Mcrae Lumber Company, Whitney Ontario

Two Rivers: 1933 - 1942


View of the mill from the lake showing the jackladder that carried the logs up to the bandsaw.

After the Airy Mill burned down, there was essentially nothing to salvage. JSL put together enough money from insurance, lumber that was saved from the fire and a loan from the Bank of Montreal to build the Lake of Two Rivers Mill.

Bush camps remained essentially the same as the those that served the Airy Mill. With the men still living and working the entire winter in the camp. Some years the  men would walk out to see their families at Christmas if the camps were located close enough.


The man kneeling near the Barrienger brake is controlling the descent of the loaded sleigh in the background.

The device in the photograph is called a Barrienger brake. It consisted of a low steel frame with a number of in-line steel wheels through which a steel cable was woven. The brake was then anchored to a tree at the top of a steep hill and attached to a loaded sleigh. When operated, the brake controlled the decent of the loaded sleigh down the treacherous hill.

Old-fashioned truck with dual rear wheels with chains pulling a sleigh loaded with logs.

In the mid 1930s, the bush operations underwent a dramatic transformation with the beginnings of mechanization. The introduction of tractors and trucks to replace horses on the skid and haul resulted in significant changes. Although the new methods took time to get used to, they proved to be more efficient.

The mill was situated right in the centre of the cutting limits with areas both north and south of the railway destined for cutting. The position of the railroad was advantageous as it allowed for logs to be transported to the mill from some of the camps that were located near the line.

Old steam locomotive pulling empty flat-bed cars fitted with upright poles to hold in the logs.

The Two Rivers Mill was smaller than the Airy mill as it was a one sided mill. Meaning it only had one bandsaw headrig along with a flatbead resaw and edger. This mill was the first to have a hot pond with steam from the mill heating the water. Frozen logs were put into the pond, where they thawed and allowed the mill to cut year round. The mill cut about 30,000 to 40,000 board feet of hardwood and 40,000 to 45,000 board feet of softwood per shift.