By Donald MacKay

Short-listed for the 1978 Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction

The nineteenth century spawned a distinct breed of guys who took satisfaction of their woodsmen abilities and tough codes of behavior. They referred to as themselves lumberers, shantymen, trees beasts, les bucherons – and, extra lately, lumberjacks, operating within the great forests of jap Canada and British Columbia.

around the kingdom, farm boys might visit the woods, lumbering being the single wintry weather paintings to be had. Immigrants – Swedes and Finns usually – resumed the trades they'd realized so good within the forests of northern Europe. They broke the chilly, difficult monotony of camp lifestyles with songs, tall stories and card video games.

inside those pages, writer Donald MacKay permits us a glimpse into that second in our historical past while males entered the virgin woodland to carve out an from the likely never-ending array of pine, spruce, maple and balsam fir came upon there.

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These story-tellers had an entire repertoire of their heads. GEORGES COTE, CHICOUTIMI, QUEBEC a favorite of the Quebec bûcheron, who was once frequently caught in camp on le jour de l’an, New Year’s Day, used to be l. a. Chasse Galère. It instructed of the way the satan may come searching souls on New Year’s Eve in his sizeable black boat. He would provide to move the lads to their houses 1000's of miles away in time to rejoice the vacation. In go back they need to forfeit their souls to the Prince of Darkness. The homesick males have been prepared. They clambered into the boat and with the satan prime have been quickly paddling difficult, the boat hiking excessive above the tree-tops. They sped during the sky on a southeast direction till, at sunrise, the satan deposited every one guy at his domestic at the St. Lawrence, at Trois-Pistoles, maybe, or St. Simeon. New Year’s Day was once theirs to go to households and girl-friends yet in the dark the joys was once over and the satan picked them up and headed his boat again to camp. yet, fortunately, the bûcherons consistently controlled to outwit the satan. because the boat flew over a few lonely hour of darkness city at the St. Maurice River or the Ottawa a lumberjack could all at once lean out of the boat and contact the go at the church steeple as they sped previous. the moment he did so the evil spell was once damaged. The satan and his boat disappeared in a flash of blue flame and the lads tumbled into the delicate snow drifts, free of their hellish cut price. there's a culture that the tale originated generations in the past in France whilst a “Monsieur Galère” insisted on going looking of a Sunday rather than going to church and used to be consigned to the Devil’s black boat for eternity for his sins. los angeles Chasse Galère With the satan, in ghostly shape underneath the bow of the canoe, Quebec bûcherons fly to their houses on New Year’s Eve. A 1916 portray through Henri Julien, Montreal. the general public data of Canada C 17928 sixteen SATURDAY evening AND SUNDAY at nighttime, tangled woodland the place lumberjacks sing, And their saws and their axes, the tune will ring Oh the nights they're weary and the times they're lengthy, yet my comrades they cheer me with song and music. THE MAID FROM TIDEHEAD, FROM THE BAY OF CHALEUR, NEW BRUNSWICK Their song was once mess around, accordion, mouth organ, and Jew’s harp. Crusty outdated foremen have been identified to rent a superb singer or fiddler no matter if he used to be now not a lot of a logger. “We had extra leisure within the pine camps than you’d have on the town simply because we had all types of guy within the kingdom there. mess around and dance, sq. dance, step dance, the various maximum musicians you’d ever pay attention inform of. ”1 the boys often had Sunday off so once they got here again to camp at dusk on Saturday there has been horseplay and laughter and maybe anything precise for supper. within the pine camps they'd mild their pipes and take a seat round on bunks or benches in stocking toes or “stags” that have been cut-down previous boots they used for slippers. a few camps may perhaps actually have a self-appointed “deacon,” or grasp of ceremonies, for the songs, video games, and recitations. the simplest enjoyable was once the stag dance, the “buck set” the place they'd “tamarack her down at the outdated pine ground.

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