Atlantic Forestry May 2019

Spray skeptic
AFR: Thank you for the focus of your editorial in the last AFR (Mar.-Apr.) on glyphosate spraying (“A word or two: Science and the beast,” by David Palmer, page 5). It does seem like nobody’s opinion is swayed by facts anymore, so I won’t quote any from the Stop Spraying New Brunswick website. It’s true that glyphosate has indeed been approved by Health Canada; but I understand Health Canada didn’t do any research of its own on the product but piggybacked on the approval of the U.S. regulatory agency. And the FDA is unfortunately no longer known as an independent scientific regulator.

As one of those 35,000 people who signed the New Brunswick petition banning its use on Crown lands, I do have concerns about the safety of the product. In addition to the WHO’s “probable carcinogen” designation, a California groundskeeper has recently won a court case against Bayer/Monsanto, citing that Roundup and Ranger Pro products caused his cancer. And no, I wouldn’t mind lemon juice sprayed, but that would be as much a waste of money as the $40,000 per month given to the former ambassador to promote New Brunswick’s forestry sector.

Every hunting season there are warnings not to eat the organ meats of deer and moose; why would that be if not for the accumulation of carcinogens in the liver and kidneys? Why are there signs not to pick blueberries in the sprayed woods? If we have learned anything in the age of industry spin, it is to use the precautionary principle when considering product safety. I remember J.D. Irving editorials that praised malathion as perfectly safe to spray for the budworm, until it was actually found to be a carcinogen. Too bad and too late.

Stephanie Coburn

Head of Millstream, N.B.
AFR: I am asking that one and all do a satellite trip across some of our forests, on Crown land as well as corporate lands, and look at all the clearcuts. It is sure scary how close the cuts are together. How much longer before we hit the bottom in the forest industry?

Charles Jess
Yarmouth, N.S.

Stymied by steam engine
AFR: In 1950, I obtained a year’s leave of absence to cruise and re-survey the holdings of Riversdale Lumber Ltd. (in Truro). One of their lots was located in the interior of Colchester County, between Tatamagouche and Belmont. While trying to retrace the very dim boundary line, south of Cooks Lake, I was surprised to find an old steam-powered engine with concave wheels, obviously for riding on poles. According to the size of the trees growing very close to it, it had been there for a very long time. The engine was not in the company limits, but perhaps within 100 feet.

I did not take time to examine it closely, but was interested enough to record it on the maps that I prepared. (Not likely that a copy can be found today.) The land may now be Crown land. I was unfamiliar with that area prior to the cruise, and I have never been back, so my knowledge of the area is limited.

In recent years, my daughter obtained some interesting information regarding pole railways from the Colchester County Historical Society. They published Historic Colchester: Towns & Countryside. Amos Hill and Heady Corbett found a flour-like mineral in the bottom of a lake near Castlereagh. It was found to be a mineral of commercial value, called silica, used to make an opaque sheet of highly heat-resistant (material), used in stove windows.

The lake became known as Silica Lake. Lacking the funds to develop a mining company, they sold their interests to American investor(s), with Mr. P.S. Collins as GM. He established a processing plant at Castlereagh, and a whole community formed around it. The refined product was shipped in 100-lb. bags by way of a co-owned steam-powered pole railway to the wharf at Bass River. This line largely followed the west side of the Bass River. The inaugural run was made on June 28, 1895. The engine and cars were made by the Oxford Foundry. (Other pole railways were built by other companies, such as Rod Engineering of Amherst and Rhodes Curry of Amherst.)

They warehoused the silica at Bass River, at Saints Rest. The railway was designed by Alexander MacPherson, and had a steam boiler in the middle, with cars attached to either end, having an eight-hour trip. The flour was then shipped to Boston by ship. The parent investors formed the Fossil Flour Co., and the railway was called the Fossil Flour Railway Co.

At about the time of my find, I was president of the newly-formed Nova Scotia Forestry Technicians Association. I considered trying to convince the association to salvage the engine and donate it to a museum. However, when I discovered that it may not be part of early logging, I chose not to pursue it.

Not being from the area, and with no suitable maps available to me, it leaves me at a disadvantage. I believe that the pole railway to Castlereagh passed south of my find. The literature at hand does not indicate any other source of mineral. It seems that someone has mentioned to me previously that they actually mined more than one lake. Was my found engine from a former logging operation? Or was it in a spur-line to Cooks Lake? I have tried to obtain a map of the rail system, but uncovered nothing more than mentioned here. I doubt that the scrap value would warrant its removal, and it doesn’t appear to be in a museum.

C’mon readers, let’s learn the rest of the story!

Les Corkum
Falmouth, N.S.