Page 2.

From  Branchline, from The North Bay Nugget
from the Canadian Review of Materials.

Below is a review from the Canadian Review of Materials, which reviews educational materials for Schools and Libraries. 

CM . . . . Volume III Number 9 . . . . January 3, 1997 

Logging By Rail In Algonquin Park. The Fassett Lumber Corporation's Fossmill, Ontario Operation. Circa 1930.

Toronto: Past Forward Heritage Services, 1996. 30 mins., video, $29.95. 

Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up. Review by Tom Chambers. 

**** /4 

Canada enjoys a rich history and this video brings to life a small part of that history. It deals with the operation of the Fassett Lumber Corporation's saw mill at Fossmill in Algonquin Park, Ontario. Since logging played such an important part in Canada's past, a video such as this is invaluable. It brings the subject to life. 

Logging By Rail combines still photographs and film with a musical selection of jigs and reels from the period. The informed narration greatly increases the value of the tape. The most unusual aspect of the production is the inclusion of a film from the 1930s made to promote the operation of the Fassett Lumber Corporation's logging operations. Viewers see exactly what the employees of the mill did each day and the kind of tools and equipment they used. The tools can be seen in a museum but this cannot compare with a film showing exactly how they were used. It is particularly exciting to see the Shay locomotives chugging away with their loads of logs, scenes that will bring lumps to the throats of any old-time loggers. These emotions are reinforced at the end of the tape when part of the film is played again with only the sound effects of the train. 

The Fassett Lumber corporation ran into hard times in the 1930s. Fire destroyed the wood yard at Fossmill and some of the workers' homes in 1931 and the mill itself was destroyed in 1934. Since the company lacked the money to rebuild the mill, the town of Fossmill eventually died. Without this video and the book that is to follow, an interesting part of Canada's history would eventually be lost. 

Strongly recommended for anyone with an interest in local history, especially those with an interest in logging and railroading. It will be very valuable for teachers wanting to stimulate an interest in the history of logging. 


Thomas F. Chambers is a teacher at Canadore College of Applied Arts and Technology in North Bay, Ontario. 

Video Review


Logging by Rail in Algonquin Park

This video is based on rare professionally shot film footage of logging and mill operations southeast of North Bay, Ontario, at the Fassett Lumber Corporation's Fossmill location, circa 1930. 

Canada's heritage is a rich collection of vignettes such as the one that unfolds in this totally absorbing 30-minute video. Developed around a promotional film commissioned by the Fassett Lumber Company and tastefully augmented with pictures, realistic sound, informative commentary, and period background music, we are given a unique sample of an aspect of Canadian culture that thrived and eventually disappeared in the lush forests of Algonquin Park. What gives the video genuine historical appeal is the fact that if one searches out the old mill site today, not much will be found other than a meadow-like clearing in the woods, just next to the soon-to-be dismantled CN Beachburg Subdivision. The former landmark was completely destroyed by fire in 1934, with operations moving to Kiosk a couple of years later. 

The video tells the complete story of the harvesting of trees in the northern reaches of Algonquin Park, including their transport to the lumber mill at Fossmill. There is good footage of the tree cutting and dragging operations as well an interesting views of horse-drawn sleigh activities on the south side of tea Lake. After freeze-up, the sleighs were joined together to allow the logs to be towed by both trucks or tractors across the ice to the railhead. Watch, as the logs are skilfully loaded on to waiting railcars by steam-powered Barnhart log loaders and then hauled the next 20 kilometres to the sawmill just outside the park limts. You can't help but be impressed with the fact that the hard-working Shay locomotives had to negotiate tight curves and up to 10 per cent grades as they made their way across the highland terrain. Especially interesting is one segment which features footage shot from the caboose of a moving log train. It's sure to bring a tear to the eye of any B.R.S. member who remembers rides on the Thurso & Nation Valley Railway before its demise 10 years ago. 

