Hawk Lake Log Chute
November 12, 2021
The Log Slide from Above
Once Haliburton’s Most Deadly Rapid for River Drivers — Now a Popular Tourist Attraction
By the 1870s the virgin pine forests had been cutover in most of the Trent Watershed south of Kinmount (except Nogies Creek), and Haliburton was becoming the source of most of the logs for sawmills as far away as Trenton. The most perilous part of river driving was clearing log jams, which typically occurred at rapids. A volunteer would go out on the moving mass of logs, pry free the one that was holding the jumble together, then try to scramble back to shore (without slipping on the slimy wet logs) before getting swept with the logs through the rapids. 13 river drivers were killed at the Hawk River Rapids, the most of any site in Haliburton County. They were typically buried in graves, perhaps marked with a wooden cross (now unmarked) nearby on the shore.
Log chutes made river driving much easier and safer, and there has been a log chute on the Hawk River since the 1870s. Originally operating with a wooden dam, the present concrete structure was built in 1928-29. The last sizeable drive took place in 1947, as the Hodgson-Jones Lumber Company took their logs to Hall’s Lake.
For years the ruins of the timber slide remained on the Hawk River, but beginning in 1999 the structure was restored, including a park and nature paths. The new log chute was built by 9 men in 9 days using chainsaws and sledgehammers (there was no power on site). The grand opening took place in 2005, and the structure survived 2013 flood, but was damaged in spring, four year later. Considering the never-ending repairs that many different levels of government made to the log slides over the years, it is an authentic viewing experience that the structure is not in pristine condition.