Whenever you think of forestry industries you think about the people who toil day after day to cut them down and process those trunks into paper, furniture or even houses. We’re speaking, of course, of the lumberjack/lumberjane. While this job probably isn’t something a lot of kids are aiming for in their final years of high school, it doesn’t mean that they no longer exist.
If you close your eyes and picture someone in this industry you most likely picture a big, burly man or stocky woman outfitted in flannel plaid shirts with an axe slung across their shoulders. You’d be pretty spot on with that description and if you were looking for a Hallowe’en costume idea, you’re welcome.
Did you know there are international championships to determine who is the best lumberjack in the world? We’re talking about more than just tree trimming, friends. Several countries compete in various games and it’s surprising to see who is at the top:
Lumberjack World Championship
Canada has serious skill in the lumberjack department, and Scott Read is heading to Germany to prove it to the world.
The 34-year-old engineering instructor at Dalhousie University’s Truro campus won the coveted spot on Canada’s national woodsman team this summer, and in November he’ll compete as part of the five-man team at the Stihl Lumberjack World Championship in Stuttgart.
“The top countries are New Zealand, Australia and the U.S., and then Canada. We’re hoping to make the podium this year.”
Read’s father ran a small lumber mill and Read began chopping wood when he was nine years old. He practised with his local 4H club, then competed on his varsity team, eventually taking over as coach. In 2009, he turned pro.
George Williams from River Denys, Cape Breton will also travel to Germany to compete.
“We are the first two from Nova Scotia to make Team Canada,” Read said.
With all the history and experience with paper mills and chopping down trees one would think that Canada would be higher on that list.
Sleep All Night and Work All Day
It’s not a surprise that being a lumberjack was hard work. These men and women would be up at the crack of dawn and performing grueling physical labour until the sun set. Thanks to technology being in this industry got a lot easier. Loggers and lumberjacks/janes alike are able to work around the clock. Even year round. This of course would increase productivity. More productivity = more income. When you think of all the things a tree can be made into it’s actually quite astounding. Of course, many industries try to use all of the tree instead of wasting parts while there are those who hope the logging profession would dry up and disappear before we lose all our forests. Like any industry there are pros and cons to everything. It’s important to review all information and formulate your own opinion.
The history of lumberjacks in Canada is actually quite interesting. As part of a huge industry that wasn’t formally recognized until the 18th century it’s no wonder much of the information was committed to legend and fable. To be a lumberjack was to be a mythically strong individual who could perhaps fell an entire tree with one swing of the axe.
Nowadays it’s all very symbolic and nostalgic to think about lumberjacks and the legends born from their feats of strength (Paul Bunyan anyone?) It goes to show, however, that this profession will always bring a certain image to mind: big, strong, and covered in flannel plaid.