Letter from Ed Fiander to the Chairs of
the Round Tables, July 14, 1998
Parry Sound Ontario
1 3Boreal East Round Table
Ontario Government Complex
P.O. Bag 3020, Hwy 101 East
South Porcupine, Ontario
Attention: Bettyanne Thib-Jelly, Chair
I wish to submit my thoughts and comments for consideration to you
and your fellow Round Table members.
First of all, I would like to let you know who I am and where I am
coming from. My submission is solely my personal opinions as an
extremely interested party to the Lands for Life discussions. I am
retired and do not hold membership with any of the participating
organizations making submissions to your forum.
I was born in South Porcupine during its gold rush heyday. As I am
told even the doctor, prior to delivering me, was actively
participating with that day's current strike announcement. My parents
left for the Sudbury area while I was yet a baby. I have returned to
the town on more than one occasion and also visited when I had my
family residing in Chapleau some years later.
My grandfather was one of those lumber barons of the Spanish River
watershed with also a number of sawmills along the CNR line from
mileage 96 «, Tionaga, mileage 112 and Foleyet. The company's
operations eventually expanded on to Peterbell. So this was our
family's playground as children. The first time I entered a sawmill
would have been when I was about eight years old. I still remember
the man who had to ride the carriage as steam cylinders rammed him
back and forth as the sawyer made his log cuts. A very bizarre ride
for any person, especially since this was every day for more than ten
hours a day. However, when I reached the age of 16, I also started
working in the sawmills and did almost all jobs except that of
Sawyer. I enjoyed being there.
After I completing my schooling I returned to working for the family
company, living and working in Peterbell and on Lake Missinaibie.
Unfortunately, my proposed bride would not live in such remoteness,
so after some time left the logging industry, but not the
countryside. My work with the telephone company took me back to the
Chapleau area. At this time I regularly walked, drove and flew
throughout the area and into communities of Kormack, Sultan, Ramsey,
Jerome Biscotasing Gogama, Foleyet, Renabie Mines, Missinaibie,
Dalton and many remote mining camps and tourist operators in these
areas. I was there in Foleyet when the town burned except the Hudson
Bay Store or the telephone office and marveled at the audacity and
tremendous energy with those amateur fire fighters.
I have been in mining, logging and sawmill camps at their best and at
their worst. I have sat at the table and slept in the bunkhouse of
the worst mining camp imaginable, because there was nothing else
there. By the way the food was very reminiscent of what the Cour de
Bois must have eaten in the 17th century. Pure lard and repugnant
vegetables, if served. I also, have sat down in more than one logging
cookery and served a steak cooked equal to the best restaurant in
Montreal or Toronto. Also during my time working in the various
sawmills, my sleeping accommodation was most often with six or seven
other men, each of whom had bed space and about 2 feet before the
foot of the next bed.
I have witnessed the changes in technology in the forest harvesting.
When I was learning to scale, everyone worked in pairs, one cutting,
limbing and the other skidding. The skidders used a horse to haul the
logs to the skid pile. Later I watched the first tree harvester,
imported from the States, limb and cut tree length logs. An
articulated skidder then lifted this long log onto a tractor-trailor
unit. The impact of this combined activity meant that; 1) the local
sawmill was abandoned in favour of the larger centralized mill, and
2) an intense maze of roads was created to allow truckers access to
the tree harvester. Approximately sixty men lost their jobs because
of this one aspect of mechanization at that campsite and I lost a
place to eat terrific steak.
Recently I listened and watched the newest version of this ancient
tree harvester. Where the original was a slow gargantuan monster,
that needed repairs more often than not, the new version is extremely
agile, highly mobile and appears to have a greater degree of
reliability. However, this new machine appears to sound no less
noisier than its predecessor. What I really found awe-inspiring, was
the rate this machine was able to harvest an area clear of trees.
The total amount taken when I was working in the forest would require
a strenuous month's work to harvest what this machine accomplished in
days. Just this one machine and operator was able to harvest what
originally took at least forty teams to comlete and in a such a short
time. What it left behind was a dramatically naked earth.
