Clearing the Forest

The first thing on the settlers’ agenda was to find some land and build a home; this meant clearing some space in the forest. The forest in lot 64 was shaped by the coastal environment that it grew in, and was likely an old growth mix of white spruce, white pine, and red pine nearer the coast, and black spruce, eastern larch, red maple, elm and black ash further inland.8. The trees could be over 60 feet tall, and ten feet around.7. For people who came from largely deforested countries, this was not what they were accustomed to. Many would have no experience working in the woods, let alone with such huge trees. The custom in the beginning was to clear cut all of the trees, generally with no more than an axe.

This is most likely the method that would have been used in Murray Harbour, as Cambridge often sold settlers land with the stipulation that they were to give him the wood off it for shipbuilding. The other method of land clearing was called girdling; a strip was cut around the base of the tree, through the bark and living tissue, so that the tree would eventually drop its limbs and die.8. This method was much less labour intensive and made the tree easier to manage, but since it would ruin the wood,7. it’s unlikely Cambridge would have approved of it. Of course once the tree was cut, the stump remained. New settlers likely pulled enough stumps to make space for a house, then left the rest for the 5-20 years (depending on the species) it took to make them rotten and easy to remove. In the meantime, they would plant potatoes and hay around the stumps, and let livestock graze in the forest.8.   

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