The Raftsmen Of The Ottawa And St. Lawrence Rivers
Léon A. Robidoux
For centuries before the last raft went under the Victoria Bridge in 1905, vast assemblages of cleverly bound logs shared the waterways with canoes, boats, and barges as modes of transport in Quebec and Ontario. Songs and sagas were written about them. Jean Talon (1625-1694) was the first builder of the timber rafts used to transport merchandise between Montreal, Quebec City, and Trois-Rivières. Philemon Wright, an American, saw the benefits of the industry after initially intending to clear his land for agriculture. The raft-making and rafting industries could not have existed without a robust timber trade, which in turn grew out of the need to open land to cultivation, then quickly outpaced agriculture as an economic force in the colonies. As roads improved, engines were invented, and timber became scarcer, rafts disappeared.
Robidoux’s book is a fine insight into a bygone era. mRb