Monday, October 31, 2011

Pine Pitch Salve - Canadian Outdoor Equipment Co.

Canadian Outdoor Equipment Company Owners Tim and Chris, have just taken stock of Damn Yak Dry Goods Wilderness Remedy / Pine Pitch Salve.  As I have mentioned in my July post I hand collect the Pitch from My favorite hiking area in Halton.  The beeswax came from my Brother, who is a hobby apiarist, and the olive oil is a high end brand from Italy. This batch I used some US made 1oz tins for easy storage on yourself or in your first aid kit.  These 1oz tins will last an average single user aleast two years.  Again to refresh, Pine Pitch Salve has been around for hundreds of years and has been used to treat all sorts ailments in both humans and animals. Pine Pitch is a know antimicrobial. Today its used to sooth minor scrapes and cuts, as well it is a excellent "pulling" ointment for slivers. It will not cure you of any major desiese or virus, but it makes a soothing first aid salve. COEC might be putting it online, but you can swing by their shop or give them a shout, and they will definitely help you out.  On the same note, COEC will be attending the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto November 4-13, and you can pick one up there.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sneak Peak - Men's Long Wallets

Here are some pictures of the new Men's long wallet.  Made from 4-5 oz tooling leather.  It is hand cut and stitched.  It has two pockets inside, and the back has an eyelet to allow the attachment of a lanyard or chain.  The first small batch of these wallets will only be available at Klaxon Howl in the coming week or so.  I will keep you posted when you can head on over and grab one.  In the mean time they still have some of the men's card holders, women's wallets, key fobs, and bracelets! Gosh darn go get one!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Boardwalk Empire - Outdoors

Not to sure how many people are following this series, however this past week there was some great scenes. One of the characters Richard, was out for a walk in the woods, sporting the full tweed including a vest, also carrying a fantastic bone handled knife, US leather side bag and beautiful leather rifle case. Along his travels he meets up with the typical outdoors-men with the tall leather boots, tough pants, chore coat, and fedora. What a great camp they had in the bush, would have loved to have sat by that fire and had a chat. Of course they can pick the perfect location to make the camp ever so. The wardrobe in this show is next to none. The pieces are so colourful, and exact. I would love to go for a tour of their clothing collection for the show, to see the rows of outfits all perfectly matched for the stars and the extras alike.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Coleman - The Pink Year(s)


 Sometime is in the 50's Coleman had a great idea to come out with a core camping set in pink to market to fashion conscious women who like to camp.  It consisted of the above cooler, stove, lantern, and jug.  What is interesting about this set is that the stove and lantern are some of the only Coleman items that used their LP gas in canisters.  Just in case you don't know, almost all Coleman items of this time period used naphtha, or white gas.  I think that they might have did this so that the women using them could easily refill the stove or lantern just by putting in a cartridge, as apposed to poring fuel, dealing with the tanks pressure, and the initial starting flare up.  Needless to say this set wasn't produced that long, and are some what collectable now...even though you can't find the gas anywhere to use you stove or lantern.   The Lantern is model number 5104, and if anyone has one or the jug, I would love to take these useless things off your hands.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Wool Capote.

With the cold weather among us, its time to bust out our wool coats to bundle us up.  If you were M├ętis, a Mountain man, or a fur trader of the early 1900’s you probably would have owned one of these long coats.  The word Capote is apparently an Anglicized version of a French word meaning “Cape Cod Coat”, which dates back to the 1700’s.  Typically made from the high quality, colourful wool blankets from the Hudson Bay Company.  Most had a hood, and tassels on the shoulder for decoration and to keep snow from building up. The natural water repellence and warmth of wool made it the perfect material for a coat that could double as a sleeping bag or just as a extra blanket.  There has been accounts of men hunting in the traditional HBC blanket made capote because of the semi camouflage that it provided against the snow-covered north.  If you were so inclined to make one today, I don't think you would want to cut up you 4 point HBC blanket.  People now make them typically from army surplus blankets as they can be had for cheap and are tough quality wool.  Simple to make, and can be quite decorative with a nice contrasting blanket stitch.  If your in the mood for a super traditional wool coat, that you can make yourself.  Give it a shot! 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Logging Camps.

