From the recording Riverdrive Dance
The Dumoine River is one of many rivers in the Ottawa valley that was subject to intense logging starting in the mid-1800s, and it was that logging boom in Canada that brought development, employment and prosperity to the Ottawa Valley. River drives were initially the way to transport logs from the winter cutting limits to the sawmills at Ottawa. This song refers to the riverdrives on the Dumoine with that ended in 1961. It was dangerous work and many men perished. The remains of riverdrive camps, log chutes and cribs can still be found along the rivers, although barely discernable. Enjoy the song cover artwork by Jelly Massee (https://www.facebook.com/jellymasseesgallery).
Riverdrive Dance, Marc Audet
On a boulder, and stump-laden shore
With our boats pulled in, with resting battled oars
Was Grande Chute camp … four buildings, ten cribs,
We were sorting logs … as they floated in.
The log chute ran … long past the drop
Three thousand feet … for the best logs
Sometimes we stood … at the log jam bends
With poles and boots … us riverdrive men
When the call came in, on the telephone line,
about a log jam, it’s now our time … it’s time, to go.
From Grande Chute camp, south we run
With riverdrive boots and long pike poles … and then some.
Flooded shores and ice cold drink.
Fast moves on feet, no time to blink.
A skill we had, still left to chance.
Came the legend of the riverdrive dance.
With dynamite loaded in the log jam pile,
Seven minute fuse seemed to take a while … get ready then.
When the log jam gives, we’re back on course
With pointer boats helping working shore to shore … keep it moving, men.
From the April melt … I ran with my men.
From Grande Chute to Dufoe’s, at the end.
Along a wagon road … we did run
To chase the logs, long days, wet fun
When the drive was done, it was time to go back home
To the farms we ran, with pay, for our loans
But some men, well, didn’t make it out
Their time had come, there was no way to help.
So we nailed their boots to the nearest pine tree
And we counted our blessings, it was plain to see … what the river took.
But we had to move on … no time to waste
We kept the logs moving, with cautious haste … until the drive was done.
‘61 was the last riverdrive
Trucks hauled logs in a fraction of the time
It marked the end of our riverdriving days
With our boots and poles we went our separate ways
The log chute and cribs are now gone
The stories and traditions come by song
I stand on shore imagining back then
The dance of those riverdrive men
Fast feet, keen eye, those riverdrive men
I long to see the riverdrive again.