Well, it’s a truism well-known to journalists worldwide that, when you are in need of a story, ask a taxi driver. And so it proved on Saturday, when I took a cab and obtained the following tale of industrial espionage, desperation, and hanging offences in the frozen frontiers of the Canadian Old West.
It seems that back in the day, the day being 1885 or so, there was a fierce need for railway ties, with which to tie the country together, as even back then everything west of Thunderbay had a hankering to be free of everything east of it, and vice versa. The demand for lumber was such that men as far north at Fort St. John would cut lumber all winter and float it down the river to wherever the men were building the railroad to sell for ties. To ensure that the ties met standard dimensions without the bother of hanging around such a godforsaken place as Fort St. John, BC all winter to supervise, the Canadian Pacific Railway company supplied to the lumbermen iron rods of an exact length. Cut the wood to the same length, square it off with a broadaxe, and hey, presto! instant railway tie, ready for sale after the spring thaw.
It came to pass that, having not much else to do all winter besides drink, two of the lumberjacks got to feuding. Being Canadian, they did not resort to firearms, though they may at one point have resorted to fisticuffs.
But then, come cutting season, one of them got crafty.
He snuck around to his enemy’s lumber camp and, under cover of the night, cut three inches off his iron measuring rod.
Featured Image Mr. Alexander Neault (1871–1954), cook in a lumber camp / M. Alexander Neault (1871-1954), cuistot dans un camp de bûcherons (BiblioArchives)