At Big Hawk Lake in the Haliburton Highlands you’ll find the province’s only remaining log chute. What is a log chute you ask? It’s basically a huge waterslide made to carry logs over river landscapes and into lakes for delivery to a sawmill. At one time there were thousands of these log chutes, but alas, this last remaining from 1861 was rebuilt in 2005.
The log chute is a testament to the long history of logging in Ontario. Throughout the 1800s, thousands of men carried logs over turbulent river waters to be delivered to the sawmill via log chutes. Blogger Grace and Simplicity gave an account of the log chute’s use:
In the 19th century logs were hewn into square timbers and then joined to make cribs, which were then attached together to make large rafts. The lumbermen lived and worked on these rafts navigating them down the river to Quebec City and then by ship to Europe. When they came to a rapids or falls, the rafts would be broken apart and sent down the log chutes in separate cribs. The log chutes prevented the logs from being damaged while going over the falls.
It was a way of life for a generation of Ontario men. And remaining evidence of this history lives on in the Haliburton Highlands. When you visit, be sure to check out the Stanhope Museum which tells the chute’s history in greater detail.