Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Aberdeen Pavilion

The historic and recently restored Aberdeen Pavilion is host to "When Lumber was King" during the 2005 edition of the Central Canada's Exhibition's 'SuperEx'. With assistance from sponsors such as Logs End Inc. and the New Ontario Trilium Foundation and volunteers from the Rideau Township Historical Society, the CCE is helping the city celebrate its 150th anniversary with a tribute to the 19th century lumbermen of Bytown and Ottawa.

The 'Pure Country' Pavilion

For the duration of the SuperEx, the Aberdeen Pavilion is transformed into 'pure country' featuring agricultural displays, country music, home crafts, horse displays, horseback and wagon rides. One of its centrepiece displays is a tribute to Ottawa's lumber trade of a century and a half ago: "When Lumber was King".

"When Lumber was King"

The theme was chosen to coincide with Ottawa's 150th birthday celebration. With the transition from Bytown to Ottawa, the city went from a brawling, bustling frontier town to an economic centre with the largest concentration of saw milling operations in the world. Many of the city's inhabitants in 2005 are descended from the workers and families who were associated with the lumber trade in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The New Ontario Trillium Foundation

"When Lumber was King" was made possible by a generous grant from The New Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Logs End Inc.

Logs End is a thriving and innovative flooring business based on the reclamation of old growth timber logs from the Ottawa River. The company provided much of the raw materials used for the display, along with many of the historical timber artifacts and tools. Rarely has a sponsorship been more appropriate: Logs End's business is based on the century-old raw materials featured in "When Lumber is King".

Coral Lindsay

Visitors to "When Lumber is King" are greeted by Coral Lindsay, noted local historian and heritage interpreter. Mrs. Lindsay, a co-founder of the Rideau Valley Historical Society more than twenty years ago, provided much of the content, imagery, artifacts -- and inspiration -- for the display.

Lumber Camp

The 'Pure Country' Aberdeen Pavilion's "When Lumber was King" recreates the feeling of a turn-of-the-century lumber camp and of the hardy men who owned and worked them.

Lumber Baron Display

The centrepiece of the "When Lumber was King" display is the rough-hewn shed with portraits and biographies of the original timber barons, along with historic artifacts, tools and photographs. The photos are drawn from the National Archives of Canada, the City of Ottawa Archives and its Rideau Township branch.

Log Shanty

A key feature of the display is a wooden replica shanty of the type which housed timber workers in the forests of the Ottawa Valley.

Horse Statues and Reclamated Logs

Two huge horse statues grace the lumberman's display and simulate the teams that pulled felled logs from the bush to the river's edge. The display logs, courtesy of Logs End, are actual timbers reclaimed from the bottom of the Ottawa River.

Log Seats

Logs End also provided sawn logs for seating at the lumber man's display from which a video presentation on the lumber barons can be viewed.

Lumber King's Shed

The Lumberman's Display features a rough-hewn shed with nooks containing portraits and biographies of Bytown and Ottawa's lumber barons. It also features a collection of rare artifacts and lumbering tools. The outside corners of the display have easels with additional portraits and stories of the timber barons.

Booth Display

J. R. Booth was a giant among Ottawa timber barons and an immutable force among Canadian lumbermen. His stately residence on Metcalfe Street -- with some of the finest, intricate handcut woodcarving in Eastern Canada -- was the home of the Laurentian Club for many years. Booth Street was named in his honour and marked the location of many of his lumberyards.

J. R. Booth

John Rudolphus Booth was born in Lower Canada, became a carpenter and moved to Bytown in 1854. He and his wife operated a single splitter and sold them roadside by night. In 1858 he obtained the contract to supply the wood for the Parliament Buildings. By 1900 he employed 1500 men in his sawmills. He evenutally built and operated three railways, managed a fleet of steamboats, and held the largest volume of timber rights in the British Empire.

Bronson Display

Henry Franklin Bronson was an American who emigrated to Canada and became a major industrialist and philanthropist in Ottawa. Bronson Avenue is named in his honour.

Henry Franklin Bronson

H. F. Bronson was born in New York, moved to Canada in 1852, and was among the first of the timber barons to ship to the U.S. market. By 1871, his mills we producing 70,000,000 board feet of lumber. His stately residence and chaudiere mills were destroyed in the Great Fire of 1900.

MacKay Display

Thomas MacKay was a respected industrialist, architect, politican, and militia officer whose relentless initiative was responsible for much of the economic growth of early Bytown.

Thomas MacKay

Thomas MacKay moved from Scotland to Montreal and onto Bytown in 1817. Ten years later he received the contract to build the Rideau Canal's Ottawa, Hartwells, Hogs Back and Jones Falls lockstations. He build his first sawmill at Rideau Falls upon completion of the Canal in 1832 and soon added a flour mill, bakery, cloth factory and distillery. He built a second mill which manufactured shingles and more finished products such as doors, windows and sashes. The streets of New Edinburg bear the names of his wife and children and his home, Rideau Hall, is now the official residence of the Governor General of Canada.

Gilmour Display

Allan Gilmour, a Scotsman, became a Bytown timber merchant, lumber manufacturer, sportsman, militia officer, and an art connoisseur.

