Georgian Bay

Dad Finds a Peavey Log Roller

When Dad was dragging his kayak away from the shore to store it at the end of the summer his foot twisted a bit on this rusty old metal piece hidden below some juniper branches. He said:

At first I thought it might be an old dock spike but was happy to see this was the metal component of what is known as a “peavey” log roller. I last saw one of these about 45 years ago at your mother’s home, your grandfather  had one of these. He told me the name of this weird looking tool and explained it’s use. Grandpa’s had a stocky rounded hardwood handle about 5 feet long. So I attached the rusty metal part to a piece of pressure treated wood and have already used it a number of times to effortlessly roll and move logs at the shoreline.

Dad explained how this peavey log roller was from when the logging industry was in Britt/Byng Inlet. What a treasure for a piece of the area history hiding on our property! Byng Inlet had one of the largest sawmill operations in Canada in the late 1800s. During the logging days the population in Britt/Byng Inlet was larger than Sudbury at the time, with over 4000 people. There was even a theatre!

On my mother’s side, my ancestors were drawn to the area around 1860 from Penetanguishene likely for the work. On my father’s side, my ancestors came in the early 1900s and worked on the railway for CNN.

A few summers ago, Dad and I looked along the Magnetewan River and into Georgian Bay for rings and spikes that were used during the logging days. We found so many. It surprised me that I hadn’t noticed them before. Were the rings used to attach log booms? How did they decide which islands to attach these rings?


  • Sandy Barron

    Yes, these were used for log booms and they are scattered along the river and out the bay. My dad had one of those Peavy log rollers. He used it gathering logs that had escaped the booms or sunk when they became waterlogged to build our home in Britt. He had taken them to a sawmill (not sure which one) and each board was stamped with his name. When Lynne had the house renovated last year she saw many of those boards. I’d also like to mention here that Carl and Emmaline Madigan are my Aunt and Uncle so the Gereaux Island and Point au Baril Lighthouses were an important part of my life as dad was keeper at Gereaux from 1946-1967. Thank you for your stories of Britt. 🙂

    • Jessica Outram

      Thanks for sharing, Sandy! Lots of reminders of a time gone by still lingering in town and on the bay. What surprises me most is how easy it is to miss these details. So many stories waiting to be discovered!

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