Place: Hull
Theme: The Sawmills
Year: 1897
Related Vignette(s):

1867-1960 - The Sawmills
Vignette
C9
The whining saws of the Chaudières Falls

Panoramic view of the centre of Hull and of the industrial buildings of the Chaudières Falls before the Great Fire of 1900.
Panoramic view of the centre of Hull and of the industrial buildings of the Chaudières Falls before the Great Fire of 1900.
Panoramic view of the E.B. Eddy Company buildings and of the Commons Park, around 1897. In the foreground, Montcalm Street, and at the bottom the trees that surround the E.B. Eddy Residence, nicknamed “Château Eddy” by the residents of the island of Hull. When rebuilt after the Hull Fire of 1900, it was given the name Standish Hall by E.B. Eddy. It was to become the most famous of the Hull-Ottawa hotels during the 1940s and 1950s.
Panoramic view of the E.B. Eddy Company buildings and of the Commons Park, around 1897. In the foreground, Montcalm Street, and at the bottom the trees that surround the E.B. Eddy Residence, nicknamed “Château Eddy” by the residents of the island of Hull. When rebuilt after the Hull Fire of 1900, it was given the name Standish Hall by E.B. Eddy. It was to become the most famous of the Hull-Ottawa hotels during the 1940s and 1950s.
Wood-piling grounds and wood piles at the Chaudières Falls, on the Quebec shore of the Ottawa River around 1880.
Wood-piling grounds and wood piles at the Chaudières Falls, on the Quebec shore of the Ottawa River around 1880.
Plunging view of the junction of Brewery Creek and the Ottawa River above the Chaudières Falls, and of the intersection of Taché Boulevard and Eddy Street leading to the Chaudières Bridge around 1925.
Plunging view of the junction of Brewery Creek and the Ottawa River above the Chaudières Falls, and of the intersection of Taché Boulevard and Eddy Street leading to the Chaudières Bridge around 1925.
Typical industrial buildings of the Chaudières Falls, around 1895, in this instance those of H. Crandall and Company.
Typical industrial buildings of the Chaudières Falls, around 1895, in this instance those of H. Crandall and Company.
Plan of the “Lower Village of Hull” including the City of Ottawa and the Chaudières Islands and Falls.
Plan of the “Lower Village of Hull” including the City of Ottawa and the Chaudières Islands and Falls.
Loading of planks and deals on a barge at the Chaudières Falls around 1873.
Loading of planks and deals on a barge at the Chaudières Falls around 1873.
This aerial photograph, taken from the Ontario side of the Ottawa River on September 22nd 1923, takes in the islands and factories of the Chaudières Falls as well as the Quebec and Ontario shoreline. In the foreground is the impressive Hemicycle Dam, the J.R. Booth Company Establishment bought by the E.B. Eddy Company in 1943, and the log-booms used to sort the logs above the Falls.
This aerial photograph, taken from the Ontario side of the Ottawa River on September 22nd 1923, takes in the islands and factories of the Chaudières Falls as well as the Quebec and Ontario shoreline. In the foreground is the impressive Hemicycle Dam, the J.R. Booth Company Establishment bought by the E.B. Eddy Company in 1943, and the log-booms used to sort the logs above the Falls.
View of part of the sawmills of the Chaudières Falls. In the background, as far as the eye can see, are wood-piles of planks and deals.
View of part of the sawmills of the Chaudières Falls. In the background, as far as the eye can see, are wood-piles of planks and deals.
Plunging view of Chaudière, Victoria and Albert Islands and of the LeBreton Flats, around 1940, on the Ontario side of the Chaudières Falls. In those days, this sector of Ottawa known as LeBreton Flats was a very important industrial zone.
Plunging view of Chaudière, Victoria and Albert Islands and of the LeBreton Flats, around 1940, on the Ontario side of the Chaudières Falls. In those days, this sector of Ottawa known as LeBreton Flats was a very important industrial zone.
A section of Booth Street, near the entrance to Victoria Island around 1920. Beyond the tramways, to the north can be seen the main gate of the J.R. Booth factories and the Chaudière Bridge.
A section of Booth Street, near the entrance to Victoria Island around 1920. Beyond the tramways, to the north can be seen the main gate of the J.R. Booth factories and the Chaudière Bridge.
Ezra Butler Eddy on his horse on the grounds of what was to become the Standish Hall Hotel, around 1905, a short time before his death which occurred in 1906. A native of the state of Vermont, he was born in 1827, just like J.R. Booth. This ingenious and visionary businessman was also active in politics, at the municipal and provincial levels, on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River.
Ezra Butler Eddy on his horse on the grounds of what was to become the Standish Hall Hotel, around 1905, a short time before his death which occurred in 1906. A native of the state of Vermont, he was born in 1827, just like J.R. Booth. This ingenious and visionary businessman was also active in politics, at the municipal and provincial levels, on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River.
John Rudolphus Booth, the industrial magnate, was born in Waterloo, Quebec in 1827 and died in Ottawa in 1925. He built his fortune in the forest industry and in the railroad business.
John Rudolphus Booth, the industrial magnate, was born in Waterloo, Quebec in 1827 and died in Ottawa in 1925. He built his fortune in the forest industry and in the railroad business.

