on the south bank of the river, stands the City of Ottawa, whose site 30 years ago was an unprofitable farm; at present the political metropolis of Canada; it numbers 25,000 inhabitants, contains many large factories and important buildings, and is yearly growing in size and importance.

Note: "almost all of "improvements" of the tributaries south of Ottawa were done by lumber companies"
After these two rivers the Ottawa receives no other large tributary until close to the junction of its southern Branch with the St. Lawrence. Below Montreal the River L' Assumption flows into it after a course of one hundred and sixty miles. At its mouth the Ottawa forms the island upon which stands the city of Montreal and the rush and volume of its waters is so great that it drives its larger but quieter sister, the St. Lawrence, completely upon the south bank, while the difference between its placid blue water and the dark and turbulent tide of the Ottawa is clearly discernible. The Island of Montreal and Isle Jesus divide the mouth of the Ottawa into three branches; in two of these the channel is interrupted by rapids, but by the north branch the lumber of the Ottawa region finds its way to the St. Lawrence and finally Quebec. The waters of this grand river are not merged in those of the St. Lawrence until near Bout de l'Isles one hundred and thirty miles from the city of Ottawa and six hundred from its source. From Ottawa to Montreal the river, with one interruption, is navigable for steamers, and the trip, in its varied beauty of river, lake and forest scenery, is unrivalled from Ottawa to Grenville a distance of fifty-eight miles, the views are those belonging to a noble river passing through a richly wooded country, where dense forest, smiling farms and busy village succeed one another on its banks; at Grenville commence the Longue Sault rapids, and the interruption of navigation is overcome for the tourist, by a comfortable railroad twelve miles long to Carillon, where he again embarks and almost immediately glides into the beautiful Lake of Two Mountains, so famous for the loveliness of its scenery; then passing the rapids of St. Anne by a short canal with one lock, he arrives at Lake St. Louis, and the St. Lawrence River, having spent exactly one day in the transit between the two cities. In this short sketch of the course of the Ottawa many of its smaller tributaries have been omitted, but enough have been mentioned to show the vast extent of country comprehended in the broad Valley of the Ottawa.

The river, as we have shown, like the St. Lawrence, consists of a series of wide expanses or lakes connected together by rapids of greater or less length and its prominent characteristic is its great volume and the impetuosity of its course. In ascending it we meet with every variety of river and lake scenery and the tourist is never fatigued, for the constant variety makes every view, from rugged grandeur to placid loveliness, appear novel and delightful.


Having given this general view of the Ottawa river and its surrounding country, before we enter upon the drier details of the lumber trade which is carried on upon its banks and those of its tributaries, we will strive to bring before our readers an interesting sketch of the course of a lumber raft, from its formation until its final departure at Quebec for the distant markets of the Old World.
The life of a lumberman is full of adventure and peril, but they are a hardy vigorous race, and seem to enjoy the most robust health, and care little for the fatigues they undergo.

The trade in timber, is yearly becoming more extensive and the following statistics will convey some idea of its importance. During the last few years over 80,000,000 cubic feet of timber have been cut down in the forests of Canada, 13,000,000 dollars worth of which was exported to Europe and the United States, Great Britain alone taking 8,000,000 dollars worth.

To cut down and prepare the timber, 15,000 men are employed in the forests, and in saw and planing mills where it is manufactured for exportation there are 10,000 men employed.

In the transportation of that portion of the timber which leaves Quebec, over 1,200 large ships and 17,000 seamen are engaged, and if we add those employed in the navigation of the rivers and lakes, and in the transit of partially manufactured material to the United States, there would be 26,000 men engaged in transportation, or a total of 50,000 men employed altogether, its freight for shipment is over 1,500,000 tons, and its accessories half as much more, and for the supply of this great industrial army, 26,000 tons of agricultural produce are annually required.

As we have before stated, the trade which has already reached such large dimensions is annually increasing as the lumbermen are yearly advancing farther and farther up the Ottawa and its tributaries, in search of the timber which has grown for centuries to maturity on their banks ; and every year many of these men settle on the lands which they have observed in their wanderings, to be favorable for agricultural purposes.

Thus the country of Upper Ottawa is becoming rapidly opened up for settlement and civilization, following the adventurous footsteps of the lumber merchant and his sturdy workmen.

The streams (all of them on which once grew the conifers (pine, spruce, etc.) and bigger than a man could jump at the rapids were totally and, quite probably changed from their original configurations by transport lumber down them - they have never recovered and probably never will! Following are some of the bigger tributaries into the Ottawa but virtually all the streams into the Great Lakes suffered the same fate if there were conifers growing on their watersheds.

