X12293 | Choppers at Work

Choppers at Work
Isaac Erb & Son (1897-1938)
1897-1912, 20th century
15.3 x 20.3 cm
This artefact belongs to: © New Brunswick Museum
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Keys to History

"Daylight in the Swamp!" The cutting crew's day often began with these words from the camp foreman, but it could still be dark when they reached the work site after breakfast. Unlike most city workers with their regimented hours, lumberjacks toiled in tune with the changing seasons and available daylight. The choppers and sawyers' work began in the fall after the farmer's harvest and continued into the early winter. Known as the "shock troops of the forest," the cutters employed various tools through the years and cut down a variety of timber, based on supply and demand.

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

  • What

    The majestic white pine, which often grew to over 35 meters, was the favoured tree to cut.

  • Where

    Few trades were more migratory than logging. By 1900, for example, more than half the lumberjacks in Maine were from the Maritimes or Quebec.

  • When

    Autumn was the season of the choppers and sawyers, who arrived in camp as early as September.

  • Who

    Isaac Erb operated a well-known photography studio in Saint John in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.