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History of the Lumber Industry of America
Chapter X. Quebec Culling


From an early period in the development of industry and commerce in Canada the timber trade has been an important element in the activities of the people. There was a demand in Great Britain and other European maritime countries for ship timber and timber for other structural purposes, which material was sent abroad in the squared form. There was also a call for spars or masts, bowsprits, booms and yards, and there was an extensive manufacture of boards, deals, planks, lath, staves, etc. Much of the cooperage stock went to the West Indies to supply the demand for sugar, tobacco and other packages. The forest products handled were white pine, red or norway pine, elm for ship timber, oak for the same purpose, squares of ash, basswood, butternut and birch. All of the woods mentioned were shipped to foreign ports in the form of square timber largely, much of it being resawed after it reached destination. There were also hickory handspikes, ash oars, “lathwood,” as lath were called in the culling rules, and other forms. “ Deals ” were, as they are now, an important item in Canadian mill output. The word “deal” is synonymous with the word “cant,” as applied to lumber—that is, a piece sawed to dimensions suitable for resawing. The standard Quebec or English deal was twelve feet long, eleven incfies wide and two and one-half inches thick. A “ standard hundred” of deals was one hundred of these pieces. Deals were a favorite form of lumber production, and much of the good white pine and norway pine of Canada was cut into deals.

The Quebec market in the early days, down to 1840 or 1850, was not only the gateway for the foreign distribution of forest products of all Canada, but also that market drew much from the Lake Champlain region of Vermont and New York, and all portions of the last named State which had access to the navigable waters of the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. The rich pine of northern Vermont to a large extent went down the Sorel River to the St. Lawrence River and thence to Quebec. The forests of northern New York were extensively drawn upon for elm timber, which was hauled for twenty to forty miles by ox teams, in the winter, to the St. Lawrence, and on that stream was rafted to Quebec. This elm timber business was carried westward until in recent years a supply has been drawn from as far west as Wisconsin. Pine deals have also been furnished the Quebec market from all the old white pine states of the United States, though, of course, in later years the Dominion has been about the only source of supply.

The export trade has always been so important a factor in the Canadian lumber industry, and the production of lumber has been to so large an extent from Crown lands, that the industry has been peculiarly subject to official regulation. One of the important phases of these regulations has been that relating to qualities of lumber and the upbuilding of a system by which relations between buyer and seller, producer, exporter and importer might be officially established. Thus has arisen the system of measurement and inspection known as Quebec culling. It is, perhaps, the most widely used of any system of lumber inspection in the world and, perhaps, of the widest reputation. It seems well, therefore, to give space for the more important provisions of this measure which has back of it the authority of the Dominion of Canada.

Survey, or inspection, is called “culling” in the Quebec market. Authority for the enforcement of the culling rules was derived from an act1 of the Dominion Parliament, entitled “ An Act Respecting the Culling and Measuring of Lumber in the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec.” The application of this act is thus defined in section 3: “The provisions of this act apply only to the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec and do not apply to any place below the eastern end of the Island of Orleans.”

The important portions of this act are as follows:

Square timber shall be measured only in some one of the three modes following, that is to say:—

First.—Measured off, in the raft or otherwise, giving the full cubic contents without any allowance or deduction ;

Second.—Measured in shipping order—which shall mean sound, fairly made timber—gum seams closed at the butt and sound knots not to be considered unsoundness—lengths under the merchantable standard hereinafter mentioned and not less than twelve feet long to be received, if, in the opinion of the culler, the same is fit for shipment; ‘ •

Third.—Culled and measured in a merchantable state, in accordance with the rules, standards and limitations hereinafter described.

In measuring timber, the culler employed for that purpose shall measure not only the girth of each piece of timber, but shall also measure, personally, with the aid of one competent assistant, the length of each piece of timber, in all cases where such measurement is practicable with the aid of only one assistant; and in the event of any case arising in which, in the opinion of the supervisor, or of any deputy, such measurement cannot be effected with the aid of one assistant only, such culler may employ an additional competent assistant for that purpose, who, as well as the assistant first above mentioned, shall be approved of by the supervisor or deputy.

