Timber Slide

A timber slide is a water-filled chute or runway built to carry “cribs” of timber (see Rafts) around rapids and falls. Similar devices for individual pieces of wood were called “flumes.”



Timber Slide
A timber slide on Ottawa River near Parliament Hill, late 1880s.

Ruggles Wright of Hull built the first Canadian slide in 1829. Made of wood and designed to spread the river’s fall over a kilometre or more, slides quickened the drive, lessened chances of a jam and reduced damage. Most common in the Ottawa River Valley, slides were originally private toll-levying facilities. By 1846, public slides were operating as far up the Ottawa as Lac Coulonge. By 1870, the Canadian government maintained many public slides (which also collected tolls) to facilitate the timber trade in the Ottawa River valley. In 1860, the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) rode down a timber slide during his visit to British North America.

See also Timber Trade History.