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Canadian Camp

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Canadian Camp (1942-1944)

The Canadian Camp is the (dismantled) wartime lumber camp on Mar Lodge Estate, Aberdeenshire.

Occupied by Company 25, of the 2nd Forestry District, of the Canadian Forestry Corps - the Canadian Camp covered the 'peninsula' between the left-bank of Uisge Laoigh and the left-bank of the Dé and some of the land on the north side of the north Deeside road.

Although the area is now covered by a plantation created in the early 1980s, before then the surviving features of that wartime occupation were evident on the ground.

Although not easy to see now, the area is dotted with large concrete blocks with embedded rusty bolts ; partially rotted logs 'nailed' together with steel spikes, five-eighths-of-an-inch in diameter ; ceramic insulators mounted on trees ; the 'big ditch' ; rails - from the light railway ; and the remains of the Canadian Bridge.

Bush Operations

Bush Operations involved the whole process of bringing trees from the hillsides to the sawmill.

Bush Operations were typically directed by a lieutenant, and five sergeants acting as foremen (CMHQ-29, paragraph 17) and included : cutting access roads across the hillsides, cutting down trees, cutting trees into logs, and transporting logs to the sawmill.

Canadian Camp (1942-1944)The steps of this process included :

  • Trees cut down with handsaws, axes, and wedges (CMHQ-29, paragraph 19)
  • Trunks trimmed of branches then cut into logs
  • Logs brought off the hillside by 'sulky and cat' to the roadside
  • Logs loaded onto trucks at the roadside and carried to the sawmill where they were manhandled into the log-pond

Each of these steps required men working in pairs. If you can imagine how much time and effort the process of bringing one tree to the sawmill required, you'll realise that Bush Operations must have involved most of the men in the company.

The Bush Operation men appear to have been organised into 4 teams.  On the assumption that Company 25 was newly equipped (1942) before leaving Canada, each team was equipped with :

  • An International Harvester TD-9 Tractor and Logging Sulky
  • A Ford FC 60L (stake-bed) truck - 3-ton, 158-inch wheelbase, with a 95-horsepower V8 engine

The TD-9 Tractors were small tracked-tractors and the Logging Sulkies were large, two-wheeled 'carts', towed by the TD-9 Tractors for carrying logs off the hillsides.  The Logging Sulkies look like huge golf-carts carrying their log-load beneath their u-shaped frames and between their large wheels.

The company had a single International Harvester TD-9 Bulldozer for cutting access roads (CMHQ-151, paragraph 54).

The 'big ditch'

Canadian Camp (1942-1944)The 'big ditch' was man-made with a water intake from the Laoigh.  At its deepest and widest point the ditch was over 10 ft. deep, and 20 ft. wide.  There are many 'spiked' logs at regular intervals along the ditch and perpendicular to its axis.  In use the 'big ditch' was almost filled with water forming a 'log pond'. 

Logs were brought to the 'log pond' by truck and dumped into it before being fed into the sawmill.  The purpose of the 'log pond' was twofold - first - most of the saw-damaging grit the logs accumulated in their journey from the hillsides could be cleaned off - second - floating logs are easier to manoeuvre onto the mechanism that carried the logs into the sawmill.


Canadian Camp (1942-1944)It was the intention of the Canadian Forestry Corps that all their sawmills were to be "as far as possible, all precisely similar" (CMHQ-029, Paragraph 9).  That being the case : each had one International Harvester UD-18 100-horsepower diesel engine to power all the machinery in the sawmill.  The sawmilling process comprised several stages including a 'head saw', 'resaws', and 'edgers'.

Taking a guess at the sawmill layout from examining the arrangement of the concrete blocks and the photographic evidence - I think the axis of the sawmill ran roughly south-east from the 'log pond'.  Logs were carried into the sawmill through its north-western gable and the sawn boards left the sawmill by the boardway on its south-western side.

Light railway

Canadian Camp (1942-1944)On the south-eastern side of the boardway the light railway had at least three sidings. 

The boards leaving the sawmill were manhandled into the wagons in the sidings before a locomotive pushed the small trains across the Canadian Bridge and some distance towards Inverey before the boards were transferred to trucks.


Canadian Camp Bridge

Canadian Camp (1942-1944)On the south side of the Canadian Camp, a short distance upstream from the small beach at Poll na Bruaich Ruaidhe, a substantial log-bridge was built over the river. 

The Canadian Camp Bridge survived into the 1960s when is was damaged by floods and was demolished.  The exact position of its abutments are still evident in the form of spiked-logs on the left-bank and spikes in the rock on the right-bank of the river.

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