Every culler shall be provided with such measuring rods, tapes and other measuring instruments as are prescribed by departmental regulations, all of which shall be in accordance with the standard measures of Canada, and shall bear the verification marks of the Department of Inland Revenue:

Every culler shall also be provided with such scribing knives and such stamps as are necessary for marking the articles culled by him with the initials of his name, and with the capital letters distinguishing the quality, as follows:—

M. Which shall denote what is merchantable;

U. Which shall denote what is sound and of merchantable quality, but under merchantable size;

S. Which shall denote what is of second quality;

T. Which shall denote what is of third quality ;

R. Which shall denote what is rejected and unmerchantable:

Such marks shall be indented or stamped on the end of each article of lumber culled in terms of the merchantable standard hereinafter prescribed, except as to West India and barrel staves, boards, deals, lathwood and handspikes.

Every culler shall check and examine the entry of his measurements and of culling and counting on the books of the supervisor, and sign such entry and calculations on the said books.

A copy of every agreement as to the adoption of any of the modes of measurement or culling mentioned in this Act, signed by the seller and buyer, shall be lodged in the office of the supervisor, or deputy supervisor, at the same time that a requisition is made to him for a culler to measure or cull any lumber, for the guidance of the supervisor, or deputy supervisor, and culler, in the performance of their duty,—and such requisition shall state the river and section of the Province wherefrom such lumber is produced; but the owner of any lumber, or his agent, may cause it to be measured, culled or counted before any sale, in which case the specification of such lumber shall set forth the mode in which the measurement, culling or counting has been performed.

QUALITIES OF LUMBER.

In all cases the supervisor, deputy supervisor and cullers, respectively shall, in ascertaining and certifying the merchantable size and quality of lumber submitted to their culling, be governed by the descriptions, rules, standards and limitations following, that is to say:—

White Oak.—Square white oak timber, first quality, shall be free from rot, rotten knots affecting the surrounding wood, open rings and grub or large worm holes, but small worm holes and shakes shall be allowed according to the judgment of the culler;

Second quality shall be oak not coming within the definition of first quality, and which, in the judgment of the culler, is not culls;

Rock Elm.—Square hard grey or rock elm shall be free from rot, open rings and rotten knots affecting the surrounding wood, but shakes and slivers shall be allowed according to the judgment of the culler;

White or Yellow Pine.—Square white or yellow pine timber shall be free from rot, rotten knots affecting the surrounding wood, worm holes, open shakes and open rings, but sound knots shall be allowed according to the judgment of the culler;

Red Pine.—Square red pine timber shall be free from rot, rotten knots affecting the surrounding wood, worm holes, shakes and splits, but sound knots shall be allowed according to the judgment of the culler;

Ash, Basswood and Butternut.—Square ash, basswood and butternut shall be of the same quality as white or yellow pine square timber;

Birch.—Square birch shall be free from rot, rotten knots, splits and shakes, and shall be allowed two inches wane ;

Masts, Bowsprits and Red Pine Spars.—Masts, bowsprits and red pine spars shall be sound, free from bad knots, rents and shakes, and the heart shall be visible in spots at or near the partners;

Hickory Handspikes.—Hickory handspikes shall be six feet long, and three and a half inches square at the smaller end;

Ash Oars.—Ash oars shall be three inches square on the loin, and five inches broad on the blade, the blade shall be one-third of the length of the oar, and such oars shall be cleft straight on all sides, and free from large knots, splits and shakes;

Lathwood.—Lathwood shall be cut in lengths of from three to six feet, and measured by the cord of eight feet in length by four feet in height ; and, to be merchantable, shall be free from rot, shall split freely, and each billet may contain to the extent of three or four open case knots, provided they run in line or nearly so, and it shall not have more than one twist;

