Mac welcomes lumberjacks and jills
By Jim Hynes
“C’mon Turbo…make some pencils buddy!”
“Turbo” is Eric Cumming from Ontario’s Sir Sanford Fleming College and his Woodsmen teammates are shouting encouragement as he attempts to bring a can of water to a boil using only a hatchet, two small logs, three matches and his wits.
Turbo splits his logs, then uses his hatchet blade to carve shavings from one. He lights the shavings and frantically begins making “pencils” – long, thin strips of wood that will help smouldering shavings burst into flame. After six minutes and five seconds of log splitting, fire building, blowing, sheltering and cajoling, the referee shouts and the fans cheer. The boiling point has been reached.
Who knew watching water boil could be such fun?
The water boil was just one of the thrilling – yes thrilling – events taking place at Macdonald Campus this past weekend when 16 teams of lumberjacks and jills turned up to take part in McGill’s 49th annual Intercollegiate Woodsman Competition, part of the Canadian Lumberjack Championships. Fans and friends and a number of TV camera crews braved bitter cold to watch male and female competitors battle for supremacy in 14 events, including pole climbing, snowshoeing, axe throwing and a variety of chopping and sawing challenges.
The McGill women’s team finished second to the lumberjills from Nova Scotia Agricultural College. McGill’s Sonya Meganck took first in the axe-throw event while the team of Elina Tupamaki and Beth Grant won the Underhand Chop. The McGill squad also placed first in the Swede Saw team event.
The woodsmen from the University of New Brunswick took first place on the men’s side, with McGill’s lumberjacks placing fourth. Ben Nichols had the team’s best result, a second-place finish in the axe throw.
The McGill teams now return to their early morning practice regimen in preparation for the next event on the Canadian Lumberjack Championships schedule at Nova Scotia Agricultural College on Feb. 14.