Canadian Forestry Corps in the local woods

Last week I went to a very interesting talk about the Canadian Forestry Corps in the Highlands of Scotland. I was interested to learn more about this as the CFC worked locally – both here at Kiltarlity and where I work at Glenmore.

The Canadian Forestry Corps. was composed of professional woodsmen and was first organized during World War One at the request of the UK to help meet Britain’s timber needs during the war. It was re-formed in World War Two to play the same role. Most of its activities were centred in the Highlands of Scotland during the latter conflict. There were 33 camps scattered in north-eastern Scotland.

Last winter I had taken a walk to a local former sawmill and accommodation block in the forest, which housed some of the CFC. I first explored this building about 20 years ago when it was much more intact than it is now. The track along to it is very overgrown now and I had to cross a old wooden bridge with a sign saying “Danger Do not Cross”. As the bridge was pretty much covered in snow it was a wee bit tricky to see where the holes were and where the planks were still intact, but I reckoned that if the worst came to the worst and I fell through it wouldn’t be a big fall and it was only a wee burn.

Teanacoil sawmill

Records of the local camps are patchy and for the one closest to the village is further muddled by the fact it is known by 3 different names. The official war record name is “Lovat No 1, Teanacoil” – there was also a Lovat No 2. Following the war it was passed to the Polish Resettlement Corps and became known as the Poles Camp and/or Paterson’s Camp as it became a sawmill run by a Polish gentleman who took his wife’s surname. Unfortunately they are no photos of what it looked like during the war.

Teanacoil sawmill

In some places the work camps were set up ready to receive the forestry workers, but in others one of the first tasks for the CFC was to build their accommodation block and sawmill. They’d use a mobile sawmill to obtain the timber for the building projects.

Teanacoil sawmill

These were built rapidly and as temporary structures – as were the timber mills – and as concrete was in short supply, they were mainly built from wood with no foundations. This means there is very little evidence of these in the woods now. Being constructed of thin timber construction, the accommodation must have been cold in winter.

Teanacoil sawmill

In addition to meeting its primary objective the Canadian Forestry Corps’ presence in Scotland was influential in other ways: as a defensive element in the earlier years and as a social factor in many smaller communities. It was common practice for the forestry workers to pilfer some of the vehicle fuel ration to give to the local taxis in exchange to a lift to the village to the bar and dances.

Other structures which were associated with the CFC were narrow gauge railways and aerial ropeways or Blondins which were used to transport the cut logs. Locally it is known that several narrow gauge railways transported the timber from the forest to sawmills in Beauly and the mainline railway station at Beauly. From here it went south to be used for pit props and for ammunition boxes, buildings and props for the trenches during WW1. There is an archaeology group currently working in the woods hoping to trace the line of some of these railways.

One of the local guys at the meeting I attended remembered the camps. He spoke about him and friends playing on the zip-lines and the railways wagons when the forestry workers were off duty.

It is known that a number of LumberJills worked in the camps in the Highlands of Scotland. They were mainly involved in measuring the timber as the landowners were paid for the timber removed from their land.

Follow Up - I returned to Teanacoil Camp the following week and explored inside what is left of the building to take more photographs. Canadian Forestry camp revisited

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29 comments on “Canadian Forestry Corps in the local woods

  1. The work of the Canadian Forestry Corps is not well known here in Scotland. When I posted a photo and information on Flickr recently, one of my contacts has told me about evidence of one of the CFC companies who were posted near where he lives. He knows the location of a couple of railway trucks hidden deep in the woods and once he has checked they are still there (he hasn’t been for years) he suggests we go on a photo shoot.

    • can you please keep us informed of any findings? Do u know if there are any listings of the canadian men that were there?
      My grandfather may have been stationed there, all we have is a telegram from scotland, a military picture and his wedding picture, absolutely no info otherwise.
      Any info would be appreciated.

      • Hi Angela
        I have been researching the Canadian Forestry Corps for a number of years
        Started with my grandfather in the 28th Coy
        I have folders on each of the companies plus folders on about 1400 men
        with degrees of info and photos
        e-mail me at rj.gonefishing@shaw.ca
        Would enjoy working with you on this project
        Bob Briggs

  2. Hi, very interesting blog – I just wondered who’s talk you attended who spoke about the CFC? Your help would be much appreciated as I am writing my PhD on the archaeology of the CFC, where about’s are the photos taken?

