Up and Down the Shantymen used to Roam



May 1 1891

—A shantyman named Telesphore Larocque, in the employ of James McLaren & Co., was driving logs on St. Denis Creek when he fell through and lost his life in the treacherous waters. This is the third fatal accident which has occurred in the same place within the past twelve months. 1898

Up and down the long stretch of road in spring and fall the shantymen used to roam. In the days when it came time to hire for the woods gangs of men would spend days in the village enjoying a rollicking time. Those were the days of sights and they continued each succeeding spring and fall until within the last 15 years when the lumber business had waned and almost passed away. These were lively scenes in the early shanty days. In the business of lumbering numerous horses are used not only in the woods operations but also in “cadging” the provisions long distances from the storehouses to the camps

Every person acquainted with the life and disposition of a “shantyman” knows that in his merry moments, when through with the season’s operations in bush or on “drive” he is wont to engage in diversion of an innocent nature. And also in the long winter evenings when the work of the day is done and the “lads” have all returned from the woods and are seated around the camboose. It has been an arduous day perhaps out in the “works”; from before dawn till twilight’s close the men have been faithfully attending to all the parts of making logs or timber, chopping, scoring, hewing, skidding, hauling, with a brief midday meal of bread and pork at the base of some tall monarch of the woods, then thankfully coming to camp at night the lads file in, take their turn at the wash basin and then red cheeked and hungry they get down to a good substantial meal of meat and bread and tea. The appetite of a shantyman is great and swift. He eats a lot and it doesn’t take him long. So when the meal is over there are axes to grind, peavies to tighten up, axe handles to make and everything to get ready for the morrow’s operations. After this is all carefully attended to the jubilant spirits of the “shantymen” find expression in songs and sports. LCGS-HISTORY OF LANARK VILLAGE COVERS AN 85 YEAR PERIOD





Photo- Lanark & District Museum


Joyce MacKenȝie —- A 2nd generation settler relative…Peter Leo McKenzie set out from Carleton Place to the Northwest in 1887 and worked in the logging industry. His goal was to make enough money to put himself through medical school. He did succeed. Graduated from the University of Chicago Medical School and practised medicine in Portland, Oregon until his death in 1922.

Perth Courier, November 4, 1881


Almonte:  Another old settler has gone to his rest.  Andrew McKenzie died of congestion of the lungs at his residence at Almonte on the 17th Oct. at the age of 72 years.  Mr. McKenzie was for over 20 years a colporteur (?) in the service of the Ottawa Valley Branch Bible Society.  In the winter time he visited the shanties in the Ohio Valley selling Bibles to the shantymen and speaking to them of Him who came to seek and save the lost. Dreary and long were the journeys he often took and many were the hardships he endured and the dangers he faced as he passed from shanty to shanty.  But his work is done and we doubt not that he has received his Maker’s approval “Well done, good and faithful servant”.  “Blessed are they who die in the Lord from henceforth; yes, saith the Lord, that they may rest from their labors and their works follow them


George Briscoe of Beckwith Township was Bill Cameron’s shanty man.  Through good management, the business held on all through the 30s.  With the 40s came a new interest in the lime business, and prosperity.  In 1944, Bill Cameron was ready to call it quits and he sold the Lime Kiln to another enterprising young businessman, Stuart Neilson.

1881–The Brockville recorder gets off the following: One of our back country exchanges announces the recent construction of a new car on the Canada Pacific for the exclusive use of shantymen, and says it is large and high. There ought to be a bar in both ends and the rest left for a battleground

In the autumn of 1844 Peter McLaren left his father’s Lanark Township farm to join a Gillies Lumber Company shanty crew on the Clyde River. In taking a winter’s employment with the felling axe, he was, in many ways, like other young men of his time and place; but Mclaren had just turned 14 years of age and, within just a decade, would become one of the richest and most powerful lumber barons in Canada–Read-MISSISSIPPI LUMBER BARON Peter McLaren (1831-1919) Ron Shaw– click here


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun


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.

One response »

  1. Pingback: On Genealogy:  Great Scott! My SCOTTISH Roots, Descendants of Andrew McKenzie – mybetterlifeca

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