The Outaouais forest industry was subjected to major changes in the second half of the nineteenth century. The signing of the Reciprocity Treaty with the United States of America in 1854 opened the American market to the lumber producers of Canada and especially of the Ottawa River Valley. This trade slowly replaced the declining British market1. Sawn lumber took over from square timber and became the dominant Canadian wood trade. That trend accelerates the industrialization process by giving birth to the large sawmilling trade of the Ottawa Valley and of the Chaudières Falls in particular. It began the building of sawn lumber industrial establishments at the Chaudières Falls, between Gatineau (Hull) and Ottawa (Bytown), and all along the Ottawa River by American investors who wanted to supply the American demand for sawn lumber. Those investments had a snowball effect. The old sawmills of the Ottawa Valley were revamped and their production increased accordingly. Towns like Quyon, Fort-Coulonge, Pembroke, Braeside, Aylmer, Buckingham, North Nation Mills, Hawkesbury, and a number of others experienced economic prosperity and an important increase in their population.

Before the arrival of American investors at the Chaudières Falls in the early 1850s, only three firms made use of the hydraulic power of the falls. As soon as they settled in the Township of Hull around 1800, the Wrights built a sawmill, a gristmill and a forge at the Chaudières. It was only in 1837; however, that Daniel McLachlin laid the foundations of his flour mill on one of the islands located to the South of the falls, and in 1842 that Philip Thompson and John Perkins build their gristmill and sawmill at the same place.2 These two establishments were set up on lots rented from the Government, just like most of the large sawmills built by American investors at the Chaudières. The amazing industrial development of the Chaudières Falls can be traced back to the building of a dam and diversion canals and to the setting up of hydraulic water lots on the south side of the Ottawa River by the Government. The Americans, who had money to invest, were quick to seize the opportunity. They rented a good number of these industrial water lots on 21-year leases3.

The building of the Bytown and Prescott Railway, completed in 1854, was the Americans’ first major investment in the Ottawa area. At the same time they are drawing up plans to enter into the sawn-lumber industry. The first to do so were Levi Youn, in 1851; J.J. Harris and H.F. Bronson in 1852; and W.G. Perley and C.B. Pattee in 18534. At about the same time, Ezra Butler Eddy came up from Vermont in 1851 and John Rudolphus Booth, from Waterloo, in the Eastern Townships in 18535. Both will have a brilliant future in the Ottawa Valley’s forest industry.

By 1856, the Chaudières Falls were totally changed. P.G. Thompson’s sawmill was enlarged to have 27 upright saws and one circular saw, whereas Young, Wynn and Company had 21 uprights. In comparison, Harris and Bronson, the largest producer reported to have 74 upright saws and four circulars in activity and had the facilities for 70 more upright saws. At the same time, the Blasdell and Company firm was setting up an impressive sawmill on Chaudière Island. Beset by financial difficulties however, the Blasdell brothers sold out their interests to A.H. Baldwin6. These developments, as well as many others, raised the Ottawa-Hull area’s production of sawn-lumber from 20 to 25 million board feet of lumber in 1859 to 100 million board feet in 18687 (image). Meanwhile, the entrepreneurial spirit and clear-sightedness of J.R. Booth and E.B. Eddy paid off so much so that in 1871 both of them occupied preferred positions in the lumber trade. As surprising as it may seem, the Ottawa Valley’s sawn-lumber production actually increased, despite the economic depression that dragged down the lumber industry as a whole from the end of the 1870s to the beginning of the 1890s. (image) The Ottawa-Hull area’s lumber production, which peaked in 1896, began to free fall at the beginning of the twentieth century8. The Ottawa Valley’s availability of good quality timber reserves were practically exhausted and the British Columbia production gradually took over9. The visionary Ezra Butler Eddy foresaw that evolution. In 1889, he built the region’s first sulphite pulp mill10, on the site of today’s Canadian Museum of Civilization.

Search the Web!
Read-up on the life of these great men of the Lumber Trade Era in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography:

William Goodhue Perley at:
Website

Henry Franklin Bronson at:
Website

John Rudolphus Booth at:
Website

Ezra Butler Eddy at:
Website

References and definitions

1 Ibid., pages 41-42.

2 Ibid., page 42. For a well-documented biography of J.R. Booth see : C.F. Coons, “The John R. Booth Story”, in Your Forests, Vol. 11, No 2, (Summer 1978), Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Forest Management Branch, Toronto, pages 8-26.

