Hawk Lake Log Chute
Interpretive Kiosk Online | History of the Chute
Can't visit the site? These pages are copies of what's at the on-site kiosk
A log chute is a man-made trough that was used to carry logs over rough river landscape to a sawmill. The concept of the log chute was developed in Canada in 1829 to circumnavigate the Chaudiere Falls in Quebec.
There used to be thousands of chutes around the province and dozens in the county of Haliburton, but they're all gone now, having fallen victim to time and progress. Some rotted into the landscape; others were deliberately dismantled, burned or replaced with concrete, such as the log chute at Buttermilk Falls which is now only a concrete retaining wall to direct the flow of water.
Log chutes were built by the logging companies that held the cutting rights in the area where the chute was required. When a logging company performed its annual inspection of roads and camps in preparation for the next season, workers would also inspect and repair log chutes. Repairs were made with whatever kind of wood was handy, sturdy, and not valuable. At this chute maple, beech and hemlock were commonly used for repairs.
Log chutes were always attached to dams that were also built by the logging companies. These dams, built of timber crib construction, held back the water until the spring log drives when thousands of logs would be flushed downstream in a mighty torrent.
A log chute was first built here in 1861 and was used regularly until the 1930s by a variety of logging companies that logged the lands around the Hawk, Kennisis, Trout, Crab, Cat and Paint Lakes.
This chute was rebuilt in 1947/48 and underwent extensive repair in the mid 1970s under a federally-funded Winter Works Project. The latest project was started in 1999 and completed in the early 2005. Complete project photos are available at our on-line Photo Gallery.
To maintain the dams and check on water levels at Hawk, Kennisis, Trout, Crab, Cat and Paint Lakes required the services of a “damkeeper”.
Travelling by canoe, this man would paddle his circuit and report back the status of structures and levels to the federal government. Big Hawk Road did not exist in the damkeeper’s days, forcing him to travel overland to the waterways.
In 1908 the government built a house for the damkeeper in the bay at the end of this road. By the 1940s it was no longer needed and it was sold for $300. It remains a private home today.