Many improvements have been made of late years by the Government in the navigation of the Ottawa and its tributaries, by the construction of slides and booms to facilitate the passage of timber past the frequent rapids and falls, and the following list of such works taken from the last Report of the Minister of Public works may not be uninteresting in this place :--

THE OTTAWA DISTRICT. Note:
The use of dams below refer to " TARGET="">"splash dams"" in which small creeks were dammed to ensure massive amounts of water to flush the logs down the driving streams in a semi controlled way. Now almost all of these are gone but beaver insist in building these dams up again and when these dams rot and burst enormous flows of water suddenly fill the streams below them and quite often the flow from one may trigger the burst of another. They have caused a great many catastrophes such as washed out roads, railways, etc. In the MTO (highway) we often referred to these as dam bombs and there are thousands of them in Ontario.


The necessity for the construction of dams to certain additional points on the Ottawa, so as to afford the means whereby a more abundant supply of water can be obtained for use in the slides, is again urged by parties interested. The lumber trade of this district has now attained such increased proportions that the works on which the supply of water to the slides is dependant, which answered their purpose tolerably well while the trade was in its infancy, have become inadequate to perform the services required, the result being that during dry seasons the passage of timber through the slides is difficult, owing to the scarcity of water. His Excellency the Governor General was pleased, by Order in Council, dated the 18th May, 1870, to authorize the Incorporation, by patent, of the " Ottawa River Improvement Company", a society formed for the purpose of effecting improvements on the upper waters of the River Ottawa, to facilitate the descent of timber, the Company binding itself to adhere to certain specified conditions.
Following is the Government's list of "IMPROVEMENTS?"
  1. Gatineau River Qc
    In ascending the Ottawa, the Gatineau is the first tributary possessing Government works. These works are all at one station, about one mile from its confluence with the Ottawa. They consist of:
    1. 3,071 lineal feet of canal ;
    2. 4,188 lineal feet booms;
    3. 62 lineal feet bridge;
    4. 10 piers,
    5. and one slide keeper's house.

  2. Madawaska River
    The Madawaska is the second tributary in ascending the Ottawa, on which the Government has provided works for the descent of lumber. List of the names of slide and boom stations on the Madawaska, numbered from the mouth of the river upwards :
    • 1. Mouth of river.
    • 2. Arnprior.
    • 3. Flat Rapids.
    • 4. Balmer's Island.
    • 5. Burnstown.
    • 6. Long Rapids.
    • 7. Springtown,
    • 8. Calabogie Lake.
    • 9. High Falls.
    • 10. Ragged Chute
    • 11. Boniface Rapids.
    • 12. Duck's Island.
    • 13. Bailey's Chute.
    • 14. Chain Rupids.
    • 16. Opeongo Creek.
    The works at these stations consist of:--
    1. 1,760 lineal feet of slides,
    2. 18,179 lineal feet of booms,
    3. 4,080 lineal feet of dams,
    4. 4,080 lineal feet of dams,
    5. 182 lineal feet of bridges,
    6. 48 piers
    7. 1 slide keeper's house,
    8. and 1 work shop.
      The slide at High Falls sustained considerable damage in the spring of 1870, in consequence of the unprecedented height of the river, the water of which passing over the Nagle dam, caused a breach in that work through which the debris, mingled with large quantities of logs, escaped. This mass, on coming in contact with the slide, tore down five hundred feet of that structure. efficient measures were taken for the reconstruction of a portion of the damaged work, so as to admit of the season's lumber being passed through. This accident and the generally decayed state of the slide, will, it is feared, necessitate its being entirely rebuilt before the beginning of another season.
  3. Coulonge River Qc.
    The Coulouge is the third tributary in ascending the Otttwa, on which the Government has placed slides and booms.

    The following is a list of the Government works on this river :
    1. Boom at the mouth, 800 feet long, one support pier.
    2. Boom at Romain's Rafting ground, 400 feet long and three support piers,
    3. Booms at Head of High Falls Slide, 1,848 feet long and six support piers.
  4. Black River Qc
      Ascending the Ottawa, the Black River is the fourth tributary upon which works have been placed. The works consist of:--
      1. 1,189 lineal feet of single-stick booms.
      2. 873 lineal feet of slide.
      3. 346 feet of glance pier.
      4. 185 lineal feet of flat dam.

