Ottawa River’s great lumber legacy on display at the Canadian Museum of Civilization

June 30, 2008

Ottawa River’s great lumber legacy on display
at the Canadian Museum of Civilization

Gatineau, Quebec, June 30, 2008 — Talk about the weight of history — 21 tonnes’ worth! The Canadian Museum of Civilization is paying an unusual tribute to the Ottawa Valley’s rough-hewn past by displaying an authentic squared timber crib. The enormous contraption is on display until July 6 in the Waterfall Court, just outside the Museum, following its long journey down the Ottawa River.

Squared timber cribs were once the only way to ship wood from the logging camps of Ontario and Quebec, down the Ottawa River and all the way to Québec City, where it could be loaded onto ships sailing for Great Britain. Unlike boats built to carry cargo, the cribs actually were the cargo — huge timbers assembled into floating structures that were lashed to dozens of other cribs to form an enormous raft of wood.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the last squared timber drive down the Ottawa River, so Pembroke lumber company Herb Shaw & Sons spearheaded an effort to commemorate the event by building a new crib. Vintage tugboats are towing it to several local communities this summer to celebrate the Ottawa Valley’s colourful past and to draw attention to the enduring importance of the Canadian lumber industry, and its move towards greater sustainability.

“The 19th-century river drives opened up this part of the country,” says Victor Rabinovitch, President of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation. “Both Ottawa and Gatineau began life as lumber towns. Even the Canadian Museum of Civilization was built on the foundations of 19th-century lumber mills.

“We are proud to partner with Herb Shaw & Sons in bringing their crib to the National Capital, especially during the week when we celebrate Canada Day.”

The crib, which measures 7.3 m by 12.8 m (24 feet x 42 feet), was built out of 27 white pine timbers donated by Herb Shaw & Sons, the oldest continually run family lumber business in Canada. It took local expert Tom Stephenson and two Algonquin College students about a month to build the structure. Using traditional methods, they pinned the corners and drove hardwood wedges between the timbers to hold them snug.

Their old-fashioned masterpiece has been assembled on the grounds of the Museum of Civilization, where visitors can come explore a fascinating and turbulent chapter of our nation’s history.

The Canadian Museum of Civilization, located on the shores of the Ottawa river in Gatineau, Quebec, is Canada’s largest and most popular cultural institution, attracting over 1.3 million visitors each year.

Information (media):

Chief, Media Relations
Canadian Museum of Civilization
Tel.: 819 776-7167

Media Relations Officer
Canadian Museum of Civilization
Tel.: 819 776-7169

Fax: 819 776-7187

2008-06-30 00:00:00.000