Istill recall the smell of the gas-and-oil mix and the growl of the chainsaw echoing through the forests behind our family farm.
In the early eighties, we heated our home with a wood stove, and my brother and I spent many a winter’s day tromping through the snow with my dad, cutting, hauling, and stacking logs to be used for next year’s fuel.
My safety gear consisted of a hunter’s orange toque, soggy hand- knitted mittens, and rubber boots with liners to keep my feet from freezing. Often we’d work until dark, noting the passage of time by the lengthening shadows cast by the trees as the sun travelled overhead.
Beyond that, forestry provided a living for several of my ancestors. My paternal great-uncle Jimmy owned a sawmill. His brother Peter — my grandpa — on occasion hauled logs during his time as a trucker.
My mother’s father, Gordon Benjamin, worked as a lumberjack in logging camps at Folly Mountain, Nova Scotia, and in the forests of New Brunswick. He died in 1977, when I was just six years old, so I never got to ask him what it was like to live the lumberjack’s life. Because of that, making this issue of Canada’s History has been a revelation for me.
Our cover story, “Timber!” tells of the men (and, increasingly, women) who have made their livings working in the woods.
From the earliest days of axes and crosscut saws to today’s modern harvesting machines, the lumberjacks’ story is compelling — and quintessentially Canadian.
Elsewhere in this issue, we explore the aftermath of the 1885 Northwest Resistance, particularly how First Nations on both sides of the conflict were treated — and mistreated — by the Canadian government. For some Indigenous peoples, the repercussions of resisting the influx of settlers into the West were felt for decades afterwards.
Finally, we have a pair of businessrelated stories — a tale of the bicentennial of Canada’s first bank and a look at ten business titans who had a major impact on Canada’s history.
While business history doesn’t get many headlines, the achievements of our entrepreneurs are deeply intertwined with the growth of Canada.