Figure 1: Waubaushene Mill, Matchedash Bay c1920
The headquarters and largest of the Georgian Bay Lumber Company mills was located in Waubaushene. This mill employed about 250 men, including millwrights, blacksmiths, sawyers, filers, lumber pilers, and general labourers. Most were seasonal employees, many of them single men.
In winter hundreds moved north to work in the lumber camps and on drive. The Company’s early bush camps were close to home in the surrounding townships. As the logs were cut to length they were branded with the Company’s registered mark and driven down the Severn, Wye, Sturgeon, Black and North Rivers.
Figure 2: Log Rolling 1915
Log booms were towed to the mills, ultimately from as far away as Blind River on the north shore. Sawn lumber was loaded on to barges, schooners, and steamboats for shipment to ports in Canada and the US. After the Midland Railway from Orillia reached Waubaushene in 1875, rail transport to the south became available.
Figure 3: Insurance Map of GBLC Mills and Adjacent Area, 1890
In 1880, a new mill was built, powered by steam and lit by electricity, with a capacity of 300,000 board-feet per day. In 1896, a second mill replaced the operation in Port Severn.
Note the early spelling of”Waubashene” and that the streets were once named after Dodge family relatives and business partners. Population is noted as 1,800.
The 125 ft. tall structure is a sawdust burner.
Figure 4: Waubaushene Mill (detail) c 1883.
Inside the mill it was a nightmare of slapping belts, screaming saws and thundering logs, followed by the thwack of half a carload of boards spilling out on the board way.
Figure 5: Mill Interior
In front of the mill there were close to seven miles of elevated track through the lumberyard. The piling yards were considered the best in the country.
From 1875 – 1879 Waubaushene was the terminus of the Midland Railway. Four tracks led into the mill.
Figure 6: Piling Yards
Carload after carload of cut lumber left on the return trip to Port Hope and the American market. By 1920 however, most of the commercial pine below the north shore had been harvested and the company ceased operations in 1924. By 1925 the mill was torn down and most of the company property was sold. Figure 7: Mill Site from Matchedash Bay,2015
For more detail on Tay heritage sites visit https://taytownshipheritage.wordpress.com
Angus, James T. A Deo Victoria: The Story of the Georgian Bay Lumber Company 1871-1942 by Severn Publications Ltd. Orillia, 1994. 320 pages. ISBN0-9694197-0-8
Facebook Page: Huronia’s Past and Present: https://www.facebook.com/groups/HuroniaPastandPresent/
Goad, Chas. E., Fire Insurance Plan of the Village of Waubaushene for the year 1890
Chas. E. Goad, Montreal
Haskill, Mary Nosing into the Past, Life and Times in Huronia, by Huronia Museum, Midland, 2002. ISBN 0-921922-16-7
Tay Township Heritage Blog: https://taytownshipheritage.wordpress.com/
Tay Township Heritage Committee http://www.tay.ca/en/your-municipality/tay-heritage-committee.asp
Tay Township Heritage Register and Inventory