    • Petewawa River
      the fifth tributary in ascending the Ottawa, upon which Government slides and booms have been made.
        Seven miles from its mouth the Petewawa separates into two branches. On these seven miles there are five stations ; on the north branch there are eighteen stations, and on the south branch eight stations.
          List of the slides and booms on this river, in the order in which they occur, from the mouth upwards
          • 1. Mouth of River.
          • 2. First Chute.
          • 3. Second Chute.
          • 4. Third Chute.
          • 6. Boisdur.

          North Branch:--
          • 1. Half-mile Rapid.
          • 2. Crooked Chute.
          • 3. Between High Falls and Lake Traverse (are a slide and a series of dams and Booms].
          • 4. Thompson's Rapids.
          • 5. Sawyer's Rapids.
          • 6. Meno Rapids.
          • 7. Below Trout Lake.
          • 8. Strong Eddy.
          • 9. Cedar Islands.
          • 10. Foot of Devil's Chute.
          • 11. Devil's Chute.
          • 12. Elbow of Rapids.
          • 13. Foot of Long Sault.
          • 14. Between Long Sault and Cedar Lake (south shore).
          • 17. Between Long Sault and Cedar Lake (north shore).
          • 18. Cedar Lake.

          South Branch.:--
          • 1. First slide.
          • 2. Second slide.
          • 3. Third slide.
          • 4. Fourth slide.
          • 5. Fifth slide.
          • 6. Sixth slide.
          • 7. Seventh slide.
          • 8. Eighth slide.

          The works at these 31 stations are as follows : --
            On the Main River:-
            1. 2,363 lineal feet of slides,
            2. 8,469 lineal feet :of booms,
            3. 2,077 lineal feet of dams
            4. and 7 piers.

            On the North Branch:-
            1. 380 lineal feet of slides,
            2. 2,671 lineal feet of booms,
            3. 1,181 lineal feet of dams,
            4. and 23 piers.

            On the South Branch. --
            • 2,134 lineal feet of slides,
            • 388 lineal feet of dams.

  • River du Moine. -- The sixth and last tributary of the Ottawa upon which the Government works have been executed is the " Du Moine." The length of this river is about 120 miles, and it drains an area of about 1,500 square miles. It flows into the Ottawa from a northerly direction at a point about 256 miles above Ste. Anne.

    From this extract it will be evident to all that the Government have been at great expense already in developing the Ottawa and its tributaries, and that still further improvements are intended by a Company which, will render this natural highway to the Sea, still more valuable to the lumber trade of Canada.
    I know for a fact that I missed the Bonnechere River (or did I) and I am quite sure that the Dumoine River was the last probably because the bulk of the lumber trade (at least for red pine which was the species that was used for timber usually called sticks and mostly over 60' long which was brought for British uses mainly in ship building which actually happened up as far as Lake Temiscamingue in the mid 1830's) stopped there. On the Nipissing forest the Magnasippi River Qc, Aumond Creek, Bastien Creek, Rankin Creek, Mattawa River, Antoine Creek, Colton Creek Qc, Snake Creek Qc, Jocko River, Beauchene Creek Qc along with creeks and rivers flowing in Lake Temiscaminque all show evidence of "improvement!" this warrants a separate web page.

    We will conclude this division of our subject by another little extract from Mr. Langevin's report showing the quantity of timber which passed down the Ottawa, during a year, from July, 1869 to July, 1870.

    Through the Chaudiere Slide from Upper Ottawa country there passed the following products of the forest :
    Total 13,628

    Through Hull slides from the Upper Ottawa :--
    Through the Gatineau booms and other works :-- This statement does not include the vast quantities of sawlogs brought down to supply the Ohaudiere Mills.

    THE PROCESS of MANUFACTURE.

    The saw-logs when got out of the forest are taken to the nearest point on the Ottawa, and left to be drifted down by the stream, each firm having a private trade mark on each log by which they are recognized. At the Ohaudiere they are caught by booms spread across the river above the falls, and guided through the different slides to the respective mills where they are to be sawn.

    At the mills the logs are hauled up out of the water by a powerful wheel always in motion, and so placed on the cradle which guides them through the saws.

    There are various kinds of saws, each performing its particular duty in the process. The slabbergate, which contains from 18 to 20 saws, cuts the outside of the log into boards of 1 in. thick, leaving the bulk in a slab of 14 inches in thickness, and of different widths according to the size of the log, 37 in. being the largest. A.s the saw gets through the end of the log, these outside pieces are taken away and trimmed to the required size by the butter and edger.

