Stephen Duncanson (back row, far right) wearing a leather apron, owner of the Hants Border sawmill with his 18-man crew. Notice the two men (back row, 3rd from left and front row, 2nd from right) wearing a padded protector on their left shoulder. This indicates their job as deal pilers. The photos were taken about 1901.
In the 1901 Census of Canada, Stephen Duncanson gave his occupation as farmer. In 1911 his occupation is listed as engineer and in 1935, at the time of his death, his occupation is given as merchant – groceries. He purchased the 10 acre property in 1879 from William Beckwith.2
Interior view of Duncanson’s Hants Border Mill shows six of the crew: left, the setter and dogger riding the log carriage, centre, the sawyer ‘in his stylish cardigan jacket’ and behind him the cantor and, far right, two boys easing logs off the mechanized haul-up onto the log deck. Power is being transmitted up to the saw floor by belts and pulleys from a power source on a lower level, either a turbine waterwheel or a steam boiler and engine.1
This view shows the rest of the saw floor and eleven more of the crew: left front, the saw filer (sharpener) ‘a full-time job in a busy sawmill’, centre front, the edgerman in leather apron feeding the cut board to the edger, the machine that removes the bark from the edges of the board. In the middle, at a distance and on the right, is the worker responsible for moving the edged board along to the employees pictured at the back. These would include the trimmermen, lumber pilers and sorters and other workers.1
In 1945 the heirs of the estate of Stephen Duncanson sold the property to John Oickle, millwright of Melanson, Kings County.3 John Oickle together with his wife Jessie (Scofield) operated Oickle’s Grocery Store for 46 years.
Acknowledgement: The Society would like to thank Roy Duncan of Lockhartville for bringing this story to our attention.
- “Sawpower – Making Lumber in the Sawmills of Nova Scotia”, Barbara R. Robertson. Nimbus Publishing Limited and The Nova Scotia Museum. Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1986.
- Kings County Registry of Deeds, Book 42, Page 302, 1879. William Beckwith to Stephen Duncanson
- Kings County Registry of Deeds, Book 169, Page 19, 1945. Estate of Stephen Duncanson to John Oickle
- Maritime Museum of the Atlantic 2021
- Family of Lottie (Duncanson) Huntley