Cut­ting-edge his­tory

Canada's History - - EDITOR’S NOTE -

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.

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