    The large slab is then turned over on the flat side and run through the stock gang which contains from 30 to 40 saws placed about 1 inch apart and sawing the slab into 1 inch boards. These saws can be changed at will to saw 2 inch or 3 inch boards. It takes these saws about 8 minutes each to get through a log of the ordinary size.

    The Yankee-gate is a combination of the slabber and stock gate, and contains about 32 saws. This gang saws both ways, the teeth of the slabber facing one way and those of the stock the other. By this means the log is sawn by the slabber as described above and the slab turned over and sent back through the stock gate, so that while the slabber gang is dividing one log the stocks finishing off another. The single saw is used for sawing the logs into pieces of about 3 inches square, the gate acting in the same way as the other gangs, but with only one saw, which performs the whole work. These gangs are all worked on upright pivots, the machinery underneath forcing the gate up and down at a considerable rate, on the same principle as the old saw-pit fashion, where one man works on top of the Iog and another underneath.

    The butting and edging tables are for the purpose of taking off the rough sides and ends of the planks as they come from the larger gangs, and are fitted with counter saws for this purpose.

    The planks are laid on the table, and a revolving chain with catches in it carries the wood along past the circular saw which takes off the outside pieces leaving the plank the required width and length, and disposing of the waste and damaged wood.

    As the planks pass over these tables the foreman marks each one according to its size, and they are then wheeled out on hand trucks to be taken to the piling grounds.

    These piling grounds are of vast extent, and are in many cases supplied with railways over which the lumber is drawn in horse trucks ; but in some cases the lumber is slid through a hole into a large trough of running water which carries it to its destination.

    End of book - 1870 Lumber Trade on the Ottawa River!

    (author's note:->
      It seems to me that this book was written by someone for the Department of Public Works.
        Very much or all of this book favours the big lumber barons and mill owners (almost all but J R Booth were actually US Citizens

        Chapter 5 (page 60) and chapter 6 (page 91)of Michael Martin's report - WORKING CLASS CULTURE - and the development of Hull, Quebec, 1800-1929 a recent article (2006) tells another side the people of the story!



      It must also be kept in mind that in 1870 transportation (other than canoe or foot) did not go up along the Ottawa very much beyond the Des Joachim (Swisha) even though the Union Forwarding and Railway Company did have some steamship transportation during open water season.

      In the freeze up conditions (winter) transportation was strictly by sleigh using a millenia old aboriginal trailway that literally followed (within a varying 3 mile offest)the eastern bank of the Ottawa River and the nothern bank of Montreal rivers right up the Artic Watershed - this was what allowed the bringing of draught animals (oxen and horses) along with food animals into the early lumber camps both red and white pine extraction.

      The waterway portion would have been:
      1. 1868 steamship Emerald plied Lac Deschenes
      2. unkown steamship(s) on Alumette Lake
      3. 1871 steamship Kipewa from Taits Landing(Swisha) to Rocher Capitaine (Bissets Creek)
      4. 1872 steamship Deux River to foot of Duex Riveriere rapids.
      5. 1876 steamship Mattawan to Mattawa (and further to the mouth of Antoine Creek) and the foot of the La Cave Rapids
      This transportation system was brought to it's knees when in 1881 the CPR reached Mattawa and passed by North Bay in 1884.

      To that point very little of the Nipissing forest, just the eastern segment, was cut and then mostly for red pine (with attendant major forest fire destroying a lot of white pine) until the CPR reached Mattawa in 1881 when serious extraction of white pine really began.

      This accelerated when 1n 1884 the Oblate missionaries who got the federal governments to fund a weird (passageway of 4 steamboats and 4 portages along with a major steamship, the Mattawan, on Lake Temiscamingue for purposes of settling the fertile eastern shores of that lake.
        In 1884 the Mattawan was taken by men rowing up stiller waters and winching up rapids (an almost impossible chore chronicled by Father Paradis, Oblate - page 4 and some watercolours page 12

        ) to provide a steam ship for transportation on the 90 miles of Lake Temiscamingue. Within years quite a number were added to this particularly for bringing in settlers, lumbermen and towing logs down to the rapids.
      The Ontario government countered with upgrading an (aboriginal/lumber) pathway to colonization road status eliminating the lower 3 steamboats and passageway. To this the Oblates made improvements (horse drawn trollies and a narrow gauge railroad with a steam locomotive and 2 cars which forced the Ontario government to extend the road further to right across where the steamship berth and in 1894 this prompted the Oblates and feds to fund the CPR railroad spur to these steam ships at Gordon's landing (now Temiscaming, Quebec.) This a factor in a major increase in taking the pine (from there to the Arctic watershed divide further upstream down the river.

