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In Victoria Harbour, lumber barons were kings (5 photos)

At the turn of the last century, the whole town was devoted to lumber and shipping wood to southern markets

How can we grasp the feeling of a lumber town with its particular sights, smells and sounds?

Perhaps some of these feelings are brought home to me as I grew up with a sawmill and a railroad at the centre of town. The smell of either sawdust, cut wood or burning slash was always present.

It might be more than a little like that in Victoria Harbour, when John Waldie and others, ran the lumber business on Georgian Bay. The whole town was devoted to lumber and shipping wood to southern markets.

Yes, it was a company town, Incorporated in 1911 and likely no different than many small towns in Ontario at the turn of the century.

Mary Haskill, in Nosing Into the Past, published in 2002, has many salient details about Waldie, Beck, Chew and Playfair and lumbering for those interested. There is a detailed book on Waldie and the Victoria Harbour Lumber (VHL) Company as well if you need to dig further.

Trying to capture a feeling isn’t easy, as it is sometimes only a sense or mood, like looking at a sepia-toned photo and feeling encompassed by the scene. Three tugs — Superior, Reginald and Charlton — were owned by the VHL Co. The little yard engine's name was Rosalie. Have we an image or two? Certainly.

Each shipment of boards had an emblem of a native in a canoe printed on the boxcars with the ad, “We Paddle Our Own Canoe." Such was lumbering in 
Victoria Harbour at the turn of the last century.