You Don’t Waltz With Timber on a Windy Day




Lanark Loggers—I took a picture of this photo at an auction sale. I realized the price would be higher than I could afford- but it needed to be circulated. (Note the dog standing up on top of the log):)

There is no doubt that I have what one might say quite “an unhealthy” fascination with loggers sometimes. If the McLaren-Caldwell fight was going on now you might find me writing about their gang fights at the local Lanark taverns. These loggers were fighting champions, where fiddlers sang of their deeds, and some were buried by the rapids where they died.

Perth Courier, June 4, 1869

We regret very much to learn that a sad accident occurred on the River Clyde about two miles from Middleville at Taylor’s Saw Mill whereby a promising young man lost his life. Waddell McFarlane, 21, son of Mr. McFarlane, postmaster of Rosetta, was driving saw logs over the dam at Taylor’s where a jam occurred. Young McFarlane, in his efforts to release the logs, boldly stepped on the logs immediately at the head of the chute when the one on which he was standing became loose and was carried over the dam; McFarlane was carried along with it and when he arrived at the foot, the log struck him and before assistance could be rendered, he sank to rise no more.

This occurred on Thursday afternoon about 3:00. An immediate search was made for the body which was continued all night until next morning when about 7:00 the lifeless remains were found a short distance from the scene of the accident. We learn that the funeral took place on Sunday last and was attended by a large concourse of people. Young McFarlane was held in universal esteem by all who were acquainted with him and his loss in universally lamented. He was buried next to the river where he died.



Photo from the Perth Courier

 Perth Courier–1883

Hardship—Messrs Boyd Caldwell and Sons, Lanark, have 800,000 logs lying on the Upper Mississippi River and tributaries. They cannot get them down to the mill at Carleton Place on account of the decision in the McLaren versus Caldwell case and the mill is at present idle for want of stuff to cut.


Perth Courier–1908

Mississippi lumbering continued on a reduced scale. A Lanark Era spring report said: – The Nichols drive on the Clyde parted company here with Charlie Hollinger’s logs at the Caldwell booms, and swept its way over the dam to await the coming of the Mississippi sawlogs. The gang folded their tents and rolled away up to Dalhousie Lake where the rear of the drive floats. It will take about two weeks to wash the mouth of the Clyde, and then the whole bunch will nose away over the Red Rock and on to Carleton Place. While going through Lanark some of the expert drivers did a few stunts for Lanark sightseers. Joe Griffiths ran the rapids on a cedar pole just big enough to make a streak on the water. The Hollinger logs were retained at the Caldwell mill, where they are now being rapidly manufactured into lumber.

If you ask any girl from the parish around,

What pleases her most from her head to her toes;
She’ll say, “I’m not sure that it’s business of yours,

But I do like to waltz with a log driver.


Read the Perth Courier here at Archives Lanark

Related reading

Sandy Caldwell King of the River Boys

Your Mississippi River, Ontario Fact of the Day

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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