Pine or Fir Boards.—Pine or fir boards shall not be less than ten feet in length, one inch in thickness and seven inches in breadth, equally broad from end to end, edged with a saw, or neatly trimmed by a straight line, and shall be free from rot, bad knots, rents and shakes, and of equal thickness on both edges from end to end; the color alone of any board shall not be a sufficient cause for its rejection, if it is in other respects sound and merchantable, and of the dimensions required by this Act;

White or Yellow Pine Deals.—White or yellow pine deals, to be merchantable, shall be free from rot, rotten knots, grub-worm holes, open case knots, shakes and splits (a slight sun crack excepted), and sound knots and hard black knots shall be allowed as follows: If they do not exceed three in number, and do not exceed on the average one inch and a quarter diameter; if they exceed three and are not more than six in number, and do not exceed, on the average, three-quarters of an inch in diameter; such proportion of knots shall be allowed for a deal eleven inches in width and twelve feet in length, and deals of greater or less dimension shall be allowed for in proportion, according to the judgment of the culler; wane equal to half an inch on one edge, if running the whole length of the deal, shall be allowed, and if not exceeding half the length of such deal, three-quarters of an inch wane shall be allowed; the deals shall be free from black or dead sap, with a slight exception, in the discretion of the culler;

Red Pine Deals.—Red pine deals, to be merchantable, shall be free from rot, rotten knots, grub-worm holes, open case knots and splits; several small sound knots shall be allowed, according to the judgment of the culler; heart shake shall be allowed, if it does not run far into the deal or form a split through at the ends; they shall be free, or nearly so, from black or dead sap, but sound sap on the corners or on a portion of one face of a deal shall be allowed, according to the judgment of the culler;

Spruce Deals.—Spruce deals, to be merchantable, shall be free from rot, rotten knots, grub-worm holes, open case knots, splits and shakes,—a heart shake not exceeding one-fourth of an inch to half an inch in depth excepted; several small sound knots and hard black knots shall be allowed, according to the judgment of the culler, and in the exercise of such judgment he shall keep in view the peculiar nature of the wood, and govern his judgment accordingly; wane equal to half an inch on one edge, if running the whole length of the deal, shall be allowed, and if not exceeding one-quarter the length of such deal, three-quarters of an inch shall be allowed;

White or Yellow Pine, Second Quality Deals.—White or yellow pine second quality deals shall be free from rot, rotten knots and splits, with slight exceptions, at the discretion of the culler, and sound knots and hard black knots shall be allowed as follows: If they do not exceed six in number and, upon the average, one inch and a half diameter; if they exceed six and are not more than twelve in number, and do not exceed, upon the average, one inch and a quarter in diameter, —but small knots under half an inch diameter shall not be counted or considered; such proportion of knots shall be allowed for a deal eleven inches in width and twelve feet in length, and deals of greater or less dimensions shall be allowed for in proportion, according to the judgment of the culler; heart shakes and sun cracks not exceeding three-fourths of an inch to one inch in depth shall be allowed, as also worm holes, according to the judgment of the culler; wane of half an inch to one inch shall be allowed according to the quality of the deal in other respects, according to the judgment of the culler; deals rejected as not coming within the standard of merchantable or second quality shall be classed as culls,—except that the culler may, if requested by buyer and seller, select and classify, as third quality, the best of the deals so rejected;

Spruce and Red Pine, Second Quality Deals.—Spruce and red pine second quality deals, shall be deals not coming within the definition of merchantable, and which, in the opinion and judgment of the culler, are not culls, and shall be classed as second quality; and the culler, if required by seller and buyer, may select and classify as third quality the best of the deals unfit to be seconds;