As I was growing up, I had conversations with my grandfather and
uncles about why they harvested trees in the way they did. Sometimes
they cleared long strips of ground about 300 yards wide or sometimes
did selective cutting. Now all I see is clearings of immense
proportions. As far as the eye can see is barren desolation. An
impact that was made dramatically clear last summer in an area south
of Biscotasing. What I saw there was the domino effects of clear
cutting. When the earth is stripped bare and erosion is making its
impact on the terrain. In the distance a bulldozer was busy plowing
more of the top soil for some unknown reason.
During my various sojourns into the backwoods over the years, I have
found on more than one occasion, mining exploration sites in the
middle of nowhere with racks and racks of drill core samples. Some of
these sites were so old that the wooden racks had decayed and were
collapsing. The other obvious situation, was the site's condition, or
shall I say the consistent poor housekeeping and the abundance of
debris left behind. The worst site I encountered was at a place north
of Sultan where a collection of 45 gal. drums which originally held
lubricating oil and kerosene was left. When I found them, these drums
had rusted out and the surrounding terrain was obviously contaminated
from the leakage. This however, is no worse than what I have seen on
the CPR line between Pogamasing and Metagama. In an area where the
tracks parallel the river, the crews laid new sidings and placed
automated switches on the river bank, sometimes as close as twenty
feet from the water's edge. Then the maintenance crews follow, taking
particular pride at applying large amounts of grease to the new
switching gear. When finished, they left the 20 lb. grease pails
behind along with full green garbage bags and a tremendous number of
plastic water containers. Who now is stopping this grease from
leaching into this water system? Who is responsible to think and
apply some common sense towards our environment?
I still walk and canoe throughout this wonderful land regularly. I
acknowledge people must earn a living.
My desire is to see some creative thinking be applied ensuring mutual
respect and responsibility. As a species on this planet, we are all
individuals with extremely differing views. We must, therefore,
consider the land first and everything that lives there. Since we are
the dominant species, we must apply consistent rules and definitions
to prevent the visible small minority from making their arbitrary and
potentially destructive decisions.
That is role I see this forum trying to accomplish for the public
lands of Ontario.
An unbelievable thankless task, but full of boundless rewards for our
The point that I wish to make is that this land throughout the
province can be shared for everyone. With sharing, respect and
responsibility must be applied. Greed, avarice, intolerance and
irresponsibility do not have a place in this forum.
That is the conditions your group must grapple with. No matter how
public land uses are identified and designated, the simple act of
putting people into restrictive pigeon holes automatically creates
conflicts. The primary important effort must be focused on educating
the users and encouraging cross pollination of concerns and issues.
This has, historically, been ignored or selectively performed at
I would like to present two extremes of expectations and thinking by
current users as an impact study for your consideration.
First, there is the animal harvesters or commonly called "trappers".
During my youth, beavers were not often visible and when the dams
inconvenienced us humans, they were ripped out even though it was
illegal to do so at that time. No one was around so it did happen,
anyway and often. Beginning in the late fifties both the "Lands and
Forest" (MNR) and the trapping industry finally began to talk to each
other. At first the discussions were very antagonistic and later
became constructive. Mutual rules were imposed. Education was
strictly enforced and today the industry can support a recognized
number of members. Yes, people were pushed out at the beginning or
died along the way, but the incredible vast majority of those still
in the industry are active responsible conservators of this great
Second, the snowmobile trail users.
I grew up and used this beast as a tool for traveling to inaccessible
places so that I could earn a living. No one at that time would ever
go anywhere without taking snowshoes along. These were as much part
of the safety equipment as spare gas. Today I do not see anyone
equipped with them and I suspect the vast majority of snowmobilers do
not even own a pair of snowshoes. The snowmobiler's response, I
expect would be, "We stay on our trails". I don't think so.
Let us use some death statistics that occurred this past winter and
the events surrounding most of these occasions.
Five deaths occurred within one week on the same body of water. All
went through the ice and drowned. Not a trail.
Also the police were totally astounded at the obvious lack of concern
by so many other snowmobilers traveling past the search site and
other existing open water.
Two other examples of individuals dying.
a) A young man traveling along a trail, crested over a hill and
became airborne. Both the snowmobile and driver struck a tree at a
point about ten feet off the ground.
b) A boyfriend watched his girl die in an open field. She was in her
twenties and her first time solo on a snowmobile. For some reason,
the machine caught in gear unexpectedly and accelerated very rapidly.
