Bill Beatty. Woodlands Operation. Public Affairs Manager.

Mr. Bill Beatty worked for the Woodlands Department from 1953 to 1979. He was then transferred to the Mill Department as Manager of Public affairs. He retired in 1990.

Bill Beatty graduated from the Faculty of Forestry at the University of Toronto in 1952. After graduation, he found employment with a mining and timber contractor in Timmins, Ontario. During holidays, Bill returned home to Keewatin. While he was visiting a previous employer, Bill learned that the Dryden Paper Co. had been acquired by Anglo-Canadian Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd. and had procured a large expansion of timber rights. Bill was advised to get in contact with a man by the name of Norm McMillan who was the Woodlands Manager of the Dryden Paper Company at the time. Bill phoned Norm McMillan, who subsequently invited him to come to Dryden for an interview.

After the interview with Mr. McMillan, Bill returned to Keewatin and travelled to Timmins to resume his employment there. When he arrived in Timmins, he found a letter from the Dryden Paper Company offering him employment as camp clerk at the Sunstrom logging camp. The pay was $325 a month, which was considered to be good money at the time.

Bill was hired as the Sunstrom camp clerk at the lumber camps main office. His duties involved measuring all of the wood cut, recording sawmill production and recording the shipment of lumber by boxcar to Winnipeg. He was also responsible for doing the payroll at the camp and taking care of the Van. The Van was a small store located in the camps main office. The store was open right after the evening meal to service the needs of the bush and sawmill workers. The loggers would get blades for their swede saws, axes, work clothes and tobacco. On Mr. Beatty's first day at work, Brian Barber showed him around the camp, which included a large bunkhouse, a sawmill, planer, garage, blacksmith shop, a twelve horse barn, storage sheds and a cookery with a large dining hall.

Logging Operations in 1953 at the Sunstrom Lumber Camp

There were no chain saws and all the cutting of pulp wood, as mentioned, was done using a swede saw. There were two methods of cutting wood. The first method, called cut and pile, required the logger to work on a strip of bush laid out by the camp foreman. The logger would cut the trees into eight foot lengths and then pile the wood into one cord piles. On average, a logger would cut two to three cords per day.

The second method, called cut and skid involved a horse working with two loggers. They cut the trees down, removed all the limbs and then used the horse to haul (skid) the trees to a landing where the tree was cut into 8 foot lengths and piled. These piles often consisted of several cords of wood.

The wood was loaded onto trucks with a front-end loader or dragline. A dragline is a cable crane with a clam. The clam would literally grab a wood pile and load it on to a truck for shipment Dryden. Saw logs were hauled to the saw mill for processing.

By its nature, logging is a dangerous job. At times, when the logger cut a tree, it did not fall to the ground. Rather, it hung up in another standing tree. The cut tree was precarious because it could fall over at any time. Large branches always represented a hazard to the worker because a large branch from a falling tree could hit the logger.

Mr. Beatty recalls an operation, before mechanical loaders, called hand bombing. This was a process where a man with a pulp hook would grab a four foot long log and throw it up to a man standing on a truck. He would catch the log in mid air with his pulp hook and pile the wood onto the truck. Tremendous strength was required by the loggers.

Here is a logger demonstrating his pulp hook

Changes that occurred in the logging operations

During the early 1950s there was no safety training before one started working in the bush and cutting pulp wood. A safety coordinator was hired and he visited all the camps and promoted safety procedures. As time progressed, and as safety films became available, there were more and more safety protocols explained to the loggers. The wearing of hard hats became mandatory in 1955-56.

1959 saw the introduction of the first skidders called the Timberland 300s. (The process of skidding a tree is to bring the tree from the location where it is felled to a site where it is cut and piled for shipment to the saw mill or paper mill).

The first articulated skidder was brought into operation in the late 1950s. An articulated skidder is a machine whose frame is hinged in the centre and this enabled the machine to be much more maneuverable in the bush. Called the Garrett Tree Farmer, this skidder was developed by Dwight Garrett in Washington State. Modifications to the machine, as suggested by employees of the Dryden Paper Company, included the addition of piling forks on the front of the machine which enabled it carry cut logs. Further improvements, such aslarger engines and larger tires, made the machine more adaptable and versatile to the bush country of Northwestern Ontario. Production of the machine in large numbers was contracted to the Canada Car Company located in Fort William and distributed by W.H. Marr Ltd.

The introduction of the power chain saw in the early 1960s brought about a tremendous increase in productivity to the logger. But the early chain saw had to be used carefully as severe cuts were common. The introduction of safety pants and safety gloves soon followed. Improvements to chain saws such as the use of safety chains and safety brakes were developed through the years.

With these improvements, and acceptance of mechanical skidders, the horse operations were reduced and the last of the horses were shipped out in boxcars at the Dryden CPR yards in the spring of 1964.

Further enhancements to tree harvesting came about in 1969 with the introduction of a short wood harvester by Koehring Waterous Ltd. This machine, run by a single operator, would reach out and cut a tree down, then swing it around to put into a processor. The processor would remove the limbs and cut the tree into 8 foot lengths. This machine was developed with recommendations made by employees of the Dryden Paper Company.

Terminology for those people not familiar with logging

Rough lumber is put through a planer which smoothes the lumber. Lumber smoothed by a planar is called dressed lumber.

Click here to see a publicity picture of Woodlands operations

To hew a log is to cut two sides of the log so that they were flat. These were used as railway ties.

These pictures were provided by Charlie Rankin. The pictures date to 1959. The introduction of the first mechanical skidders occurred during that year.

A Timberland 300. This was the original model used by the WoodLands Division of the Dryden Paper Company. Further developments included a second winch for increased loads. The man in the far left is Bill Beatty (North Division Logging Superintendent

Another picture of the Timberland 300. The tall man on the right is Ken Nielson, Woodlands Manager

The group in this photo were employees of several woodlands operations of companies in Northwestern Ontario who were attending a field meeting of the Canadian Pulp and Paper Assocation, Woodlands section. The meeting was hosted by the Dryden Paper Company.The Anderson Woodhawk is the machine carrying the pulp wood. It was pulled by a tractor and was used to pick up one cord piles of pulpwood and forward it out to the main road for loading and hauling to the mill..

A Garrett Tree Farmer.

Another picture of the original Garrett Tree Farmer

The Garrett Tree Farmer winching a load of trees. The winch on the rear of the skidder was a powered drum that held a main cable. Sliding on this main line were short cables called chokers. The operator fastened each choker cable to the butt end of the tree and then he winched or reeled in the main cable to the rear of the skidder, which brought the butt end of the trees up off the ground. He then proceeded to a landing where the trees were unhooked and cut into eight or sixteen foot lengths.

The following is a picture of a swede saw that Bill Beatty has in his home