photo of Fox Meadow Catalogue Home Publishing Catalogue Production Site menu - text links at page bottom

When Giant Fall cover

point to cover to see back

soft cover
5.5″ x 8.5″
192 pages
28 b&w pictures
7 maps
ISBN 0-9681452-5-6
retail $19.95



Links to other Fox Meadow books about 19th-century lumbering

Gilmour Tramway: A Lumber Baron’s Desperate Scheme

Timber Empire: The Exploits of the Entrepreneurial Boyds


Gilmour Tramway cover

The companion volume to When Giants Fall, Gilmour Tramway provides an in-depth look at the Gilmour company’s amazing log-moving system near Dorset, designed to move millions of logs over a range of hills between river systems. The photo top right shows part of the second jackladder on the Tramway.








Hurling Down the Pine cover


Timber Empire cover


Fossmill Story cover


J.R. Booth cover


A Deo Victoria cover

Gilmour Tramway

Now in its 2nd edition
Revised text, more pictures

When Giants Fall:
The Gilmour Quest for Algonquin Pine

by Gary Long and Randy Whiteman

“Long and Whiteman have produced a winner … [it] combines the geographer’s appreciation of place with the historian’s interest in issues and personality.”
Ontario History

“A terrific book … we heartily recommend it.”
The Raven, Algonquin Park

This is a classic story of Canadian lumbering during the era of the powerful timber barons of the late 19th century.

The Gilmour company was one of the lumber giants of eastern Canada. Beginning as a square timber dealer in the early 1800s, it expanded into sawmilling to supply the American market, relentlessly chopping through the pine forests of the Ottawa Valley and central Ontario to feed the voracious saws in its mills.

By the 1880s the company’s sawmill at Trenton on Lake Ontario was one of the world’s largest. Unfortunately, the supply of pine that fed it was running out. With the family’s wealth and reputation on the line, David Gilmour embarked on an incredible scheme to tap a new source of pine in Algonquin Park, and float the logs 445 kilometres to the mill along three different river systems — and over the hills between them.

Long and Whiteman capture the drama of the Gilmour company’s rise and fall.

Read introduction

Contents (Table of contents, list of pictures and maps)

Return to top


Additional reading

Selected books on specific aspects of lumbering history in central Ontario and the Ottawa Valley.

Hurling Down the Pine, by John W. Hughson and Courtney C.J. Bond (Gatineau Valley Historical Society)
If you read When Giants Fall, you should read this. It details the Gatineau River operations of Gilmour and Company and its successor, Gilmour and Hughson. It also covers other lumber companies of that region in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Well researched with an excellent complement of historical photographs depicting mills and logging operations in the Gatineau region. The book can be ordered from the Gatineau Valley Historical Society website.

Timber Empire: The Exploits of the Entrepreneurial Boyds, 2nd ed., by Grace Barker (Fox Meadow, 2003)
From their base at Bobcaygeon in Ontario’s Kawartha Lakes district, Mossom Boyd and his sons ran a prosperous lumbering and sawmilling operation during the 1800s. This well-illustrated book demonstrates the considerable determination and skill needed to overcome the many obstacles between the forests and profits.

The Fossmill Story: Life in a Railway Lumbering Village on the Edge of Algonquin Park, by Paul and Doug Mackey (Past Forward Heritage).
Visit Past Forward’s comprehensive web site for detailed information about the book and its accompanying video, Logging by Rail in Algonquin Park.

J.R. Booth: The Life and Times of an Ottawa Lumberking, by John Ross Trinnell (Treehouse Publishing)
Booth was arguably the most famous Ontario lumber baron, with huge mills at Ottawa and vast timber limits in the Ottawa Valley and beyond. This book, a chronological collection of events in the Booth story, is an excellent source of reliable information with a good selection of pictures. Out of print.

A Deo Victoria: The Story of the Georgian Bay Lumber Company 1871-1942, by James T. Angus (Severn Publications).
Though best known for his fascinating history of the Trent Canal (A Respectable Ditch: The History of the Trent-Severn Waterway 1833-1920), Angus applies his considerable research and writing skills with equal effect to follow the rise and decline one of the largest exploiters of pine forests in the Georgian Bay area. There is a modest but well-chosen selection of historical photographs. The book is out of print, but available in libraries or through inter-library loan. Used copies are sometimes to be found.

Return to top


Home    Catalogue    Production    Publishing