The lady panicked and lost control. The machine struck a fence post
and exploded, incinerating the machine and her before anyone could
A near miss fatality.
An OPP officer was patrolling along a remote trail when he heard an
oncoming snowmobile. The officer pulled towards the edge of the trail
just as the snowmobiler went by him. The oncoming snowmobiler was on
the far side of a rock outcropping and when he came off the top of
the hill, the officer, sitting on his machine, was looking up at the
other machine's undercarriage, too close to his head for comfort. It
cost the offender something like $300 for flying.
Around the community here in Parry Sound, a possible minority of
snowmobilers are continually breaking new ground in their travels.
Frequently this means trespassing on private property, destroying
fences and on occasion removing full grown trees to improve their
right of access. The town also, recognized the danger of snowmobilers
using the local sidewalks as a trail, so they enacted a by-law with a
fine of $1000.00. This is consistently ignored.
I am not trying to single out the snowmobilers and their related
activities. What I am trying to illustrate is that for any given
unmonitored and unrestricted single user access breeds misuse.
Unfortunately, this is human nature and from this type of thinking
stems activities which tend to be manipulative and destructive.
The obvious visible mindset of both group types speaks volumes about
their attitudes, understanding and responsibility towards the
surroundings and activities. The ability to effectively self-regulate
/ police the people (users) begs many questions.
Responsible shared uses of public lands is the ideal option, totally
open to appreciation and also to criticism.
Now is the time to impose standards of conduct and rules for managing
by all the various public land users
Now is the time to define and apply a critical standard of education
for each of these various land users
Now is the time for all users to irrevocably recognize the
environment is the critical element and not interests of one user
Now is the time to preserve the ecological balance throughout this
land regardless how large or how small those characteristics are.
Now is the time to eliminate the conflicts between majority of the
population and an extremely small minority who tend to ignore other's
interests and their own responsibilities or respect for this part of
Now is the time to recognize that all of us have equal and clear
rights to share in the use of this land
Now is the time to recognize that no one, not one single individual,
has the right to leave the quality of the environment less than how
it was found
If these conditions are not acceptable to each of the user types in
these public lands, then they should leave, forcibly or otherwise.
Many responsible organizations, companies or individuals would be
only to pleased to take their place.
This would mean for example
- cutting rights lost
- exploration and mining rights revoked
in tourist outfitters
- removal of remote camp sites and access
in motorized trail users
- trail access rights removed
in low impact uses - minimum safety education skills and fines
These rules should be inclusive for the corporate shareholders,
senior executives, major stakeholders and public land users.
I was not in agreement with the actions of the "Temagami Wilderness
Society" at Lady Evelyn in the late 1980's. Now I am thankful and
recognize how important these events were. Unfortunately, the
negative side of that issue becomes a "North" against the "South"
conflict. The South is constantly being crucified because they don't
understand what it is like to live in the "north". That may be true,
but what is more significant is the fact that those people in the
"South" are the vast majority of users of our wilderness for their
recreational activities. We, up here, would never expend the energy
or the dollars that those from the south do to enjoy what we have. I
perceive that this is a case of the dog biting the hand that feeds
it. They, more often than us, truly see the forest and the
environment better than us looking at the woods. We have to learn to
trust everyone's ideas. Everyone has valid thoughts as I suspect the
Round Table has had the opportunity to learn over and over.
I firmly believe the Society's actions created a positive action plan
for all. I do not want a forest which lacks white or red pine. They
must be the most gorgeous tree in all this land, so majestic and
reaching out. The reforestation practices today are neglecting them
and creating a forest of single specie silvaculture. We are losing
these magnificent trees without any real plan for their replacement.
This planned forestry management action is condoned by the government
to aid the corporations to realize a return on investment in less
than 20 years. This is patently wrong. If the harvesting of our
beautiful pines continue at current rates, then I expect both species
will be extinct in my lifetime.
God did not create just one person and then consistently copy us. We
are unique and equally important. Therefore, the preservation of all
species deserve equal treatment in our environment. If we are the
stewards of this land and environment, then we must take the
responsibility for our actions.
I thank you for persevering with this somewhat long epistle, but I
feel strongly about this beautiful land. I want to continue sharing
it and be able to show my grandchildren its' unique majesty and
50 Waubeek Street
Parry Sound, Ontario
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