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La Pitoune

Accession number: 
Production Years: 
1959 to 1960


Film Properties: 
Length (feet): 
1057 (16mm)
Length (minutes): 
Holding Institutions: 

Library and Archives Canada: 16mm, Beta,
"Examines the harvesting of wood in the forests of St. Lawrence North for the pulpwood industry and the working life of the men who make their living as 'bûcherons'. The area on the coast of the St. Lawrence known as the 'coast of wood' features forests of spruce, balsa, and jack pine that are selectively cut down over a four year period. One year in advance of each cutting, forest engineers walk the woods - known as cruising - checking the area to ensure it will last four times through three seasons. Some parts of the forest regenerate in 30 years, if a fire has occurred it can take 100 years. The men camp on-site throughout the three seasons which involve hard physical labour in all weather conditions. The bush roads are opened at the end of summer, the first season. Working conditions have recently been improved with the introduction of the sawmill, replacing the cross-cut saw, and the chainsaw - replacing the bucksaw. The workers are paid by the cord and these improvements increase their speed and ultimate pay, although the chainsaw and gas to run it take a fair percentage of their earnings. During winter men and horses travelling paths the tractor couldn't, haul out wood from under the snow where trees have fallen in autumn. By the end of the season enormous heaps of wood known as skidways are piled at the edge of the lakes. At this point the wood has been examined, marked, measured and tabulated by the accountants. During the spring thaw these logs will fall into the water where they eventually travel a network of lakes on their way to the pulpwood mills. In the past, a few drivers would drown every year guiding the logs on this voyage. Today the flow of water is controlled by dams, the boats use motors rather than oars and dynamite along with bulldozers are used to loosen jams once solved by the strongarm and gaffes. Nature still plays a part - the wind is as important to the drive as the water. After the first run of logs has passed through a river, long boats known as 'pointers' spread out along the shores to sweep the lakes of wayward logs. All the villages between St. Île des Caps and Seven Islands depend upon the forest behind and the sea before them. As the film concludes, 'A tree takes 50 years to grow, men take three seasons, nine months to cut it, haul it, drive it to the sea.' Folk music from the area is featured throughout the film including a folk song, THE FRIVOLOUS WIND, describing the wind and its importance to the log drive."


Online Database National Film Board of Canada.
"Au Québec, sur les bords du Saint-Laurent entre Sept-Iles et Saint-Tite-des-Caps, les jeunes gens du pays s'engagent, pour attendre le temps des labours dans les chantiers, comme bûcherons l'automne, charretiers l'hiver et draveurs au printemps."

"All along the North Shore from Saint-Tite-des-Caps to the bay of Sept-îles, logging starts with the construction of the camps. But the good logs once used for the legendary log cabins are now turned into planks, beams and rafters in the sawmill that has replaced the side axes and board saws. It takes three seasons to harvest the logs. First the autumn for felling the trees with the chain saws that have taken over from the bow saws and two-handed saws. Then the winter snows to make it easier for the horses to haul the logs to the ice-covered rivers. And finally the wild waters of spring that carry the logs to the wooden schooners that will take them to the mill."