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Narcisse Cyr's Mill, Little Cascapedia River

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Narcisse Cyr's Mill, New Richmond. (Photo - Peggy Willett Collection)Narcisse Cyr was very important in the lumbering industry in the Cascapedia Bay area, owning and operating three mills during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. After the Starrak Mill on the east side of the Little Cascapedia River burned in 1924, Cyr purchased the machinery and the mill and transferred it to the west side of the river where it was re-constructed. This mill operated until 1942 when it too was destroyed by fire.

Wood for this operation was cut at White Lake, hauled through the woods to New River (St. Edgar) and floated down the Little Cascapedia River to the site of the mill in New Richmond where it was held in booms until it was sawed. The logs had to be floated about 18 miles to reach the mill and employed about 120 men on the drive, who often worked day and night. The logs were cut during the winter months and the drive began in May and often continued through until freeze-up in the fall, usually being complete by “All Saints” Day. During haymaking time, the mill closed for one or two weeks so that the workers with farms could make their hay.

There was a regular payroll of 32 men at the large mill to do the sawing and planing of planks, shingles and laths. There were two shingle producing machines, planers and also a “Ben” saw. At that time, the railroad was the only means of transporting the wood products to market, with the mill’s main customers were located in Rimouski, Montreal and St. John, New Brunswick. The mill was capable of producing one railroad car of lumber for export each day.

During the Depression years, the Cyr mill struggled to survive, with costs high and the market poor. After paying two cutting fees, workplace accidents and salaries they hard to work day and night to keep the mill functioning. The salaries were low but Narcisse Cyr had a store for the exclusive use of his employees, where they could purchase the necessities of life at a lower cost than elsewhere. There was also a cookhouse for the workers but this became a problem when non-workers would travel for several miles in order to have a good meal.

There was a smaller mill at “The Meadow” during the early 1930s that sawed long lumber and shingles. This mill operated for two or three winters and produced long lumber, boards and shingles. During this period, Cyr built yet another sawmill in St. Elzéar to supplement production. When the three mills were in operation they provided employment for at least 250 men and were an important factor in the economy of this area.
Narcisse Cyr was active in local politics and served as Mayor of New Richmond for three terms.Hedied in 1939.