1989.69.117 | Towing Rafts Near Fredericton

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Towing Rafts Near Fredericton
1911, 20th century
15 x 18.3 cm
Gift of Sylvia Yeoman
This artefact belongs to: © New Brunswick Museum
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Keys to History

The work of constructing rafts for the final journey to the sawmill was a complicated job, and required skilled hands. Timber rafts were formed from the rattlings within the confines of the log boom. Joints were usually made by drilling holes in the timbers with an auger, inserting hardwood pegs and securing the whole thing with rope. The individual joints were then sent on to the "bracketing ground," where they were bound into rafts of a dozen or more joints, using rope. Some rafts were huge, containing up to 140 joints and stretching almost a kilometer in length. But most stuck to 12 or 13 joints and measured about 46 metres long.

In the early days, rafts were powered by sails and steered by long oars. They could cover over 150 kilometres in 24 hours.

Source : All in a Day's Work: Lumbering in New Brunswick [Web tour], by New Brunswick Museum (see Links)

  • What

    Drilling augers had to be at least 1.5 metres in height so that a raftsman could drill while standing on a floating log.

  • Where

    Raftsmen were sheltered by tents or lean-tos and were accompanied by a floating cook's section aboard a raft with a wooden roof and an enclosed fire pit.

  • When

    By the late 19th century, steam tugs had largely replaced sails and oars. towing the rafts to the mills.

  • Who

    In August 1888, Hugh Robertson of Saint John launched a giant cigar-shaped raft in Nova Scotia. It contained 22 000 logs.