Antique lumberjack Saws British Columbia
Image by Christoph Schütz from Pixabay

Antique lumberjack Saws British Columbia

Grades: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

“Lumberjack’s Alphabet, ”** “Once much more A-Lumbering Go, ” “Leather Britches, ” “Johnny Carroll’s Camp”
Recorded: Greenland, MI, October 5, 1938 (**Note, recording missing from LOC Lomax tracks, but a part of E. C. Beck’s Songs associated with Michigan Lumberjacks LP); St. Louis, Michigan, August 22, 1938; Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, August 22, 1938
Performers: Gus Schaffer, Carl Lathrop, Bill McBride

Task 1: Introduction to Lumberjack Ballads and Songs

  1. Instructor provides pupils with historic background on lumberjacks.
    • Michigan had been part of the vast belt of virgin pine that once stretched from Maine and Nova Scotia western to British Columbia. From the mid-1800s through the early 1900s—when the forests had been logged out—lumbering had been among Michigan’s chief professions. During the last three decades associated with nineteenth century hawaii was the nation’s biggest lumber producer.
    • Wherever lumberjacks went they created tracks that commented on their way of living. These tracks traveled together as they relocated from one the main country to another, following the pine woodlands. The names of rivers, camps, also locations changed because the lumberjacks changed places.
    • Lumberjacks sang many different kinds of tracks—Civil War songs, Irish and English ballads, slavery tracks, bawdy bar-room songs—but their particular songs about their life and work tend to be among the most important US work-related ballads (story songs about work).
    • Michigan’s stately tracts of pine were a remote memory once Lomax arrived, desperate to “record what continues to be of when energetic lumberjack tradition.” He discovered numerous the aging process “shanty boys” [lumberjacks] just who remembered ballads and tracks through the lumbering heyday. The vocalists here were all old males by the time they recorded these tracks, singing songs they’d discovered as young men years earlier.
    • This lesson explores three lumberjack tracks plus the fiddle track “Leather Britches” as house windows to the lifetime of the lumberjack.

Task 2: Musical Instruments for the Lumberjacks

  1. This unusual picture of lumberjack performers was drawn in 1900 at Beneway Camp in northeast reduced Michigan. **Although the picture is taken out of doorways, instruments would frequently be played within the lumberjacks’ shanty or bunkhouse.
    Q—exactly what instruments for you see? [fiddle, bones, drum—note the “conductor” keeping a part as a baton!]

Task 3: Contexts for Lumberjack Music-making
Lumberjacks with a big load. Photo through the Detroit Publishing Company range, Library of Congress.