3 Ibid., page 41.

4 Ibid., pages 41-42.

5 Ibid., page 42. For a well-documented biography of J.R. Booth see : C.F. Coons, “The John R. Booth Story”, in Your Forests, Vol. 11, No 2, (Summer 1978), Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Forest Management Branch, Toronto, pages 8-26.

6 John W. Hughson and Courtney C. J. Bond, Op. cit., pages 42-43.

7 Ibid., page 44.

8 For an overview of the forest industry in the Ottawa Region in 1896, see: The Timber Trades Journal and Sawmill Advertiser, Vol. XLII (42), No 1 069, February 20, 1897.

9 William L. Marr et Donald G. Paterson, Canada: An Economic History, Toronto, Macmillan of Canada, 1980, page 363.

10 John W. Hughson and Courtney C. J. Bond, Op. cit., page 47.

Secondary media sources and captions

PHOTO No 1
Source: Library and Archives Canada, C 6629. Photographer : William Topley.
Caption: Panoramic view of the centre of Hull and of the industrial buildings of the Chaudières Falls before the Great Fire of 1900.

PHOTO No 2
Source: Pierre Louis Lapointe Collection. Photographer: Lancefield, Ottawa.
Caption: Panoramic view of the E.B. Eddy Company buildings and of the Commons Park, around 1897. In the foreground, Montcalm Street, and at the bottom the trees that surround the E.B. Eddy Residence, nicknamed “Château Eddy” by the residents of the island of Hull. When rebuilt after the Hull Fire of 1900, it was given the name Standish Hall by E.B. Eddy. It was to become the most famous of the Hull-Ottawa hotels during the 1940s and 1950s.

PHOTO No 3
Source: Library and Archives Canada, PA 012528. Photographer : William Topley.
Caption: Wood-piling grounds and wood piles at the Chaudières Falls, on the Quebec shore of the Ottawa River around 1880.

PHOTO No 4
Source: Pierre Louis Lapointe Collection. Aerial photograph: Airmaps Company Limited.
Caption: Plunging view of the junction of Brewery Creek and the Ottawa River above the Chaudières Falls, and of the intersection of Taché Boulevard and Eddy Street leading to the Chaudières Bridge around 1925.

PHOTO No 5
Source: Library and Archives Canada, C 2208. Photographer: William Topley.
Caption: Typical industrial buildings of the Chaudières Falls, around 1895, in this instance those of H. Crandall and Company.

PHOTO No 6
Source: Pierre Louis Lapointe Collection. Plan of the Village of Hull and of the City of Ottawa by W. A. Austin.
Caption: Plan of the “Lower Village of Hull” including the City of Ottawa and the Chaudières Islands and Falls.

PHOTO No 7
Source: Notman Photographic Archives, McCord Museum.
Caption: Loading of planks and deals on a barge at the Chaudières Falls around 1873.

PHOTO No 8
Source: Pierre Louis Lapointe Collection. Aerial photograph.
Caption: This aerial photograph, taken from the Ontario side of the Ottawa River on September 22nd 1923, takes in the islands and factories of the Chaudières Falls as well as the Quebec and Ontario shoreline. In the foreground is the impressive Hemicycle Dam, the J.R. Booth Company Establishment bought by the E.B. Eddy Company in 1943, and the log-booms used to sort the logs above the Falls.

PHOTO No 9
Source: Library and Archives Canada, PA-27215.
Caption: View of part of the sawmills of the Chaudières Falls. In the background, as far as the eye can see, are wood-piles of planks and deals.

PHOTO No 10
Source: Pierre Louis Lapointe Collection. Aerial photograph.
Caption: Plunging view of Chaudière, Victoria and Albert Islands and of the LeBreton Flats, around 1940, on the Ontario side of the Chaudières Falls. In those days, this sector of Ottawa known as LeBreton Flats was a very important industrial zone.

PHOTO No 11
Source: Pierre Louis Lapointe Collection. Photographer unknown.
Caption: A section of Booth Street, near the entrance to Victoria Island around 1920. Beyond the tramways, to the north can be seen the main gate of the J.R. Booth factories and the Chaudière Bridge.

PHOTO No 12
Source: City of Gatineau Archives, Call No V-12-719. Photographer unknown.
Caption: Ezra Butler Eddy on his horse on the grounds of what was to become the Standish Hall Hotel, around 1905, a short time before his death which occurred in 1906. A native of the state of Vermont, he was born in 1827, just like J.R. Booth. This ingenious and visionary businessman was also active in politics, at the municipal and provincial levels, on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River.

PHOTO No 13
Source: Pierre Louis Lapointe Collection. Photographer unknown.
Caption: John Rudolphus Booth, the industrial magnate, was born in Waterloo, Quebec in 1827 and died in Ottawa in 1925. He built his fortune in the forest industry and in the railroad business.