Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dad's Old Saw Mill

At my mother's funeral, my cousin, and oldest surviving male member of our family, asked if I remembered that portable sawmill my father
had built when we lived on the farm, along the Montreal River, in Gillies Depot just south of Cobalt, Ontario.

I told him I did, and as a matter of fact, recalled helping my father cut up the slabs that came off the logs and load them in our Ford half ton to deliver as firewood to folks in the Cobalt area. I was about 9 years old then. This was around 1955.

My father had a deal with the Silver Miller Mine in Cobalt (where he also worked as an underground miner) to supply track ties. A lot of the saw logs he used were hauled out of the Montreal River. I recall that he had a boom stretched clear across the river behind the farm.

In the beginning my father was pushing the log carriage into the saw by hand. Fearing the possible loss of a limb, he called his brother Art, a stationary engineer and asked if there was any way that he could rig up some way to power the carriage. Art came down from Kirkland Lake and had a look at it and together they worked some system out.

Anyways, after the funeral my brother Ted and myself took a drive to see if there was an evidence left of our family farm on what was called the Marsh Bay Road.

There was no sign of the old family farm house and barn – I suppose it was cleaned up 9 years or so ago when a new owner built a home on the land.
I hadn't been down in that area in 40 years and things had changed. My brother Ted was especially disappointed since he was born at the farm – a born at home baby.

Anyways, much to my surprise in one corner of the property, against a fence covered with vines and overgrown with tag alders, we spotted the old saw mill and the buzz saw. For some reason it was left. I suppose because it was in an area that was not being used.

I was overwhelmed. I couldn't believe it. It was weird - especially after having that talk with cousin just a few hours before. Every spot of red paint and my father’s ‘bubble gum’ welding brought back so any memories.