    • The talk was given by Alasdair Cameron – a local guy, I think. It was part of a series of talks about local history run by Boblainy Forest Archaeology project (run by Highland Council archaeologist). The CFC camp I visited is in Boblainy Forest, Kiltarlity near Inverness. If you click on the photos in this and the next post the photos will open in Flickr and show the location on a map.

  3. I am looking for information of the 110th company of the Canadian Forestry Corps who was situated at Abernethy Forest, Nethy Bridge. Can anyone help. I particularly wish to know about any Swedes who were in that company and if there is a record of names and photographs.

    Joycenairn@yahoo.co.uk

    • Hello Joyce, I’m afraid I don’t have any knowledge of the CFC Camps at Abernethy. I shall get back to you if I can find out any information from local contacts.

      • Hi Walter
        E-mail me if you wish any other information other than this
        at rj.gonefishing@shaw.ca

        No. 7 Company, Canadian Forestry Corps
        District 2, Camp 14, Highwood (Feabuie), Culloden

        Canadian Mobilization Point – Victoria, BC
        Mobilization Date –14 Aug 1940
        Arrived in Scotland – 1 Mar 1941
        Ceased Operations in Scotland – 7 Oct 1943
        Camps Occupied in Scotland – Highwood (Feabuie), Culloden

        Cheers
        Bob Briggs

  4. http://www.nethybridge.com/history/details.php?page_number=246

    20th Company, Canadian Forestry Corp
    Canadian Mobilization Point – Saskatoon, Sask
    Mobilization Date – 2 Oct 1940
    Arrived in Scotland – 2 Jul 1941
    Ceased Operations in Scotland – 21 Mar 1945
    Camps Occupied in Scotland
    (relocation dates indicated) – Torwood, Kincraig; Nethybridge, (12 Jun 42)

    Of the 30 Companies 10 would go onto the mainland, 10 would stay in Scotland and 10 returned to Canada to cut fuelwood

    If you have any questions on the Companies of the Canadian Forestry Corps WW2

  5. No. 18 Company, Canadian Forestry Corps
    District 5, Camp 10, Lovat No. 1 (Teanacoil), Kiltarity

    Canadian Mobilization Point – Victoria, BC
    Mobilization Date –Aug 1940
    Arrived in Scotland – 20 Apr 1941
    Ceased Operations in Scotland – 26 May 1945
    Camps Occupied in Scotland – Lovat No. 1 (Teanacoil), Kiltarity

    Robert J Briggs
    e-mail rj.gonefishing@shaw.ca

  6. i read the entries here with some interest, hoping to see a mention of the 19th Company of the Canadian Forestry Corps…as we have a group picture of my dad and his compadres….under the picture, it says: “19th Company Canadian Forestry Corps”.

    my dad mentioned the Ardennes, the Battle of the Bulge, Arnhem, Belgium, Holland and Germany…but wasn’t too specific about anything much…don’t think he wanted to remember, as he had PTSD, and probably preferred to forget it all whenever possible….

    i have so far been unable to find anything on line about the 19th Companay CFC….which is frustrating…i wrote an article about what i understand my father’s role to have been as far as i remember his relation of it at the Digital Journal. Here’s the link:
    http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/314377

  7. Hello,
    Thank you for going to the site and posting the photographs. I appreciate it.
    I recently received my Grandfather’s Canadian military records and I confirm that he was in the Lovat No. 2, #15 Company, 2nd Battalion, D.H.Q. C.F.C.(Canadian Forestry Corps) from April 5, 1941 to June 29, 1944, then he was sent to France. He was a clerk/first aid post at the CFC. I believe that this may have been due to his flat feet. His name was Ken Fitzpatrick.

  8. I would like to find informations about my father who was in the Canadian Foresty Corps in Gourock Scotland from 1941 and 44. I am doing this research for my childrens.

  9. Hello , I am searching for information about my grandfather , Patrick Lawrence Allard. The best i can dig up is he was with # 18 company CFC Corps. I would certainly be glad to recieve more info and any pictures if available. Thanks. Mike. A

  10. Hi I have been searching for many years about info on my grandfather Henry Burke who was in the Canadian Forestry Commision during ww2 based at Mountreatmont near Forfar. I think he went back to America when my mum was about 2 or 3 years old.Everything i try comes to a blank because I am not sure how to go about looking for him,Please help x

  11. My uncle was with 21 coy. Unfortunatly he did not write often . His name was Aurèle Raiche. Fron Tracadie , NB. I do not know how his name was translated in english .
    There is group photo of his company. Perhaps his group was sent to France or Belgium.

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