21 May 2013

The Masts of Hasting County

Our monthly meeting featured a talk by Lloyd Jones on the Masts of Hastings County.

Tacking into an area that would have been topical when European settlers first came to what is now Hastings County, Lloyd discussed the importance of the majestic white pine - the first tree harvested commercially in North America.

He outlined how early colonists realized that North America was full of these massive trees, and started harvesting the pine.  Not without controversy as evidenced by the Pine Tree Riot.

He discussed how the pine logs, up to 120 feet long and 3 feet in diameter were not easy to harvest.  Special crews and techniques were required to fell the trees and special equipment needed to haul the timbers out of the woods to a waterway for their journey to the shipbuilder's yard.

Lloyd touched on events that happened at the start of the 19th century, recounting how Napoleon blockaded wood shipments through the Baltic Sea to Great Britain, forcing the Royal Navy to find alternative supplies of this strategic shipbuilding material.  With the United States allied with the French, supplies from Canada became even more important.

There was also naval action close to home.  The HMS Royal George, shown above with Durham boats in a 2010 painting by Armata, was an example of the ships constucted in Canada to counter the US threat.

Lloyd discussed such famous ships as Nelson's flagship HMS Victory and the Nuestra Señora de la Santísima Trinidad which fought (on opposite sides) at the battle of Trafalgar and concluded with HMS Warrior which, although equipped with steam engines, was ship rigged and had a sail area of 48,400 square feet.

With the coming of the dreadnoughts, the age of wind powered warships and the need for those mighty Ontario pines drew to an end.

Addition information about Lloyd's talk can be read in the June edition of our Newsletter Outlook.

Story and picture Nick White, painting of the Royal George by Armata courtesy of Lloyd Jones

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