Tales of the Rivermen

Tales of the Rivermen



Lumberjacks were not by any means saintly characters. The history of the lumber camps is full of incidents of fatal fights and of excesses of various sorts. Shanty-men, while a decent lot as a whole, were “mostly of the adventurous type”, wild and woolly and ready for anything that promised a bit of excitement.


Under the influence of strong drink they often annoyed settlers and at times brought discredit to bear upon their following. In this connection, Mr. Thomas McMullen, of Ashland, Wis., wrote as follows:

“In those days: sometimes things went on that I would be almost ashamed to tell you about.” He then proceeded to relate a story which was an excellent case in point.

An elderly Frenchman, about 65 years of age–announced he was going to marry a very young girl. It so happened that on the day the wedding was to take place that a gang of river drivers heard of the proposed marriage. It was unanimously decided that any old man who would attempt to marry so young a girl ought to be punished. It was arranged that one of the gang would go down to the church and if the wedding was not over he would ring the church bell and the balance of the gang would go to the church.

When the emissary arrived at the church the wedding was going on. He vigorously rang the bell to the astonishment of the priest and congregation. The ceremony was stopped while the congregation went out to see why the bell was ringing so furiously. The emissary might have had a hard time at the hands of a couple of dozen husky settlers, but while the farmers and villagers were getting ready to throw him out, some half hundred burly rivermen came on the run ready for anything.

Outnumbering the farmers two to one they took charge of affairs. They found the groom, cut a rail in the bush nearby and rode him on it along the main, road till they tired of the sport. “And let me tell you,” Mr, McMullen wrote, “It wasn’t a comfortable rail either. It had a lot of sharp spikes in it.”

The writer did not know whether the wedding ceremony was finished afterwards or not. At the time the crowd arrived at the church the pair had not been pronounced man and wife.

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place and The Tales of Almonte

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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