Allan Gilmour

Allan Gilmour moved his company headquarters to Bytown in 1853 and established what was to become one of Canada's largest timber operations. He was a major in the militia during the Fenian troubles and the first president of the Ottawa Curling Club. At the time of his death 110 years ago, his estate was valued at $1,000,000.

Hurdman Display

Charles Hurdman of Ireland and his wife (of the Cameron Scottish peerage) joined Philmon Wright to pioneer the Hull settlement.

Charles Hurdman

Charles Hurdman's descendants became lumber barons and founders of the Hurdman Bridge settlement. They operated lumber and livestock on a large scale in Gloucester. The first Hurdmans bridge was built by the family in 1865 to connect their lumber facilities on both sides of the Rideau River.

Logging Artifacts and Tools

Logs End, Coral Lindsay, Jack Graham, and Wayne Roy each contributed to this showcase of logging tools and artifacts from their private collections.

Logging Hooks

Few lumbering tools required more dexterity than the heavy hooks raftsmen used to corral logs in the bush and on the river.

Hurdman 'H'

Logs were often floated together from different camps and separate owners, only to be sorted further downriver according to their stamps . J. R. Booth's logs were branded with his famous 'Diamond B' while Hurdman's 'H' (above) identified his logs.

E. B. Eddy, 1827 - 1906

Erza Butler Eddy was born in Vermont, began his match manufacturing there and continued it with his move to the Canadas in 1854. He and his family were philathropists of note supporting hospitals, orphanages and convalescent homes. So vast were his lumbering operations on both sides of the Ottawa River that his mills' output reached 70,000,000 board feet. By the time he entered the paper-making business in 1890, his was considered a titan of the Canadian forestry industry.

W. C. Edwards, c1840 -1921

William Cameron Edwards descended from a Scottish pioneer who emigrated to Canada in 1819. His rise was legendary having started with "two axes and three spades" (and some additional help) to build the foundation of his first mill in Rockland. His company produced 3,000,000 feet of lumber during its first year of operation in 1868. He acquired '24 Sussex Drive' from J. M. Currier in 1902, only to have it expropriated from his family by the Federal Government after his death. A parliamentarian and senator, his family continued in the lumber business as D. Kemp Edwards until the latter part of the 20th century.

Joseph Currier, 1820 -1884

Joseph Merrill Currier was a Vermonter of French Canadian descent who holds a lasting place in Canadiana to this day. He amassed a tremendous fortune through his partnerships with Moss Dickinson, the founder of Manotick, and Wright and Batson, the former a descendant of Philomen Wright the founder of Hull. As a parliamentarian, he built a stately stone home on the cliffs of the Rideau which is now the official residence of sitting Canadian Prime Ministers, 24 Sussex Drive. He never truly recovered from the tragic, accidental death of his young bride in his Manotick grist mill (now Watson's Mill).

James Skead, 1817 - 1884

Senator James Skead

J. R. Booth's Mills

The power of the J. R. Booth lumber empire is tangible in this 1915 photo of his Ottawa mills.

MacKay's Mills

Thomas MacKay business undertakings included property development, lumbering and milling. His mills by the Rideau Falls are shown here in this early 1840 photograph.

Timber Raft on the Ottawa in 1903.

Huge timber rafts and booms many miles long were fixtures on the Ottawa River for more than 100 years.

'Locking' through the Rideau Locks

The Rideau Canal and Rideau River corridor saw timber harvesting on a very small scale compared to the Ottawa system. It's primary purpose was as the transportation channel to Kingston and the Upper St. Lawrence settlements and ports.

Rideau Falls

This undated photo shows lumber mills operating on the cusp of the Rideau Falls.

Steamboat 'Maude'

The sidewheeler 'Maude' is shown towing a log boom worth an estimated $50,000 in 19th century currency.

Log Shanty

The "When Lumber was King" log shanty is representative of the accommodation lumber jacks used in the Ottawa Valley from the early 1800s to the 1900s.

Tools of Relaxation

The shanty's north wall shows a cot and chair of the kind used by workers during their rare moments of relaxation during good weather.

Shanty Kitchen

The log shanty's kitchen setting shows many of the items needed for small meals and snacks while working in the bush.

Workers' Bunks

Lumber jacks' bunks were spartan, small and stacked vertically. Top bunks were sought after in winter and avoided during the summer.

Wood Stove

Shanties were sometimes equipped with wood stoves which served double-duty for cooking and heating.

Log Camp Cookery

Modern day campers no doubt relate to this 100-year old photo of camp workers eagerly consuming their rations.

Alyen Lake in 1880

J. R. Booth's Alyen Lake lumber camp housed hundreds of rugged workers, shown here posing in front of an uncommonly large log shanty.

Life on a Booth Boom Raft in 1880

Some summers, camp workers could spend most of their waking lives on or near a boom raft. There they would often work, cook, eat, and sleep while floating down the Ottawa River.

Pike Poles

This photo (c1900) shows lumber jacks gingerly maneuvring logs into position using pike poles.

The Shanty's Animated Computer Presentation

Alongside the Shanty, a state-of-the-art computer presentation associates modern Ottawa street names with their lumber baron namesakes. The presentation was created by Mark Jodoin, Vice President of the Rideau Township Historical Society, who also created this blog site.