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Sheet Harbour in Halifax Region, Nova Scotia — The Atlantic Provinces (North America)
 

Lumbering & Sawmills

— Sheet Harbour —

 
 
Lumbering & Sawmills Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, July 23, 2019
1. Lumbering & Sawmills Marker
Inscription.  Situated on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia, Sheet Harbour lies at the junction of the East and West Rivers. This forested area, with its excellent river systems and natural port, proved ideal for the establishment of a prosperous lumber industry.

Built on the West River in 1783 by Thomas Lydiard, Sheet Harbor’s first sawmill was nearly completed upon the 1784 arrival of Loyalist settlers. The lumber industry began to prosper in the 1820s, as demand for lumber for homes, fuel, and as an export material grew.

Cutting began in the fall and stretched into early winter. Broad axes and later, crosscut saws were used to fell trees. By the 1880s, portable steam-powered sawmills made the work much faster. Lumber camps often served as temporary shelter for weeks, or even months, if work was far from home.

When cutting was done, horse-drawn sleighs transported logs to the banks of streams or frozen lakes, from where they would be driven downstream the following spring. Driving companies of around 60 men were hired to navigate logs down river to the mill. With the use of pikes, peaveys, and spiked boots, the men
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guided logs over rapids, pulled logs out of jams, and off riverbanks. The work could be dangerous, as the risk of falling into log-filled, icy waters was great.

Upon arrival at the sawmill, logs were squared into boards on the head saw, then trimmed and cut into standard lengths, before being measured, marked, and stacked.

Throughout the nineteenth century, the West River was dotted with sawmills built by James Fraser, John Hall, Johnathan Archibald, Daniel Wright, George Starr, and others. Waterwheels usually powered these sawmills. Propelled by water flowing through the wheel, a main shaft connected to a series of cranks and belts provided power to the mill’s saws and machinery. In early years, single saws had done much of the work; however, by the 1860s, the efficient gang saw cut a greater number of boards in less time.

In the 1870s, Sheet Harbour was home to one of the largest mills in the province, the Cascade Mill of William Chisholm and Company. By 1871, this East River mill employed eighty men and ten boys, while two gang saws cut 5 000 000 feet of spruce and pine, to be loaded onto British and Norwegian ships for export.

The early twentieth century saw the establishment of other important sawmills such as the Behie and Hall Lumber Company in the 1920s, and the East River sawmill of J. Lewis & Sons, established in 1934.

Although
Marker detail: <i>The Lumberjacks</i> image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Donald MacKay, Toronto, 1978
2. Marker detail: The Lumberjacks
many of its saw mills are now gone, Sheet Harbor is still an active logging area. Up to 70% of its softwood harvest travel to sawmills throughout the Musquodoboit Valley, while the remainder is used for wood chips by the Kimberly Clarke pulp mill in Abercrombie, Pictou Co. Hardwood is often sold to local contractors as fuel wood.

(photo captions)
• Lumbermen at Work in the Forest (background image)
[Charles P. de Volpi Collection, Special Collections, Dalhousie University Libraries]
• Donald MacKay, The Lumberjacks, Toronto, 1978
• Havelock Mc C. Hart Mill on West River, c. 1880
[Notman Collection, Nova Scotia Museum]
• East River, Houses at water’s edge
[History Collection, Nova Scotia Museum]
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Horticulture & ForestryIndustry & CommerceSettlements & SettlersWaterways & Vessels.
 
Location. 44° 55.634′ N, 62° 32.63′ W. Marker is in Sheet Harbour, Nova Scotia, in Halifax Region. Marker can be reached from Marine Drive (Nova Scotia Trunk Highway 7), 0.3 kilometers east of Highway 224, on the right when traveling east. Marker is located on the grounds of the MacPhee House Museum & Visitor Centre,
Marker detail: Unloading logs by the Lewis Lumber Co.,<br>(c. 1910) image. Click for full size.
Owen Barr Collection, Nova Scotia Archives & Records Management
3. Marker detail: Unloading logs by the Lewis Lumber Co.,
(c. 1910)
near the west side of the parking lot. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 22404 Nova Scotia Trunk Highway 7, Sheet Harbour NS B0J 3B0, Canada. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 19 kilometers of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Pulp & Paper Industry (a few steps from this marker); The Community (a few steps from this marker); Sheet Harbour (a few steps from this marker); Salmon (within shouting distance of this marker); Shipbuilding & Shipping (approx. 1.5 kilometers away); Hydroelectric Power (approx. 1.6 kilometers away); Early Settlement (approx. 1.6 kilometers away); Prince Alfred Arch / L'Arche Prince Alfred (approx. 18.3 kilometers away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sheet Harbour.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Sheet Harbour, Nova Scotia
 
Marker detail: Employees of Rhodes & Curry Sawmill,<br>(c. 1905) image. Click for full size.
History Collection, Nova Scotia Museum
4. Marker detail: Employees of Rhodes & Curry Sawmill,
(c. 1905)
Marker detail: Sheet Harbour Sawmills image. Click for full size.
5. Marker detail: Sheet Harbour Sawmills
Lewis Lumber Company Sawmill, East River, c. 1945
[Courtesy Richard Walsh Collection]

I.J. Behie’s Sawmill, c. 1925
[Nova Scotia Archives & Records Management]

Cascade Mill of William Chisholm & Co., East River, c. 1897
[History Collection, Nova Scotia Museum]
Marker detail: Albany Perforated Wrapper Pulp & Paper Company image. Click for full size.
Public Works Album, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
6. Marker detail: Albany Perforated Wrapper Pulp & Paper Company
Marker detail: Portable Sawmill, c. 1890 image. Click for full size.
Courtesy Richard Walsh Collection
7. Marker detail: Portable Sawmill, c. 1890
Lumbering & Sawmills Marker (<i>wide view</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, July 23, 2019
8. Lumbering & Sawmills Marker (wide view)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on March 6, 2020. It was originally submitted on March 3, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 691 times since then and 117 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on March 3, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on March 6, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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May. 28, 2024