I have always been very interested with historical logging camps and the hard working men and women who spent countless hours in the muck and snow. I really enjoy looking at the pictures of the grizzly looking folks who braved the elements for meager wages, and the hand built buildings that they all crammed in and called home. Looking at some of the bunk houses you could only imagine the smell when walking into a room filled with 30 men who have been sweating all day, socks and shirts hanging all around. It's really neat, that even today in Algonquin PP you can still stumble upon old remains of logging camps from the past, some still have some of the old pot belly stove and bunks. There they are, just sitting in the middle of the forest. While looking for some photos of these camps I found this great site, chalk full of photos and even a great description of life at an early 1900's logging camp by Eugene Bordeaux from 1969/1970.

"By the time he was fifteen or sixteen or even thirteen years old a boy quit school to look for work. Farm land in the community was scarce, and basically unprofitable, and the only other jobs in the community were in the mill or the logging woods. Besides it was easier and more realistic to make a living cutting and drawing logs than trying to scrape together enough poor land to support a farm. Therefore, most boys went into the logging camps and started to work along side their fathers and men even older.

Logging for the Reynolds meant staying in camp for six days at a time, coming home on Saturday night and going back on Sunday. This was a better arrangement than that offered in the better paying camps “up south” Tupper Lake, St Regis Falls——where a man could get home only once or twice during the whole winter. Four or five miles into the Adirondack foothills above the sawmill, the four Reynolds camps were six miles from many of the loggers homes; this was a long ride, even on the mildest winter days when the temperature might be twenty above zero.

Camp Number One was closest to the mill, and men reached it before they came to the logging road that burrowed through the deep woods. Camps Two and Four were on the eastern, side of that logging road, while Camp Three was furthest into the forest, very close to the Brooklyn Cooperage railroad spur. Each camp was a squat assemblage of six or seven log buildings that a crew of as many men could throw together in less than a summer. The camp might be used for only four years, and then abandoned to the harsh North Country weather. With logs so plentiful it was more expensive to salvage a camp lumber than to start a new camp from scratch. The woodsmen who built each camp chinked the round logs together with mortar made of plaster. The men resorted table into crude slab lumber and tarpaper for the peaks of the “dog house” or bunkhouse, but at camp 2 they built the whole office of lumber instead of logs. The camp office was the working and sleeping quarters for the time keeper (bookkeeper) and the camp boss or foreman.

About a hundred feet long and nearly twenty feet wide the doghouse was large enough to sleep twenty to forty men. The bare floors of both the first and second stories were of wide softwood planks. Lighting for the downstairs room was three or four kerosene lamps that sat on tables in the room. During the day, light came in through a pair of windows on each wall. A big Comet box stove setting in a sand box on the first floor heated the whole building and the stovepipe from it provided the only direct heat to the upstairs sleeping quarters. Firewood for this stove and the one in the kitchen was cut by a special cutting gang in the fall before the camp opened.

For some of the men and young boys who worked in the camps life in the bunkhouse was more comfortable and the food more plentiful than at home. But for the majority, however, the logging camps were a hard necessity imposed by that other necessity of earning enough money to keep themselves and their families clothed and fed.

Beds at camp all rested on the floor, and were simple rectangles of wood holding instead of mattresses some loose straw and a couple of woolen blankets. The men crawled into their beds at nine every night in the same fleece lined long underwear they sweated in during their fourteen hour days. Naturally, the Reynolds camps smelled strongly not only of dirty underclothes but of unwashed bodies and socks worn for a week at a time. The only bath a lumberjack took was one at home Saturday night. In the morning and before supper men rinsed off their faces and hands in occasionally lukewarm but more often cold water kept in pitchers near the dining the doghouse. For drying off, there were eight or ten towels that some of the men used also for handkerchiefs. There were no slop buckets under the beds, but while the men avoided the stink that would have come from more than twenty thunder mugs, they had to go outside on bitter nights to reach the outhouse. Bedbugs were not common in the doghouse, but the conditions there did support lice and fleas. Mice and rats dwelling in the horse barn were usually let alone, but rodents who invaded the cook shack were soon trapped. Overall, the Reynolds camps, although they got cleaner as the years passed, were neither cleaner nor dirtier than other camps in the area.

More important to the men than cleanliness of their dog room was its temperature. The windows could be open if the dog room was hot, but too much heat was not usually the problem. “They kicked like hell when it was cold”. The dog room was heated only indirectly from the pipe of the large cornet box stove resting in its sandbox on the first floor. This sand not only protected the plank floors from sparks but gave tobacco chewers a fine target to spit into.

