Winslow Papers

The New Brunswick Lumber Industry

The New Brunswick lumber industry has a long and rich history. It began with the construction in 1670 of a mill in Charlotte County by French settlers, but it was not until the Napoleonic Wars that New Brunswick woodlands began to be fully exploited. Between 1793 and 1815 Great Britain and France were in an almost constant state of warfare. The conflict took its toll on the British Navy, which needed a secure supply of ship timber to maintain the navy and merchant marine.

Traditionally, Great Britain had relied on the hillsides of Scandinavia for its timber, but a French blockade of the Baltic Sea in 1807 disrupted supply. Out of necessity, Great Britain turned to the forests of its North American colonies. Edward Winslow benefited from the increased demand on New Brunswick timber, and in 1806 was appointed deputy surveyor of the King's woods. As a result of this appointment, the rise of the New Brunswick timber industry is well-documented in Winslow's papers, as a 3 August 1809 letter to his son makes clear: "The interruption of the Baltic trade & other causes have occasioned a most extraordinary demand for ton timber."1 Soon, timber became the primary industry of New Brunswick. A 23 July 1809 letter from Captain Hatch to Edward Winslow stresses the ongoing importance of forestry to the people of Charlotte County, where "seventeen-twentieths of the male population of this County are what is termed here 'Lumbermen' and were employed in procuring this large quantity of timber."2

The increasing importance and profitability of the timber industry brought instances of illegal wood-cutting to Winslow's attention. On 8 May 1810, John Henderson, Deputy Surveyor of the King's Woods, wrote to Winslow informing him of illegal timber-cutting on the Miramichi. According to Henderson, John Arbeau had "cut and Manufactured about 200 tuns of read pine and more and all lyes now at his own house and all cut on the reserve and ungranted lands and with out any contract for government or permit."3 Illegal cutting was not just confined to the Miramichi area. The colonial government also seized timber in Charlotte and Westmoreland counties, as letters from Ward Chipman Jr. to Edward Winslow make abundantly clear.4

Corey Slumkoski
University of New Brunswick


1. Letter from Edward Winslow to Edward Winslow Jr., 3 August 1809, Winslow Family Papers, Volume 15-20. Back

2. Letter from Captain Hatch to Edward Winslow, 23 July 1809, Winslow Family Papers, Volume 15-9. Back

3. Letter from John Henderson to Edward Winslow, 8 May 1810, Winslow Family Papers, Volume 15-42. Back

4. See Letter from Ward Chipman Jr. to Edward Winslow, 13 December 1809, Winslow Family Papers, Volume 15-26; and Letter from Ward Chipman Jr. to Edward Winslow, 23 January 1810, Winslow Family Papers, Volume 15-33. Back

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