A flood of immigrants had entered Canada between 1760–1860. By the mid-19th century the Island was settled and immigration had practically ceased. Before long the tide slowly turned as Islanders began to leave due to a variety of foreign and domestic conditions that existed. By 1900 more than 30,000 had left their Island homes for better opportunities. Their destination of choice was almost exclusively the US, especially to New England.
A small part of this outmigration was the seasonal migration of Islanders, mainly men, to Maine to work in the forest industry. It was an ideal chance, for those who did not want to leave the Island permanently, to augment family income by working in the Maine woods and mills for five or six months a year. Thousands of Islanders between 1870–1930 made this annual migration.
Island writer and historian, J. Clinton Morrison, tells the story of this annual journey in his latest book, Logjams and Widow-makers: Prince Edward Islanders in the Maine Woods, a story of danger, hard work, tragedy, and absence from home experienced by those who worked in the woods or mills of Maine.
Living in crude camps deep in the woods was hardship enough without also having to face the dangers of their work cutting down trees, taking part in the great river log drives, sawing lumber and making paper in the mills. Working in isolation deep in the snow-filled woods, and enduring bitterly cold temperatures, the men created their own forms of entertainment. The old lumberwoods songs and stories were paramount in their enjoyment of leisure time away from work.
J. Clinton Morrison, was born in Conway, PE, in 1948. He retired from his teaching career in 2003, having taught continuously in Island schools since 1968. He has been researching, writing, editing and publishing Island history, poetry, and genealogy since 1975. This is Morrison’s 12th book as author or editor. He and his wife Pearl reside in Summerside.
Logjams and Widow–Makers is available at select Island retail bookstores or from the author at 436-8518 or email@example.com