"Dore Lake...contains some of our richest remaining stands of white spruce
saw timber and a large tract of very rich potential commercial forest.
This is without question one of the richest blocks.
of forest land in the province."
Mr. T. Davidson.
Department of Forestry, 1951.
In 1947, the Department of Forestry made a major reconnaissance of the Dore Lake area. The timber survey described the many blocks of white spruce and jack pine. The areas supporting the white spruce saw timber, were found in small islands throughout the bush. These islands of spruce resulted from a former forest fire. Dore Lake also has a few hardwoods, some balsam fir, and a large number of aspen and white birch.
The oldest blocks of timber were found in the East Bay area, showing trees of approximately one hundred eighty-six years old. This particular block of old trees covers an area of about one hundred nineteen square miles. Another area of rich timber was located on Spruce Point. The survey concluded that Dore Lake timber was excellent for sawlog material, because of it's height and slow taper.
The first timber operation was established in 1919, on Dore Lake Island (Camp Four, Geir's Island) by Big River Consolidated Fisheries. The purpose of the mill was to make lumber, which was used in the construction of fish boxes. The Company packed the boxes with freshly caught Dore Lake fish, then freighted them of to Big River. The timber that supplied the mill was cut in the area of Murray's Point. A boarding home was erected adjacent to the mill to house the mill workers. Florence Olsen resided on Dore Lake Island as a young girl and remembers the mill as being a fair size, employing twelve to sixteen men. Jack Rae was the mill foreman and boarding house operator, and Mrs Blanchette cooked at the boarding house. Jack Tapie was the blacksmith and maintained the sawmill machinery. In 1924, the mill was dismantled and moved to the south end of Stoney Lake (Delaronde Lake).
According to historical records, there were no known timber operations during the 1930s at Dore Lake.
It was not until the 1940s, that timber companies and private entrepreneurs, began to exploit Dore Lake's virtually untouched wilderness country.
In 1944, Waite's Fisheries of Big River, constructed a sawmill on Murry's Point, to produce lumber to make fish boxes. The mill employed approximately twelve to eighteen men. Andrew Snell and Erick Viden were in charge of the mill operation. The trees were felled during the winter and hauled to the mill by horse and there decked on the ice. They were sawn into lumber during the summer months. Waite's logged approximately three miles west of the mill.
A government inspection made of this mill in August of 1947, indicated that it was a neat and efficient set-up. The mill consisted of a case boiler, which supplied power for the main mill, as well as a steam for two other engines. The inspection report describes the mill further:
"The carriage and hush is a P.A. and has a three saw adjustable edger. A jack ladder is used. The mill is equipped with a Leach Circular re-saw and a McGregor Courley Planer, used in connection with fish box productions. The mill is fully enclosed. Smokestack is screened and roof of the mill is covered with corrugated metal".
The annual cut of the mill was estimated at 125m C.B.F. in 1947. The setup of this mill could have handled more than this annual capacity. However, Waite's only took what lumber it needed for fish boxes.
In 1949, the government put a high stumpage fee on trees that were to be logged. It became impractical and uneconomical to continue Waite's mill operation, therefore it was dismantled.
A second timber outfit was owned and operated by Verner Johnson in 1946 - 1947. His logging camp was situated at Spruce Point. He hauled the logs by cat swing and truck to a sawmill located at South Bay. The sawmill was operated by Anderson and Joseph Lumber Company. They operated with an ordinary circular sawmill set-up. The company delivered its lumber to Big River by truck. The mill was dismantled in 1948.
A third timber outfit was established in 1947, by Wills Bros. of New Osgoode, Saskatchewan, at the East Bay of Dore Lake. In 1948, Wills Bros. was permitted to log 5,000,000 FBM in the East Bay area. The timber was sawn in a high utilization mill and shipped to Big River.
Records indicate that there were no timber operations at Dore Lake during the 1950s.
During the 1960s, Bill Chelafuer and Carl Grandberg logged in the Whelen's Bay area. Alonzo Gallant and Nels Edson logged in the Tower Beach area. and Landon Reid operated in the Smith's Bay area. The Saskatchewan Timber Board had a sawmill established on Big Island to saw birch logs into lumber.
During the early 1970s, Louis Regan logged at Whelan's Bay, and Max Wilson had an operation established at Tower Beach. All timber from these operations was shipped by truck to the Big River sawmill.
Waite's Fisheries sawmill at Murry's Point.
Logging on Big Island.
Big River Consolidated Fisheries sawmill workers (1919 - 1924
standing in front of the mill, on Dore Lake Island.
Verner Johnson's timber outfit hauling logs from
Spruce Point to the mill at South End (1948).