Madawaska Loggers Monument and Slate Falls Graves

Oct 13, 2022 | Featured Posts, Uncategorized

There is a monument signifying the hardship and tragedy of the log drives down the Masawaska River.  A stone monument donated by the Stone Carvers of Denbigh, Ontario was created in 2003 and placed on the north shore of the Madawaska River in Lower Madawaska Provincial Park at Slate Falls.
The inscription on the stone reads:

Lower Madawaska River - Slate Falls Ontario Parks

Lower Madawaska River – Slate Falls – Ontario Parks

‘This Stone Is Dedicated In Memory
To all the loggers that worked and lost their lives, along the Madawaska River during the early logging years.
May their spirit live on forever.
Please respect the natural beauty of the river, so that others may enjoy it for centuries to come.”

Logger Memorial Perspective - Memorial Stone in Foreground

Logger Memorial Perspective – Memorial Stone in Foreground

Loggers Memorial Stone - Madawaska - Back

Loggers Memorial Stone – Madawaska – Back

Directions to the monuments are as follows (courtesy of Garnet Wilkes):
*Hyland Creek Road starts at the east side of the bridge on Hwy 41 in the village of Griffith ON and follows the Madawaska Riverbank.
*Follow Hyland Creek Road North.
*At 8km keep left at the fork in the road to stay close to the river.
*At 11.4km turn left onto bush road designated “Lower Madawaska River-Slate Falls”.
*Travel 1km to the parking area for Lower Madawaska River Provincial Park.
*Motorized Vehicles are not permitted beyond this point.
*From parking area walk on bush road a few meters towards the river.
*Turn right onto walking trail before you reach the river.
*Follow trail approximately 500m to the monument on the riverbank.

Slate Falls Logger Graves

Slate Falls Grave

V.E. Pell – 1920

Logger Grave - Slate Falls

John Hanaway – July 1st, 1882

A particular good account and photos of the Slate Falls logger graves can be seen here:

“While reading some old manuscripts of the history of Algonquin park, many accounts of canoeist stumbling upon loggers graves was common place. Usually these graves were for the log drivers, from horrible accidents while on the job. Logging back in the late 1800’s involved dragging the logs out on to the ice of a river during the winter months, then the swollen rivers of spring thaw would guide them down river to log markets in Ottawa and Quebec. One main logging river route started in Lake of Two Rivers in Algonquin Park and finishes at Arnprior Ont, where it flows into the Ottawa River. This river is called The Madawaska River, and along this river is Slate Falls.

Logger Grave - Slate Falls

Logger Grave – Slate Falls

Slate Falls was a particularly dangerous place as the logs would jam up continuously, and the poorly paid log drivers would have to scramble out and free the logs with their pikes before it became to large. In larger jams they would have to resort to dynamite to release the jam and get the logs moving again. Many men would slip and fall under the mass of wood, as safety precautions were nil, and PFD’s were not around. Being in the middle of the woods with no access to villages or towns, if they did in fact find the body, they were buried on site. Then out of respect, fellow loggers or friends would chisel his name and the date of his death on a nearby rock. At Madawaska river there are over 12 inscriptions in the granite around Slate Falls. Quite a piece of Canadian history to be seen while on a portage, for sure.”


To view the Loggers Inscriptions in Bedrock on South Shore of the Madawaska River at the foot of Slate Falls (courtesy of Garnet Wilkes):

Logger Grave - Slate Falls

Logger Grave – Slate Falls

*Access is by water only.
*From parking area (as above), walk approximately 200m on bush road all the way to the river.
*Paddle 1 km upstream to the opposite (South) Shore to the entrance to the original portage at the foot of Slate Falls.
*Inscriptions with names and dates can be seen in the bedrock along this old portage. The portage was moved away from the river to keep people from walking on the stones and wearing them down. Please treat them with respect.

Thanks to Lois Thomson and Garnet Wilkes for submitting resources for this post.

Holy Rosary Cemetery Logger Memorial

Another memorial can be seen in Our Lady Of The Holy Rosary Cemetery in Griffith, Otnario.

Loggers Memorial - Holy Rosary Cemetery - Griffith

Loggers Memorial – Holy Rosary Cemetery – Griffith


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