The men brought few belongings with them when they came for a week’s stay in the camps. The articles that a man hauled along in his grip were not as necessary to him as the clothes he needed to work in the woods, most of which he carried on his back."

Monday, October 17, 2011

Camera Obscura.

For some reason, these last four songs of their album "Let's get out of this Country" became the songs of the weekend.  Probably listened to it 50 times. Don't know why? Just couldn't get enough.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Swags / Bed rolls.

Swags Or Bed rolls have a long history in Australia and America, Having their peaks during the Depression of the 1890s and again with the Great Depression of the 1930s.  They were typically carried by shearers, miners, travelling farmers, and the unemployed.  While here in the Americas we generally saw them carried by Cowboys.  The term Swagman is/was a common phase down under for a foot traveller. The historical swag consisted of a durable canvas outer cloth and wool blanket inside to keep you warm.  Commercial Swags are still made of Canvas, but usually made to fit your standard sleeping bag, and sometimes they contain integrated foam mattresses.  They are finding a place again around the world with bushcrafters and traditional campers who enjoy sleeping under the stars and don't mind carrying the extra weight.  Duluth pack makes a very nice bed roll, thought I think it would be great if it had a waxed bottom for added durability. And a quick Google found many tent makes and tack dealers do make their own bed rolls for reasonable cost, while making your own seems quite easily possible! The most accurate description of a swag is probably from the 1907 book "The Romance of the Swag" by Henry Lawson.

"The swag is usually composed of a tent “fly” or strip of calico (a cover for the swag and a shelter in bad weather—in New Zealand it is oilcloth or waterproof twill), a couple of blankets, blue by custom and preference, as that colour shows the dirt less than any other (hence the name “bluey” for swag), and the core is composed of spare clothing and small personal effects. To make or “roll up” your swag: lay the fly or strip of calico on the ground, blueys on top of it; across one end, with eighteen inches or so to spare, lay your spare trousers and shirt, folded, light boots tied together by the laces toe to heel, books, bundle of old letters, portraits, or whatever little knick-knacks you have or care to carry, bag of needles, thread, pen and ink, spare patches for your pants, and bootlaces. Lay or arrange the pile so that it will roll evenly with the swag (some pack the lot in an old pillowslip or canvas bag), take a fold over of blanket and calico the whole length on each side, so as to reduce the width of the swag to, say, three feet, throw the spare end, with an inward fold, over the little pile of belongings, and then roll the whole to the other end, using your knees and judgment to make the swag tight, compact and artistic; when within eighteen inches of the loose end take an inward fold in that, and bring it up against the body of the swag. There is a strong suggestion of a roley-poley in a rag about the business, only the ends of the swag are folded in, in rings, and not tied. Fasten the swag with three or four straps, according to judgment and the supply of straps. To the top strap, for the swag is carried (and eased down in shanty bars and against walls or veranda-posts when not on the track) in a more or less vertical position—to the top strap, and lowest, or lowest but one, fasten the ends of the shoulder strap (usually a towel is preferred as being softer to the shoulder), your coat being carried outside the swag at the back, under the straps. To the top strap fasten the string of the nose-bag, a calico bag about the size of a pillowslip, containing the tea, sugar and flour bags, bread, meat, baking-powder and salt, and brought, when the swag is carried from the left shoulder, over the right on to the chest, and so balancing the swag behind. But a swagman can throw a heavy swag in a nearly vertical position against his spine, slung from one shoulder only and without any balance, and carry it as easily as you might wear your overcoat. Some bushmen arrange their belongings so neatly and conveniently, with swag straps in a sort of harness, that they can roll up the swag in about a minute, and unbuckle it and throw it out as easily as a roll of wall-paper, and there’s the bed ready on the ground with the wardrobe for a pillow. The swag is always used for a seat on the track; it is a soft seat, so trousers last a long time. And, the dust being mostly soft and silky on the long tracks out back, boots last marvellously. Fifteen miles a day is the average with the swag, but you must travel according to the water: if the next bore or tank is five miles on, and the next twenty beyond, you camp at the five-mile water to-night and do the twenty next day. But if it’s thirty miles you have to do it. Travelling with the swag in Australia is variously and picturesquely described as “humping bluey,” “walking Matilda,” “humping Matilda,” “humping your drum,” “being on the wallaby,” “jabbing trotters,” and “tea and sugar burglaring,” but most travelling shearers now call themselves trav’lers, and say simply “on the track,” or “carrying swag.”

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dust of Snow by Robert Frost.

The way a crow 
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.