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The party of men entered Thunder Bay welcomed by the stink of rotting fish. Along the waterfront piers broken Quebec carts filled a shallow cove while a blanket of frigid air trapped the stench of scales and fish heads two feet off the icy ground – an assault to the men’s noses.

In the town center a rail yard held dozens of flat cars loaded with rough-dressed lumber their size and colors most of the men had never seen. The smell of balsam and pungent spruce seeped from the cuts of the blades. Streets no more than muddy wagon paths were lined with clusters of hitching rails. Boardwalks fronted the buildings with every entrance and doorway filled with bits of bark and broken branches. Curled wood shavings clung to the hems of clothing.

Fine sawdust hugged everyone’s boots while saws growled. Their buzzing teeth rose like cries for mercy. At the north end of town, the first corduroy road in the country lay across the trail toward open forests as the party entered the great Canadian Shield. For over four hundred miles men and horses would be freed from the muddy ruts that turned horses’ hooves and sucked men’s boots at every footfall.

-A scene from the long shot: a french canadian saga – book 1.