Baisley, Hiram PART 1-11

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                                                      HIRAM BAISLEY
                                                      By Derek Dunn


New at the Napan Fair this summer will be about a dozen models that recreate the early 20th century logging operations. The models are made almost entirely of wood and range from a cook’s scow, to boats, to logging camps and sleds. All were made since January by Maple Glen’s Hiram Baisley. “Thought I’d do it now, because there’s not many of us old fellas left that remember it,” Baisley said. There is a tremendous history for such a small community. Just wonderful.”

Baisley spent his entire life around lumber mills, eventually rising to the level of having entire mills built by his instructions. He has travelled the world building mills. It’s quite an accomplishment for a lad from Wayerton. “I’ve been everywhere. I was in South America, Central America, Mexico, Africa, the Phillippines. Those carvings there,” he said, pointing at the mantel in his home, “They’re from Belize.

I’ve got all kinds of junk in here,” he said.

It’s not really junk, though. It is a wealth of antique furniture, clocks, adorable trinkets, rare photographs, and larger items like an impressive organ and a grand piano. Out back Baisley has lots of old cars, some dating back as far as the 1920s.

One of his favorites among the wooden models he built this year is a cook’s scow, a boat with a flat bottom. Hanging from the walls are numerous pots, pans, mini barrels, even a four-burner iron stove is on board. “They used to float down the NorWest Miramichi (River), bringing corned beef, or pork or bread to the loggers,” he said.

More enjoyment than misery on the river

The giant paddles, called sweepers, often needed three men to control them in rough water. It was wet, messy work at times – cold and dangerous – but the men who worked for companies with names like Fraser, Burchill, Roland Walls, Sam Kingston and Tom Johnson, enjoyed themselves too.

Watching the sun set while floating down the river, the smell of bread cooking in the oven wafting on the breeze – it must have been nice. “I’d say about 75 per cent of the time it was enjoyable and the rest was tough. Especially with the log jams, it could be dangerous,” Baisley said.

Baisley has great admiration for those who worked in the woods. The camps were never locked, he said, even though non-perishables and kindling were left there. “They left them there in case somebody was lost in the woods. And do you know what? Not a thing was ever stolen. Not like nowadays,” Baisley said.

The lumberman’s lingo comes out in Baisley, who refers to a food supply as the dingle and an outhouse as a two-holer.

He calls his home a hill billy’s heaven because of all the projects he has on the go.

In one room is a desk where a clock is under repair. Other clocks are in line waiting patiently. Another room has French provincial-style love seats in need of attention. Baisley has little time for television watching, but doesn’t seem to regret it one bit.

“I’ve got a basement full of junk, too. I don’t know what it is. Whatever I seem to pick up is what I’m working on.”


Source: Miramichi Leader – April 9, 2002

This text is available for use under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. For more information, select the following link: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

PART 11

                                                       HIRAM BAISLEY
                                                      By Willie Wark


A Maple Glen man sent to Belize to build a veneer mill has it running. Belize is a small country in Central America just south of the Mexican resort Cancun in the Caribbean.

“We have the mill up and running. It’s running well,” said Baisley in a telephone interview from Belize on Monday night. I have 23 men working here full time and the mill seems to be practically trouble-free. I haven’t had any problems yet. We are sawing between 7,000 and 8,000 square metres of veneer every day and selling it all to Mexico.

“The Mexican people we do business with were here to see me the other day. They want me to run another nine hour shift because they don’t have enough veneer,” said Baisley. “I am not sure what to do yet. I have to think about it for a while. We are in the middle of the dry season here and it’s hot. It’s been between 95 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit for the last two or three weeks. That’s hot to a boy from New Brunswick,” he added. “I hope to be home in July.”

Baisley was asked to go to Belize to build a mill by the Depow Group in 1987. He arrived in Balmopan, Belize in January 1988. Balmopan is near the center of the 8,866 square mile country. In January 1988, Baisley arrived in Belize with the equipment.

“I started much like a pioneer. I had to prepare the land and build a veneer mill,” said Baisley while he was home for a visit in October 1989. He rented a bulldozer, jumped on it and levelled the 23 acre site. Then he hired another man and they started putting up the mill. “I had five containers shipped in by boat. They are eight feet wide and about 45 feet long. All of the things I needed were in them.”

As the workload grew, so did Baisley’s staff. By the time the mill was finished he had 10 native people working for him. “We used local wood to build the buildings and local steel for the roofs. Some of the saws and mill equipment were sent from Virginia and what wasn’t we built on the site,” Baisley said.

The mill building is 200 feet long and 50 feet wide. The generator building measures 30 by 30. Also, there is a 30 by 30 boiler room on the site.

When asked if he had any problems because of the language differences, Baisley laughed. “I have two people who don’t speak a word of English. I will go over to them, show them how to do whatever it is that has to be done and they do it, but if they have to work in a situation where they could get hurt, things are different. Then, I ask one of the English speaking employees to help me explain the danger,” he added.

Baisley was home last fall and at that time he expected to be finished with the project and living back on the Miramichi with his wife Georgina and son Alexander at Christmas. But that didn’t work out, and it looks like he will be going back to Belize after he visits the Miramichi in July.

“I am not sure, but it looks like I may have to come back again. I’ll know when I get home in July,” he added.


Source: Miramichi Leader – May 25, 1990

This text is available for use under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. For more information, select the following link: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

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