The video continues with a very informative description of milling operations, including views of the lumber yard that could store upwards of 15 million board feet of wood stacked in piles up to 40 feet above the ground, and concludes with a brief overview of events that lead up to the cessation of large scale logging operations inside the Park. 

I can't imagine this video not making a wonderful Christmas present. 

P.S. Watch for the soon-to-be-published companion book entitled "The Fosmill Story" - Life in a railway lumbering village on the Edge of Algonquin Park (1924-1947). 

From BRANCHLINE December 1996. 

Fossmill story will soon be in book form

Doug Mackey of, Powassan, former curator of the Mattawa and District Museum, has begun a personal project involving research and writing of a book entitled, The Fossmill Story, which is an account of life in the village of Fossmill a railway lumbering settlement and company town located near the edge of Algonquin Park. 

Like many others of its kind Fossmill has vanished and today is only an empty clearing in what was formerly a lively settlement forged within a timber stand.,lt was established ill 1924 by the Fassett Lumber Company which had depleted its timber resources at Fassett, Que. The Fossmill settlement endured for a decade until fire ravaged the settlement. 

Sydney J. Staniforth, general manager of the operations at Fossmill established a mill at Kiosk and Staniforth Lumber Company became a well known name within the lumbering industry throughout the local district. The Staniforth people .operated the mill at Tee Lake near Temiscaming for a time. Ironically fire struck again and the mill at Kiosk was destroyed in 1973. Today Kiosk is another deserted site of a forrner thriving village. 

Mackey's sons Paul and Clarke have also become involved in the historical project which includes a video. The video entitled, Logging by Rail in Algonquin Park, Circa 1930, is an interesting film which will complement the book. Doug Mackey gave me a copy. 

It offers viewers a look at logging during the early years. For example scenes of cutting trees by axe and crosscut saw, camp cooks announcing the serving of meals by tin horn, something that was traditional in many lumber camps but with time became generally forgotten, the loading of water from. the frozen,surface of a forest lake into wooden tanks that were mounted on runners and used to ice the main winter hauling roads. 

The film clearly illustrates the hardships and safety hazards the early lumberjacks were exposed to both in the outdoor activities and within the interior of the sawmill. Railway buffs will surely enjoy some of the shots of log hauling on the ribbons of steel during those earlier times. 

The video offers a quick but clear glimpse at the early days of harvesting the forest, the methods and the men who did the jobs and also a look at the period of transition from the old ways into a new, faster and more efficient way of doing things. 

According to Doug Mackey the book, The Fossmill Story, is the story of the people of the village, their day-to-day and year-to-year experiences, the company officials ind the vicissitudes of the industry through boom and bust times. 

I remember a worker at the Temiscaming pulp mill during the days of Canadian International Paper Co., telling me he leamed to speak French while working at Fossmill. Through the years I heard a lot and read about Fossmill but never managed to visit the village site. I recall reading a note on a map of Algonquin Park which showed the location of an old farm somewhere in the area of Fossmill. It stated that the farm grew and sold produce for use by the workers of the Fossmill forest operations. 

And it seems only yesterday that Paul Chivers and I went to Kiosk to do a feature story on the village of Kiosk during its final days of existence. We wandered around the place which was dotted with vacant houses and in places spotted with new growth. We stumbled out of the forest onto a modern tennis court, clean and neatly, fenced in as though anticipating a coming tournament. We paused there for a few minutes in the quiet of the place and commented to each other "What a wonderful place in which to live." But the remaining residents of the village were not of a similar mind. their jobs had been jeopardized, their lives disturbed and their futures in doubt. In fact after the mill burned at Kiosk and the fate of the village and its people remained for a while in a sort of limbo, there was a move by some individuals still living in the village to promote the place as a retirement settlement. 

Strange how quickly the pendulum of time swings and changes everything. Not too long prior to our visit to record the final days of the village, we also remembered reporting, writing and taking photos of a Christmas concert done by the pupils of the school at Kiosk. There was also a church in the village, a large recreation or meeting hall, a store and restaurant. 


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