Pick your times.
We were travelling basically South and East from Sherbrooke trying to put a few miles behind us after having dawdled rather too long round the wonderful Sherbrooke Village and with the general idea of reaching Canso before nightfall. All was going well as we travelled along Highway 211, a very pleasant road with little traffic and the ancient campervan (RV) we were in seemed to be holding up nicely and not making any of the strange noises it was prone to making. Everything was great until the road decided it didn't want to be a road any more and was going to be a body of water instead. Hmm. The sign very clearly announced that we were at the Country Harbour Ferry.
Certainly, it was my own fault for not checking the map properly, I was being lazy and following roadsigns so nobody else to blame. We had just seen a ferry departing from our side and a quick check on the informative sign let me know the next ferry was in almost and hour and this gives rise to the title of this tip. From 0800 to 1800 they run every 30 minutes and from 1800 to 0800 only once an hour. Well, no use crying over spilt milk and so I prepared a small snack for Lynne and myself, made her a coffee from the Thermos and took the opportunity to avail myself of a can of cider (I wasn't driving, I hasten to add) and we sat and waited.
Now, I know from long experience on the road that many travellers would see this as a huge inconvenience but what can you do? Might as well just enjoy yourself and let things take their course which is what we did.
I am not very good at sitting for long periods anywhere and so I went for a wander about. There is absolutely nothing to see at the Southwestern side but the scenery is pleasant enough and it was certainly very peaceful, just lovely Nova Scotian countryside. I did utilise the free 'phone to the office on the far side and enquired if there was an alternative road route but was told that it involved a fairly long drive and we would be as quick to wait for the ferry, so we did. Obviously, the locals know when to turn up as the single other vehicle on the boat appeared about five minutes from departure time.
The vessel is a cable ferry so the traveller need have no fear about being swept out to sea! There is a small crew, I saw two namely the captain / steersman or whatever and the deckhand who was charming when taking our fare which is a standard $5:50 for a vehicle irrespective of the number of passengers.
The crossing is very quick but somehow exhilarating and I really enjoyed it, it was well worth the wait. If you decide to take the 211 and I recommend you do as it is a lovely road then be sure to factor in some time for this ferry of you are on a tight schedule. If you are just rambling about then it is another delightful little diversion on the way
Inside the sawmill
There were two men at work when I was there. They were just sitting waiting for the log finish through the sawing machine. We chatted for a quite some time. They told me some more about the sawmill and about the area around Sherbrooke. They were quite fun to talk to, but they were out to fool me! What better to do than fool a tourist, hahaha. Sorry guys, you didn't succeed! But I had a lot of fun talking to you!
The floor is moving...
When you stand a bit more close to the sawing machine you can feel the power generated by the water. The floor is moving on the rhythm of the saw, amazing what force a bit of water can create.
Schematic of power supply
Schematic of power supply, and mechanism for operating log carriage and sawframe. A crank driven by the waterwheel is attached to the pitman which moves the sawframe up and down. The saw cuts on the downward stroke. The reciprocating motion of the sawframe activates the levers and ratchet gear which move the log carriage forward. (Illustration by Fred Scott)
In this picture you can see how the water flows to the watermill (click the picture to enlarge it and see the map). There is a dam in Sherbrooke lake and from there the water flows to the mill. In front of the mill you can see the pond. The water from the lake doesn't only flow to the mill but part of it also flows directly to the St. Mary river.
The pond in front of the mill
This is the pond in front of the sawmill. This is where the logs are waiting to go to the mill. You can see a little entrance in the mill where they tug the logs into the mill.
The waterwheel was spinning round and round.... I thought it went quite fast already. But it wasn't on top speed at all when I was there, because the water levels were too low. Now I wonder how fast it could go. That must be a fascinating thing to see.
The first thing you see
This is actually the first thing you see when you go to the sawmill in Sherbrooke. It was raining a little bit when we got there, but it didn't bother me too much. I was just fascinated by this mill. I could hear the waterwheel turn around, the sound of the splashing of the water..... I stood on the little bridge for a while, looking where all the water came from and went to. And faintly I could hear how the machines where doing their job on the inside of the mill.
The McDonald Brothers'Sawmill lies where sawmills have stood since 1826. It is a fully operation reconstruction of a water-powered, up-and-down sawmill. During the time when water was the only efficient means of transportation and power, Sherbrooke was ideally located at the head of navigation on the St.Mary's River, which ran through vast acreage of timberland. Logs were transported in booms to the water powered mills then loaded onto sailing vessels built in Sherbrooke for the voyage to British markets.
The watermill is not in the museum of Sherbrooke, it is located just outside of the village. You can just go here and have a look around; the admittance is free. I really loved my visit to the saw mill. I even enjoyed it more than the visit to Sherbrooke Village
And when the sawing is done, the beams come out on the this side of the mill.
Lets take a look at the real machines
Now after having seen the schematic lets take a look at the real machines.
And this is the finished product.
And this is the finished product.
I hope you enjoyed my tour through Sherbrooke Village and the sawmill.
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