Friends in High Places


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In the heyday of Victoria Harbour, Sir Wilfred Laurier was Prime Minister, The Victoria Harbor Lumber Company was the town’s economic engine, and John Waldie was Company President. 1898 was a very good year for Waldie and the Company, with sales of over 24 million feet of lumber.

 

 

Figure 1: John Waldie

On December 28 Waldie wrote a Christmas greeting to his friend Laurier, in which he told of sending 100 turkeys to his 200 men in the woods, and 89 turkeys to families of the mill workers.

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In those 89 families, many of whom were French-Canadian, there were 32 children under the age of one year, which Waldie thought “a pretty good record”. Each child received a $5 gold piece.

 

Figure 2: The Three Victoria Harbor Lumber Company Mills

Waldie went on to say “…you have always dubbed me a Frenchman because of my large family. I thought, seeing I was a Scotchman, I would pay it back to you, though you are a Frenchman, you are no better than a Scotchman.”

Laurier replied on December 31, wished Waldie and family best wishes for the coming year, and commented that he was “glad to see that you do not ignore the good merits of the French-Canadian in a certain respect…”

This correspondence between Waldie and Laurier was quite jovial but it should be noted that, at that time, all lumbermen, like Laurier, were Liberals. It was just good business.

Waldie of course could be hard-nosed as required. In fact he was often called “that old war horse”.

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Figure 3 is a letter dated April 10, 1894 from Waldie to his solicitor/agent directing him to sue a debtor at once for bills not paid when due.

John Waldie died in 1907 and the Victoria Harbor Lumber Company ceased operations in 1927.

 

 

 

 

Figure 3: Waldie Letter of April 10, 1894

Sources:

Haskill, Mary:  Nosing into the Past: Life and Times in Huronia, Huronia Museum, 2002.

Tay Heritage Committee http://www.tay.ca/en/your-municipality/tay-heritage-committee.asp

 

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