Quebec Standard Hundred of Deals.—The Quebec standard hundred of deals shall be one hundred pieces twelve feet long, eleven inches broad, and two and a half inches thick; and deals of all other dimensions shall be computed according to the said standard; deals of all qualities shall be not less than eight feet long, seven inches broad and two and a half inches thick; deal ends shall be not less than six feet long and shall be computed according to the Quebec standard;

Merchantable Deals.— All merchantable deals shall be well sawn and squared at the end with a saw, and the color alone shall be no objection to their being merchantable ;

To be Stamped.—All deals when culled shall, in all cases, be stamped with the initials of the culler, and the capital letter denoting their quality as such;

Marking of Spruce and Other Deals.—Spruce deals, if not sawn at the ends prior to or at the time of culling, shall be marked with the capital letter, denoting their respective qualities, with red chalk, in large bold letters; and to prevent mistakes in piling, all other deals shall be marked with bold strokes in red chalk as follows:—

Merchantable shall be marked, I;

Second quality shall be marked, II;

Third quality (if made) shall be marked, III;

Rejected or culls shall be marked, X;

STANDARD OR MEASUREMENT STAVES.

Standard or measurement staves shall be of the dimensions set forth in the words and figures following :—

HEAD STAVES.

Head staves, five and a half feet long, and four and a half inches broad, shall be received as if of merchantable dimensions;

STANDARD MILLE.

The standard mille shall be twelve hundred pieces of five and a half feet long, five inches broad, and one and a half inches thick; and standard or measurement staves of other dimensions shall be reduced to the said standard by the tables of calculation now used;

WEST INDIA OR PUNCHEON STAVES.

West India or puncheon staves shall be three and a half feet long, four inches broad, and three-fourths of an inch thick;

QUALITIES REQUISITE IN ALL STAVES.

All staves shall be straight grained timber, properly split, with straight edges, free from the grub or large worm holes, knots, veins, shakes and splinters; and small worm holes which do not exceed three in number, shall be allowed according to the judgment of the culler, provided there are no veins running from or connected therewith, and the culler shall measure the length, breadth and thickness of standard staves at the shortest, narrowest and thinnest parts; and the thickness of West India and barrel staves exceeding the standard breadth shall be measured at such standard breadth, to wit: Four and three and a half inches respectively, provided the thinnest edge is not less than half an inch;

DIMENSIONS OF MERCHANTABLE TIMBER.

The dimensions of merchantable timber shall be as set forth in the following words and figures:—

Oak.—Oak shall be at least twenty feet in length and ten inches square in the middle;

Elm.—Elm shall be at least twenty feet in length and ten inches square in the middle;

White Pine.—White pine shall be at least twenty feet in length and twelve inches square in the middle, and fifteen feet and upwards in length, if it is sixteen inches square and upwards in the middle;

Red Pine.—Red pine shall be at least twenty-five feet in length and ten inches square in the middle, and twenty feet and upwards in length, if it is twelve inches square and upwards in the middle;

Ash, Basswood and Butternut.—Ash, basswood and butternut shall be at least fifteen feet in length and twelve inches square in the middle, and at least twelve feet in length, if it is fifteen inches square and upwards in the middle;

Birch.—Birch shall be at least six feet in length and twelve inches square in the middle;

TAPER OF MERCHANTABLE TIMBER.

Bends or twists not to exceed one in number ;

HOLLOW ALLOWED.

Hollow allowed on merchantable timber: —

Oak, 3 inches for every 20 feet in length, and in proportion for any greater length;

Elm, 3 inches for every 20 feet in length, and in proportion for any greater length;

White pine, 2}£ inches for every 20 feet in length, and in proportion for any greater length ;

Red pine, 3 inches for every 20 feet in length, and in proportion for any greater length;

Ash, basswood and butternut, 2J£ inches for every 20 feet in length, and in proportion for any greater length ;

DIMENSIONS OF MASTS, BOWSPRITS AND RED PINE SPARS.

