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Transcript transcription

At the turn of the 19th century, the population of the Lower St-Lawrence is fluctuating. The Indigenous population has dropped from 20,000 to a few thousands since the first contacts with European settlers. On the other hand, the number of settlers grows from 1,250 to 10,000 in just 40 years.

The settlers, who continue to grow in number, subsist on agriculture. They maintain trade with the Indigenous peoples and increase the exploitation of forest timber.

Lumber camps, run by large logging companies, come to life during the winter. In each camp, a brigade of about ten men must produce about 2000 logs during the season. The trees are sawed with a two-man crosscut saw, known as a “misery whip” and then debarked.

The need for wood is high in the colony. The local demand must first be met, followed by the demand of the United Kingdom, as Napoleon's blockade forces the UK to turn to its American colonies to meet its needs for construction timber.

In the spring, thousands of logs are thrown into the rivers to be rafted. The log drivers follow the logs as they float downstream and make sure that nothing blocks their descent.

Once the logs reach the mouth of the river, they are transported to the sawmill. Powered by the current, the gears drive the saws that turn the logs into lumber.

The log drive and forestry work put pressure on the Indigenous peoples' livelihoods. Some hunt to supply the logging camps, others engage in various paid jobs.

Now, in the colony, Indigenous peoples and Canadians are increasingly working together. At times, they even unite through marriage. A few mixed unions are recorded in the Lower St. Lawrence.

The Indigenous peoples, who have been converted to Christianity for several generations, get married to respect this sacrament of the Catholic Church. Each town and village erect its own chapel and welcomes a priest who oversees the religion.

When there are enough faithful to erect a parish, the whole community participates in the construction of its church, a symbol of the Catholic faith and the heart of community life.