The Canadian Forestry Corps' (CFC) came to the Scottish Highlands in 1941 to help cut down trees.
No. 9 and No.14 CFC Companies made their base at the Balnagowan Estate, located just south of Tain.
On 20 April, the No. 9 Company was set up at Lamington Camp, located near an old farmstead called Mineralbank Cottage. Locals still warmly remember the time the unit spent at Lamington.
Summer 1941 was extremely wet; cutting and moving trees in muddy, boggy conditions was a difficult job.
"In Canada, we expect to find our boggy ground in the low lying areas. Not so in Scotland. I well remember tractor drivers saying that it was the only country that boggy ground could be found at the top of hills as well. The perpetual rain, the locals referred to it as 'Scotch mist', did not help either"
Anon. (date unknown) Canadian National Archive records quoted by W. C. Wonders (1991) in "Sawdust Fusiliers"
Storyteller Essie Stewart shares a local tale in both Gaelic and English.
- Macleod of Assynt - English(mp3)
- Macleod of Assynt transcript - English (pdf 334k)
- Macleod of Assynt - Gaelic (mp3)
- Macleod of Assynt transcript - Gaelic (pdf 343k)
The Canadian Forestry Corps in the community
The Canadians brought with them up-to-date logging techniques and machinery, not yet widely used in Scotland. Many locals had never seen the type of tractors and winches used to pull the trees out of the ground.
The radio, however, blared this warning:
"The Canadians arriving in your midst will not be much help in your war effort. Lock up your daughters and stay off the roads. Give these men a motorcycle and a bottle of whisky and they will kill themselves."
Lord Haw Haw, German propagandist on the radio
Of course it was not true; it was just German propaganda. The local community warmly welcomed the Canadian’s arrival.
They provided the locals with shows, entertainment, free wood and tools, as well as husbands for the local girls. There were many weddings in the Highlands during this time. Many Canadians had Scottish connections and were keen to visit their relations.
The CFC was always ready to play a part in the community. The distinctive green cap badges and shoulder patches of the CFC uniform could often been seen in local parades.
The nearby No.14 Company made and donated toys to raise money for the Red Cross.