      Logic tells me that that before the time of this publication the sticks and logs would be dependent on the flow of the river and the winds from rapid to the rapid. They couldn't kedge because of the very great water depths so in calm water or adverse wind they had to stay there or row the raft or boom along.

      Steamboats changed that by towing rafts and booms of logs through these stretches of calm water.

        So in 1882 with the steamboats being introduced above Mattawa and on Lake Temiskaming there is no doubt that this lumbering and transportation increased very substantially above Mattawa. This would be boosted again when the CPR arrived in Mattawa (1881) to Mattawa, the Temiskaming Colonization Railway (four steamships, three horse drawn tramways and narrow gauge steam railway), and the steamboats (Mattawan and Minivre) on Lake Temiscamingue in 1882. A rapid escalation of tug and streamboats followed on that lake, Lake Kipewawa, Larder Lake, Lac Victoria, etc..

        So 10 years after this book was produced the Nipissing Forest really felt the effects of the heavy cutting.

        The introduction of alligators really boosted the extraction pines and spruces from the biggest part of the Ottawa River drainage basin!


        The sheer amount of lumber sawn combined with the lost bark and other waste had left the Ottawa River to be one of the most polluted rivers on the continent.

        The lumber barons controlled the government and this continued until these industries collapsed between 1910 and 1930 when there was a shift to pulp and paper.

        The Ottawa RiverKeeper is aware of the past pollution of the lumber trade on the Ottawa River particularly below Ottawa and some of the other old sawmill sites because over the first 5 pages are dedicated to this in their Notes on a Water Quality and Pollution History of the Ottawa River.

        David Lee's book "Lumber Kings & Shantymen" - Chapter 9 (pages 223 to 228) entitled "Was it worthwhile to cut down all those trees" is an excellent read.
        • In 1860 (only 5 years after the Chaudiere large scale sawmilling began) engineers were complaining that transportation through the locks of the Rideau canal were being choked by this stuff.
        • There was at least four engineering reports in fifteen years about this sawdust and mill waster pollution but the mill owners continued to be able to persuade the government to look the other way and it continued until the early 1900's.
        • The mills owners even hired Sir Sanford Fleming (chief engineer in CPR location and building to whitewash this in a engineering report
          • However, there is evidence of that a lot of this stuff still exists such as the 1960's report by geotechnical engineers engaged in planning the MacDonald Cartier inter provincial bridge where they reported that this water logged bore holes where sawdust exceeded 10' in places (and this is a narrow part of the river not all the far down from the Chaudaire rapids.) It is logical to assumer and a great deal of this sawdust is still at the bottom of the rivers in bays and deep spots.
          • While diving as a young man i encountered untold amounts of this wood waste (bark chips and sawdust) in many lakes and rivers.
          • by digging a few inches down into this stuff. When brought to the surface it seemed to be as good now as when sawn 60 to 100+ years ago, even smelling like new sawn wood when dried.
        • I am sure that much of this pollution (in the form of sunken bark, sawdust, waste wood, etc.) still exists today on Ottawa River (it's lake bottoms particularly in bays and at the bottom of rapids/falls, and where mills existed.
        • I actually witnessed this for at least 10-15 years before and just after CIP quit the mill at Temiscaming - this resulted in a constant bubbling up of methane and in the warm water periods July/August great rafts of fibrous gray green guck (buoyed up by that methane)floated up from the bottom.

          At times this choked the river up for, at least, 10 kilometres downstream from the mill site completely blocking navigation down as far as the Beauchene.

          If a boater wasn't paying attention and ran their boat up onto one of these mats it was one hell of a job to get your boat off again. There were times when boats had to be towed off of this excrement!

      It may be that this pollution (i.e. these drowned waste wood products) could be put to good use as a source for pulp fibre, fuel and other bio mass products.

      I am hoping that this stuff should be easy to vacuum up into a scow sometime in the future if and when the Ottawa River is cleaned up because all waters are considered crown land.

      It is my hope that this delayed cleansing may make this clean up of our lakes and water ways economically feasible.


    Thanking you for your kind attention, I am

    Roy Summers
    705 474-4795
    rwsummers@cogeco.ca