Marie Lake: Back to Hauling Logs – Chapter 9 of 11

Written by Harold McNeill on September 17th, 2010. Posted in Family 1940 1965

Bob sleigh with load

Photo (Cousin Helen Pylypow)  Uncle Denny Dewan with a load of logs.  During the early years many family members gained extra money by logging in the winter. My Dad did that for much of his life.  This story tells about the first experience Louise and I had in hauling logs on our own.

Link to Next Post:  Winter Trip to Cold Lake
Link to Last Post:  On Thin Ice
Link to Family Stories Index

Late Fall, 1948

Dad was behind in his work due to injuries suffered in car accident that summer. As winter was upon us, Louise and I asked if we would be allowed to cut and haul some fire wood, a job dad had usually completed by this time. The snow had arrived early that year and by mid-November, after Louise had turned five, there was nearly two feet on the ground in some places.

When we approached Dad said ‘OK’ but Mom, of course, was not all that thrilled with the idea. She had previously watched us haul manure for her garden and lumber for our playhouse, so I suppose she figured we could do it even if she did not like the idea of us heading off into the bush with the team of horses for a full day. 

Front Bob with HorsesEarly the next morning Dad hitched the horses to the sleigh, mom packed a big lunch and we were off into the woods. Riding an empty bobsleigh was difficult. It actually consisted of two ‘bob’s’ – the back hitched to the front with crossed logging chains. When empty, anyone riding had to balance on the front six which was swivelled on a centre pin.

Photo: Family photo from Helen Pylypow, shows family member riding the front bob and balancing feet on the front runner.

On the sleigh Louise and I were riding also had support posts around which we wrapped our arms around.  Now, in two feet of snow you also needed to be careful to keep your feet in line with the runners otherwise one could easily be pulled under the sleigh.

An hour after leaving home we arrived in an area where there was a lot of standing dead poplar. Poplar was a soft wood and easier to cut than fir, jack pine or tamarak. After downing several trees using a ‘swede saw’, we bucked them into 14 foot lengths, and then stopped for a well deserved lunch. We sat on the bob, talked and marvelled at how our little world expanded with every new adventure.

After lunch, before we started loading the 15 or 20, 20 foot lengths we had cut, we had to turn the sleigh around. Turning was tricky as we had to leave the compacted snow road dad had been using. It meant travelling into two feet of fresh snow that could easily conceal an old stump or fallen tree. If we hooked the front bob on a stump or tree we would be in a real pickle as there was no way we could back up. When that happened to dad, he would have to unhitch the horses and pull the sleigh backwards. I was not sure I could do that, so to make sure it was clear, Louise and I tromped out a circular path we would follow with the sleigh. Once we were sure there were no hidden stumps or trees, Louise waited on the road while I made the turn. Success!

We then loaded and headed for home arriving well before dark. When we pulled into the yard we were pleased as punch. Mom and dad were waiting for us with big smiles. Not a bad day’s work for a couple of kids. We waited while mom fetched the old Brownie and snapped the following shot.

Load of LogsPhoto: Mom captioned this photo as she did with many others. Photo is very dark but shows Shep standing on the load with Louise and me standing at the front (mostly in the shadow). Our legs are visible directly in front Shep on the logs. Also note, the playhouse we built with mom is behind the sleigh, furthest in the bush (See Chapter 6). This is the only picture of the playhouse.

Dad unloaded our precious cargo and put the horses in the barn while mom made hot chocolate. Mom must have died a thousand deaths watching her two little kids, particularly Louise, who was just a flyspeck, sitting on the bob behind those huge draft horses, taking off into the wilderness. One swish of one of those, long, course tails and Louise would have been a goner. As for dad, it was just another day of urging his children learn those little ‘life lessons’ that would serve us well in later life.

Living with these crazy men always made for interesting life experiences. A week after my eighth birthday, in January, 1949, I was offered a new challenge. Some thought it was just plain stupid on the part of my dad. ‘Stupid?’, ‘Smart?’ You be the judge.

Harold McNeill

Link to Next Post:  Winter Trip to Cold Lake
Link to Last Post:  On Thin Ice
Link to Family Stories Index


 c1930s:  Helen Pylypow family photos.  A double bob sleigh with load of very large logs in the yard at Midnight Lake. I believe man on the load her dad, my Uncle Denny.


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  • Harold McNeill

    January 15, 2021 |

    Wow, Graham, I was taken by surprise (but then again that’s not too hard). Having all you fine folks (my children by other fathers and mothers) would have been great. I’m hopeful that sometime in the not too distant future, we can reprise that trip. Perhaps we’ll just set aside a time for someone else’s landmark day, and we can surprise them. Love to you two. Harold

  • Graham and Nazanin

    January 15, 2021 |

    How could we miss this historic event my friend!!!
    Nazy and I were booked for that cruise Harold, we were looking so forward to it.
    We will be together soon! We both wish that continued unconditional love you receive from everyone to continue as you are that special someone that makes a difference in this world.
    Happy birthday sir, cheers!

  • Harold McNeill

    January 7, 2021 |

    Glad you found the site and that Dorthy enjoyed. I’ve added a lot of school photos in other locations linked to the High School Years stories. Cheers, Harold

  • Shelley Hamaliuk

    January 2, 2021 |

    Hi there, I am Dorothy Marshall’s (nee Hartman) daughter. Mom was quite excited when she discovered this site while surfing the net yesterday, so excited that she told me to have a look! She quite enjoyed taking a trip down memory and seeing old pictures of herself.Keep up the great work!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

    February 16, 2020 |

    […] Part I, Police solidarity and the push for amalgamation. Part II, Comparing police cultures and implementing change Part III, The past as a guide to the future Part IV The integration of police services […]