Old-fashioned sawmill coming to Jarvie
Two residents pay tribute to hamlet's past
Westlock has its giant weathervane, Vegreville has its giant Easter egg and St. Paul has its giant UFO landing pad. But what about Jarvie?
That is the question Jarvie-area residents Jim Turnbull and Brian Gray asked themselves in the summer of 2010. Two years later, they’re in the process of installing a tribute to their community’s roots.
“We got to thinking that Jarvie should have something to identify it,” Gray said. “Jarvie doesn’t have anything, so we thought a sawmill.”
The two men, along with a small work crew of local volunteers, were busy working on the project last Monday afternoon.
The sawmill, while still in the construction phase, can be seen immediately upon entering the hamlet from Highway 44.
A sawmill seemed to be a fitting tribute to the community’s history; other than agriculture, logging was the biggest industry in early days of Jarvie.
Most notably Cushings Mill employed hundreds of people, directly or indirectly, all along the Pembina River.
“In the beginning, Jarvie had one of the biggest mills around,” Gray said. “We thought we’d try to replicate it as close as we could.”
Felled trees from all the way up the Pembina River would be put in the water and floated down to Jarvie. A huge steam jackleg would then pull the logs up the bank of the river to the mill.
Turnbull said that once the two had hatched their plan replicate the sawmill near the hamlet’s entrance, things started to gather momentum and fall into place.
While the original Cushings Mill is long gone, the two men were able to secure a hand-built mill from a man in the Fawcett area, which was built by Jasper Thornton.
“We told him what we were doing, and he said he had an old mill in the yard,” Turnbull said.
The help from the community didn’t end there.
“We have had lots of guys from the community jump in and volunteer,” he said.
The two have had some help from some local businesses, as well, with a local wood supplier providing some of the building materials and a tractor parts company helping with some of the machinery.
The two said they had no definitive timeline for completing the project, but after a flurry of activity last Monday afternoon the structure is several steps closer.
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