White pine masts of 23 inches and upwards at the partners, shall be 3 feet in length to an inch in diameter;

22 inches do. 3 feet do. do. and 2 feet extreme length;

21 do. do. 3 feet do. do. and 3 feet do.

20 do. and under 3 feet do. do. and 4 feet do.

Hollow or bend not to exceed six inches for seventy feet, and in proportion for any greater length;

Bowsprits shall be two feet in length for every inch in diameter at the partners, adding two feet for extreme length ;

Red pine spars shall be three feet to the inch in diameter at the partners, and nine feet extreme length; hollow not to exceed seven inches for sixty,feet, and in proportion for any greater length.

REWORKING.

Whenever it appears that timber, masts, spars, boards, planks, deals, staves, oars or any other description of lumber, are not properly hewn, squared, butted or edged, but are merchantable in other respects and sold as such, the supervisor, deputy and culler, respectively, shall order or cause the same to be properly dressed and chopped, at the expense of the seller or the buyer, as the case may be, previously to their being respectively received and certified to be merchantable; and such dressing and chopping shall be done under the direction of the culler in charge of the measuring or culling.

SURVEY IN CASE OF DISPUTE.

If any dispute arises between the first buyer or seller, or the person making the requisition, and the culler employed to cull or measure any article of lumber, with regard to the dimensions or quality thereof, the supervisor or deputy shall, as soon as possible, upon a written complaint thereof being made, demanding a survey, cause a board of survey to be held for examining the quality and dimensions of such lumber; and such board shall take into consideration the position of such lumber when measured or culled, and all other circumstances and considerations connected therewith, in reporting thereon; and such board shall consist of three persons,—one to be appointed by the culler whose decision is disputed, one by the person complaining, and one by the supervisor or deputy,—and their determination shall be final and conclusive; and if the opinion and act of the culler is confirmed, the reasonable costs and charges of re-examination shall be paid by the person complaining, but if otherwise, by the culler:

WHEN SURVEY MUST BE DEMANDED.

Such survey shall be demanded when the culling or measuring is completed, or within two lawful days after the person demanding the survey has been furnished with the specification thereof; and such right of survey shall cease on and after the fifteenth day of November in each year:

APPOINTMENT OF CULLER.

The supervisor or deputy, for the more expeditious settlement of disputes, may, with the consent and at the request of buyer, seller and culler concerned, name one culler to act as surveyor; and if the culler so named is not objected to by any of the persons interested, he shall act in the capacity of a board of survey, and his determination shall be final and conclusive.

COLLECTION OF FEES AND CHARGES.

The fees and charges fixed by the Governor in Council shall be charged and collected by the supervisor and deputy supervisor, as the fees and charges for culling, measuring or counting off each description of lumber, and for making out specifications, and shall include all charges and expenses against such lumber, except in cases where extra labor for canting, dressing, butting, chopping and piling is necessary and required:

BY WHOM AND WHEN PAYABLE.

One-half of such fees and charges shall be paid by the buyer, and the other half by the seller; but the whole of such fees and charges shall, in all cases, be paid to the supervisor or deputy, on the delivery of the specification or on the presentation of an account thereof, by the person, or by the persons jointly or severally, who filed a requisition or order for such measuring, counting or culling, whether such person or persons are buyers, sellers, owners, or possessors of such lumber.

CULLING NOT COMPULSORY IN CERTAIN CASES.

Nothing in this Act shall make it compulsory to have any article of lumber measured, culled or assorted, under this Act, if such lumber is shipped for exportation by sea for account, in good faith, of the actual and bona fide producer or manufacturer thereof; but all other lumber shipped for exportation by sea, shall be either measured, culled or counted, at the option of the persons interested, by a licensed culler, under the control and superintendence of the supervisor or deputy; and the owner or shipper of such lumber, or the proprietor or lessee of the premises from which such lumber is so unlawfully shipped, shall incur a penalty equal to the market value of any article of lumber so unlawfully shipped.


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