1971.22.139 | Axe

1875, 19th century
8.75 x 16.3 cm
New Brunswick Museum
This artefact belongs to: © New Brunswick Museum
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Keys to History

New Brunswick loggers cut down trees with a poll axe. Axes were the cause of more than half the accidents in the forest and a common remedy was a poultice of chewing tobacco. The poll axe had a narrow head, or poll, which equalled the weight of the blade and therefore gave the lumberjack's stroke more force. For much of the 19th century until the advent of the crosscut saw, the poll axe was the only tool used to fell trees in New Brunswick.

  • What

    The trees felled by the poll axe included great white pines, often over a metre in diameter.

  • Where

    Lumberjacks favoured the Black Prince or the Sampson axe made in Montreal or an axe made in Ottawa by Henry Walters, who had learned his trade in Sheffield, England.

  • When

    This axe dates from about 1875; the handle is a reproduction.

  • Who

    An axeman usually "hung," or fitted, the handle of a poll axe himself and ground the blade to a fan-shaped edge.